The group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil could not have been any more exciting. We saw four teams that were favorites to win the tournament eliminated early, a scrappy U.S. team advance from the group of death, and even a player resort to biting other players to get ahead.
What’s happened so far…
Italy, Spain, Portugal, and England all failed to advance out of the group stage. The defending champions Spain were favored to win the entire World Cup, while the other three teams all sport international superstars and a history of winning.
Costa Rica shocked the soccer world by claiming the top spot in a group that featured three former World Cup champions (Italy, England and Uruguay). They were undefeated in the group, with two wins and a meaningless tie against England.
The U.S. surprised many by advancing out of arguably the second toughest group, named the “group of death.” With one of the best teams on the planet: Germany, a Portugal team with the best player in the world and our greatest soccer rivals in Ghana, things were not looking good. But with one stunning win, a depressing tie, and a celebrated loss, the United States is moving on.
Despite missing several large players, the knockout stage is set to be just as exciting.
What to expect…
Nearly every game in the next stage should prove to be a good match, but several have a little more intrigue.
The Big Guns
Brazil, Germany, Argentina, and the Netherlands remain the favorites to win the tournament. Favorites haven’t fared well so far in 2014, so they will have to remain on top of their game if they want to live up to expectations.
Costa Rica vs Greece (6/29, 4:00 PM ET)
Both teams have already made it much further than predicted, but don’t expect them to be complacent. Both teams will likely be hoping to make a Cinderella run to the championship.
United States vs Belgium (7/1, 4:00 PM ET)
The Americans have a long road ahead of them if they want to move on any further despite the huge achievement of moving onto the knockout stage. They are going to face a talented Belgium squad that swept their group and entered the tournament as a dark horse to win it all. Even if star Jozy Altidore is able to return, the US will have its hands full trying to contain Eden Hazard, who is just as good as his name suggests.
Colombia vs Uruguay (6/28, 4:00 PM ET)
Uruguay forward Luis Suarez received a 9-game suspension for his bite against Italy, effectively banning him from the rest of this World Cup no matter how far Uruguay advances. Although without him, it might not be very far. Colombia is entering the next round after sweeping their group leaving Uruguay with an uphill battle.
Whoever you’re rooting for, you can find all the upcoming matches on allcal’s World Cup 2014 Public Calendar. Download the app now to share the game with friends, or create your own soccer-watching event!