Another chaotic day of FIFA World Cup action has been and gone with a parade of nations having varying fortunes. Half of the teams involved packed their bags and went home, whereas the other half booked their place in the last 16.
We all learn something new from every game that comes and goes and on Thursday, the biggest lesson of all was this: we need upsets in this tournament.
We’re starting to believe that it helps keep the beating heart of the World Cup going, if only because it’s often so unpredictable. Nobody knows what’s coming around the next corner and in Group E and Group F, that was particularly true.
At one point last night, Japan and Costa Rica were both making their way through to the knockout stages with Spain and Germany going out. That, in itself, is absolutely insane and speaks volumes to just how competitive this entire group turned out to be.
Japan beat Germany and Spain to top the group with the Germans dropping out, despite picking up four points against the Spanish and Costa Rica. It’s one of those groups that shouldn’t make any sense whatsoever but it did, and that’s precisely why we loved it.
It seemed as if things weren’t going to be cut and dry from before the tournament even kicked off and, unsurprisingly, that came to fruition. Croatia and Belgium, despite being the favourites, were both left fighting for their respective lives yesterday.
Croatia went through thanks to their 0-0 draw but as a result of Morocco’s big win and consistent form, the Red Devils were knocked out. Also, while it may sound harsh, they definitely deserved it, especially with Canada putting in a great shift too.
The next step
There’s a whole lot more chaos that could potentially unfold in the weeks that lie ahead and that is absolutely fascinating to us. Today, Cameroon, Switzerland and Serbia will battle it out to qualify with Brazil, with the Brazilians knowing they’re pretty comfortable in their group.
On the flip side, Portugal are also in a great position but Uruguay are in serious trouble with Ghana and South Korea fighting every step of the way to remain in the World Cup.
The knockouts are already shaping up to be full of entertainment, too, and that starts with tomorrow’s knockout games.
Netherlands vs USA has the potential to make some massive waves with the Dutch knowing they have to fend off an American side that has nothing left to lose after qualifying from their group.
Argentina, who are once again one of the favourites to win the whole thing after slipping up against Saudi Arabia, take on an Australia squad that is riding one of their highest waves in years.
From there you’ve got France vs Poland and England vs Senegal, and even though it’s unlikely, Poland and Senegal will just be happy to have reached the knockouts – so we can only imagine how much freedom they’re going to be playing with here.