Now it’s been a few weeks since this summer’s festival of football ended. At Chicken Swedes we have had a few days of vacation where we had time to visit FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium. Now, however, we are back again with the latest news from the sports and entertainment world. Here is an outline of the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
As the 2014 World Cup was played in football’s homeland Brazil, expectations were high both on the arrangement itself and that the home team would perform well (= win the tournament). Other favorites beforehand were the Argentina with Lionel Messi and Spain who won the last World Cup and the last two European Championships.
In Group A, Brazil got a good start with a 3-1 win against Croatia. They then played a goal-less draw against Mexico and won against Cameroon. The group victory was thus secured. Mexico came second in the group and reached the knockout-stage.
Group B started with an unexpected goal-explosion. Netherlands beat last world cup-winner Spain with 5-1! After another Spanish defeat to Chile (0-2) their dynasty was over.
Holland and Chile went through as Spain got a consolation win against Australia. The Netherlands felt like a gold candidate again this year, they got the silver in the 2010 tournament after a loss against Spain in the final game.
In Group C Colombia did short work of their opponents and won the group with a maximum of 9 points. Greece managed to secure a place in the knockout-round with a late goal against Ivory Coast.
The English team was unfortunately one of the year’s biggest disappointments and ended up last in a tough group where they are drawn against Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica. Costa Rica won unexpected but convincing and went on to the knockout-stage together with Uruguay.
In the deciding match between Uruguay and Italy a notable event took place when Uruguay’s Luis Suarez bit (!) Italy’s defenseman Giorgio Chiellini. This led to Suarez being suspended for the remainder of the tournament. The game got even Italy a player sent off and there were many who questioned the judges afterwards.
In Group E confident France and Switzerland went through in an “easy” group with Honduras and Ecuador. France’s offensive impressed many and revived some memories of their dynasty around the new millennium with victories in both the European and World Championships.
In Group F, expectations were high on Argentina. Opponents were Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria which must be regarded as an easy draw. Indeed Argentina won the group with three straight wins, without convincing, it was three odd goal victories. Positive was that the team’s big star Lionel Messi was behind most of the goals. Nigeria managed to grab the second place in the group and advanced to the knockout-stage.
In Group G, many thought, including us, that it would be about a settlement between Joachim Löw’s German machine and Portugal with its star Christiano Ronaldo.
In the first game of the group Germany showed the world what was to come. After the first half against Portugal they led with 3-0. The end result was written to 4-0 to the Germans. Unlike Sweden in the qualifiers Portugal could not make four straight goals in the second half.
Portugal did not even advance to the playoffs which is considered to be a fiasco. Instead, it was the U.S. that grabbed the second place in the group.
This group may be considered one of those who held the lowest class in the World Championship. Sure, Belgium had a decent team on paper and Russia are usually able to show some quality but overall there are many good teams, mostly European who had been able to move on from this group, any day. We refer in particular to Sweden, Denmark, but also Turkey.
Belgium finished first in the group and went through together with Algeria.
It was time for the playoffs. 32 teams had become 16.
Round of 16
Brazil v Chile: The home nation were drawn against Chile who had impressed the world in the group stage but have had a dismal playoff-record against Brazil. The game went to penalties and Brazil barely made it to the quarter finals.
Colombia v Uruguay: Colombia was a clear favorite against a disputed Uruguay without suspended striker Suarez. Indeed Colombia won 2-0 and went on to the quarterfinals.
France v Nigeria: The French made short work of Nigeria and could relatively easily get to the quarterfinals.
Germany v Algeria: Here the Germans were soaring favorites but Algeria resisted firmly. The game went into overtime after a goal-less 90 minutes and Germany could eventually win with 2-1. Algeria was the last african team to leave the tournament.
Netherlands v Mexico: Two teams that had played convincingly the group stage would now battle for a place in the quarter finals. Both teams played well but the game was decided when the Netherlands got a disputed penalty after Arjen Robben had thrown himself in the penalty area.
Costa Rica v Greece: Costa Rica was a positive surprise in the group stage and had won the hearts of many. In this game against Greece the shootout took them through to the quarter-finals.
Argentina v Switzerland: Switzerland was a hard nut to crack for Argentina. Their defensive play was intact and impenetrable. In the end it felt fair though that Argentina’s Di Maria could make the game-winning-goal in overtime.
Belgium v USA: After a goalless draw at full-time, the match went into overtime where all three goals were scored, just as the game between Germany and Algeria. Belgium went ahead and the end result was written to 2-1
Brazil v Colombia: Once again Brazil managed to get a narrow win (2-1) against south american opposition. However, it was a costly victory when the superstar Neymar was injured at the end of the game. He could not play any more in the tournament. Additionally Silva became suspended in the semifinal.
France v Germany: In the last game, Germany had knocked out France’s former colony Algeria with the odd goal. In the quarterfinals they got another odd goal victory (1-0) in a slow and uneventful game. Were the Europeans affected by the south american climate? In the semifinal the host nation Brazil waited..
Netherlands v Costa Rica: Another quarterfinal meeting between Europe and South America. It required a shootout to secure a Dutch semi-final place. Costa Rica who had impressed the world with the group win was now out of the tournament.
Argentina v Belgium: Argentina scored 1-0 already in the eighth minute, and that was the result after 90 minutes of game time.
In the semifinals we had two European and two South American teams, including the host nation Brazil. Good for the tournament!
Brazil v. Germany: In one of football history’s worst over runs ever the German machine crushed a confused Brazil. After the first half it was already 5-0 to the germans and the end result had probably been two digits if they didn’t slow down the pace in the second half, where “only” scored two goals and Brazil had to do a consolation goal in the final minute.
The Brazilian fiasco was a fact. They had lost in a humiliating way in a game where virtually nothing worked for them. In addition, they had disgraced himself at home. This is a wound in the Brazilian soccer spirit that will take a long time to heal.
Netherlands v Argentina: Unlike the first semifinal became a tight game that required a penalty shoot-out to be decided. Both teams played good defense and did what they could to try to get to anything done offensively. Closest was Netherland’s Robben who was close to score at the end of the game.
Argentina won the game on penalties after razor-sharp and determined penalty kicks. In the final game Germany waited for them.
Third place game
Brazil v Netherlands: In the bronze game Brazil played to restore some of the glory that is lost in the semifinal. However, Netherlands could take the lead after only three minutes. The end result was written to 3-0 to the Dutch who were able to secure the bronze.
Germany v Argentina: Before the finale there was much talk about Germany’s crushing of Brazil. How would Argentina stand up against the German machine? While Argentina had shown up a nice defensive play in the semi-final against Netherlands but what about their attacking game? It was now up to superstar Lionel Messi and his friends to show themselves from their best side.
In the final game Germany got possession but didn’t manage to break through Argentina’s defenses. Argentina got some good opportunities every now and then but didn’t manage to score. The first half was goalless.
In the second half the game continued in much the same stance. Germany took over more of the possession but failed to create some really sharp chances. Argentina defended well and created the odd chance every now and then. It felt like both teams followed their game-plan. Although they failed to score any goals both teams kept to their basics and played “their” games out there.
The match went into extra time. In the 88 minute german coach Joachim Löw had substituted the legendary Miroslav Klose for striker Mario Götze. It would prove to be a wise choice. In the second extra time half Götze got the ball in a good position. In an elegant way, he took it down, turned around and put it into the net. 1-0 to Germany with seven minutes left to play!
The Germans held out and won the long-awaited world championship gold. The last time they won the gold was in Italy 1990.
A Final Analysis
The 2014 World Championship in Brazil gave us many good matches. The tournament kept overall good class where even some of the teams that were considered “inferior” could threaten the giants of football. Meanwhile many favorites fell already in the group stage. We expected that teams like Portugal, England, Spain and Italy would go much further. Now, these teams have to go home and take some time to think about how to innovate in a changing football world: How do you keep up with the new kind of quick football that is based on speed and action, how do you score on tight defenses and how do you stop tireless team-machines like Germany anno 2014?
The arrangement surrounding the World Cup was beautifully and professional. Judges efforts have been decent with a few exceptions.
Regarding Brazil’s departure in the semi-finals: there is not much else to say than that they simply wasn’t better than the 4th team overall this year. Germany and Argentina were worthy final teams and Holland deserved the bronze medal.
Now we look forward to the 2016 European Championships!