Whether it was the beginning of the match or the end, it was all about Keylor Navas.
The 27-year-old keeper added to his amazing year by coming up with the denial of Theofanis Gekas free kick to allow Michale Umaña to hit the winning penalty, sending Costa Rica through to their first World Cup quarterfinal.
Going into the 2014 World Cup, most analysts, pundits and fans alike picked Portugal as a one-man team— a squad dependent on one player, Ronaldo, to carry them. All this was said despite the fact that they have other quality players. Two of their defenders, Pepe and Fabio Coentrao, play for Champions League winners Real Madrid.
Mexico was two minutes away from advancing to the quarter-finals for the first time since 1986 but the final five minutes saw a thunderbolt from Wesley Sneijder and a controversial penalty from Klaas Jan Hunterlaar that were enough to see Holland into the quarter-final instead. The Dutch will take on the winner of Costa Rica vs.
Nigeria and Argentina have storied history at all levels of international football. They met at the 2005 U20 world cup finals with a Lionel Messi-led Argentina triumphant over the Nigerians. That game was sandwiched in between two Olympic Gold medal games, with Nigeria 2-1 winners in 1996 and Argentina 1-0 winners in 2008.
It has happened to many great Empires, once mighty, all conquering, feared by all — and reduced to a mere shadow of itself, like an old, once magnificent building now crumbling and tired, you cannot imagine how it was ever beautiful.
Maybe a bit of an exaggeration but this is how it felt watching Spain's 2-1 defeat to Chile.
Jorge Sampaoli's men were not in a place 15 months ago to be the team that ended Spain's six year dynasty Wednesday. Fresh off their fourth straight loss in CONMEBOL's difficult qualifying campaign to Peru, questions centered throughout Santiago and the rest of the nation if Sampaoli was feeling the pressure in replacing his mentor Marcelo Bielsa.
Spain's six-year domination of world soccer came to an ignominious end in Rio tonight when they were unceremoniouslydumpedout of the World Cup by Chile.
First-half goals from Eduardo Vargas and Charles Aranguiz sealed a 2-0 victory for Chile in the cauldron of the Maracana and, with Spain having already been humbled 5-1 by the Netherlands in Salvador last Friday, tonight's result means that Vicente Del Bosque's men cannot progress to the competition's knockout stage.
Wednesday 18th June 2014 Maracana Stadium, Rio De Janeiro
Reigning World Champions Spain must look to recover from their incomprehensible 5-1 defeat to the Netherlands in their opening game against the formidable opponents of Chile if they are to progress from Group B.
Spain lost their opening game of the previous World Cup against Switzerland, and still recovered sufficiently to capture their first Jules Rimet trophy.
Mexico's striker, Javier Hernandez, has had a very difficult season with both his national team and with his club Manchester United. The 26-year-old has not started a game this season, and was he again on the bench when Mexico drew 0-0 against World Cup hosts Brazil last night. So what will happen to the little pea, can he still have an influence for Mexico's success in the World Cup?
Portugal ensured in Salvador on Monday afternoon that their Iberian neighbors were not the only team thrashed in their World Cup opener. The ninety minutes could not end sooner for Ronaldo and company. Mats Hummels' injury was the only drawback on what was otherwise a perfect day out for the Germans.
In the end, it was a case of what should have been.
In some ways, Brazil's 3-1 win over Croatia in the opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup was wildly entertaining and exhilarating. But the final score-line left too much flattery and deception fluttering around the air in Sao Paulo. It was hard to swallow.
Forget Neymar's wizardry. Forget Oscar's deft passing. Forget Hulk's cannon of a shot from distance. Forget Bernard's electrifying speed. Forget Thiago Silva's world-class defending. Forget all of that, because none of the things I just listed are Brazil's "X-factor."
The country of Brazil is, in fact, the football team's "X-factor.
The summer of 1966. Soccer-mania gripped the world as it usually does for the World Cup. The difference that year was that the beautiful game had returned "home," to England. The host nation, enjoying their best cup run in the tournament's history, made it to the final at Wembley. The opposition, West Germany, had convincingly dispatched Switzerland, Spain, Uruguay and the then Soviet Union on their way to the final.
A nation collectively held its breath when veteran defender Josip imunić was handed a ten-game ban by FIFA in December that effectively ended his international career, following his use of a neo-fascist salute after November's qualifier against Iceland.
In the blistering heat and humidity in the Amazonian city of Manaus, Italy will take on England to open up their 2014 World Cup campaign.
The Italians will be looking to rebound after a disappointing performance in the 2010 World Cup where they earned only two points against a weak group, consisting of Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand, and failed to advance past the group stage for the first time since 1974.
La Roja v The Socceroos! This is an interesting match up because Australia come into this group as major underdogs while Chile's hopes are higher than they have ever been yet 2010 finalists Spain and Holland will be expected to advance. I reckon Australia are a little underrated and in a couple moments we will look at the key battles in this match which will most likely be the difference maker.
The score reflects a victory for Brazil but Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will not be fooled by the result. Brazil was nowhere near their best, their attack didn't quite click and there were worrying signs that the backline could be got at.
Whilst Scolari won't admit it he would have recognized that Brazil benefited from some questionable decisions by the Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura.
While a lot is being said about England's ‘group of death', as the 3 Lions prepare to face off against 2010 semi-finalists Uruguay and 2012 Euro Finalists Italy. The toughest set of matches arguably lies in Group B. This kicks off very soon with Spain vs the Netherlands followed by Chile vs Australia.
Four years on from one of the feistiest World Cup Finals to date, much has changed for both Spain and the Netherlands as they reunite in Salvador for the Group B opener. The World Champions begin the tournament behind Brazil and Argentina as favorites, despite having a near identical squad to 2010, many believe their intricate tika-taka style has been found out.
Brazil 2014 is finally getting started and tonight's opening game of the World Cup between Brazil and Croatia will surely be an entertaining one. While many people favor Brazil as the favourites to go through, I can see Mexico finishing second in the group. I know, you might be shaking your head right now and wondering why I'm not choosing Croatia.
Four years ago before the world turned its attention to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup, Manchester United announced the purchase of a player from Chivas de Guadalajara named Javier Hernandez for the meager transfer fee believed to be around $8m. While many who monitored only Europe's elite leagues had heard little of the Mexican forward, his performance at the World Cup helped amplify his announcement on the global stage.
It's finally here. In less than 24 hours, the 2014 FIFA World Cup will kick off with a match between Brazil and Croatia in São Paulo, Brazil. By now, we've read most of the previews, filled out our brackets and are preparing to look over our shoulder at work, hoping our bosses don't ask "What are you doing?