6/10 First Stage Predictions
A: 1. Brazil, Cameroon, Croatia, 2. Mexico
B: Australia, 2. Chile, Netherlands, 1. Spain
C: 1. Colombia, 2. Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
D: Costa Rica, 2. England, Italy, 1. Uruguay
E: 2. Ecuador, 1. France, Honduras, Switzerland
F: 1. Argentina, 2. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria
G: 1. Germany, Ghana, Portugal, 2. United States
H: Algeria, 1. Belgium, 2. Russia, South Korea
— Tue Jun 10 21:43:17 UTC 2014
Note: the rankings in the range 1-32 after the team names are derived from the SPI rankings published by ESPN/Nate Silver. I'm curious to see how accurate they are, i.e. to see how many times the favored teams lose.
6/12 Brazil(1) 3 - 1 Croatia(23) (Group A)
After four years of waiting it's the World Cup, at last!
The opening ceremony was fine, but a little underwhelming. Although the gigantic, ever-changing ball was fun, basically just having dancers seemed pretty low budget. Then the ball disgorged Jennifer Lopez and two other singers, who all lip-synced quite badly. The Sochi Olympics ceremonies are too fresh in the memory, these disappoint in comparison. Well, at least Spanish television shows them; not so for ESPN. But it matters not; on to the game.
But first the national anthems. During the Brazilian anthem the music stopped, but everyone just kept singing anyway, just as if nothing had happened. Apparently this has happened before so it isn't the miraculous event it might seem. It might even be turning into a tradition. Then three doves are released as the players show their anxiety to start.
Interestingly the announcers are English and Irish. At first, I was puzzled. Why not Americans? As the game progresses I realize: they are so knowledgable about those who play in Europe, which even includes all of Brazil's players save Fred. Which teams they play for, when they transferred, what they've done in the past, etc. American announcers who mostly cover the MLS wouldn't know all this off the tops of their heads, no matter how good their research. This also dramatically reveals how out of the swirl of world soccer we are in America.
These announcers also feature some fun terminology, e.g.
As play continued Brazil's players start to look frustrated. They argue with one another. Their star forward wearing number 10, Neymar, gets a yellow card for applying his forearm to a neck. What is going on here? Is it the curse of being the host? The pressure? Finally, though, Neymar scores! Perhaps the yellow card woke him up. After an impressive run he kicks a rather soft one from quite far out. Despite it's softness, it strikes the right side post and bounces in, beyond the diving keeper. The score is even as they go in for the half.
Play in the second half is uninspiring and ragged. Apparently neither coach gave a sufficiently good pep talk. It's okay for Croatia for a tie would be better than expected for them. But what has happened to Brazil? Which player will solve this riddle? Sadly, the answer is Yuichi Nishimura, the referee. Standing backwards in front of the goal, when Fred is held slightly (by Lovren), he throws himself to the ground. Nishimura sees this and awards a penalty. Neymar takes it, trickily stutter stepping before kicking it low in the right corner. The keeper gets both hands on it, but it bounces wide and stays in.
Now Brazil gets their revenge, being the ones slowing down the game while the Croats become more anxious. The Croats seem to get a goal, but again the referee goes against them, claiming they roughed up the Julius Caesar (i.e. Julio Cesar, the Brazilian keeper), another dubious call. Finally Croatia throw all ten field players forward. When it doesn't work, Oscar scores easily for Brazil on a breakaway.
So at least everyone in turbulent Brazil can drive home safely, but is it just? Or is it just another blown game, a victim of FIFA's refusal to add referees and video review.
6/13 Mexico(21) 1 - 0 Cameroon(28) (Group A)
It is raining for this game. Not a little rain either, but pouring. Still it's a fast and fluid game. Nobody ever holds the ball; instead they pass as soon as they receive it. Mexico has most of the ability in this one, but Cameroon has a good keeper. Plus there is the referee who rather inexplicably calls back three goals, two for Mexico, one for Cameroon, all ostensibly offside. How is Mexico to get the win? Finally they kick one hard enough that the keeper ends up on the ground and then another player picks up the rebound and puts it away. The result is rather misleading; it should have been 3-0. Cameroon's glory days with Roger Milla are gone; they need to find a way to put goals together; probably won't happen in this tournament.
6/13 Spain(3) 1 - 5 Netherlands(10) (Group B)
During the first half Spain gets a penalty kick that was only barely deserved. It looks pretty clear that the defender had no intention of taking out the player in the box, but he did come in quickly and just hooked his foot, knocking him down. Spain capitalizes, Xabi Alonso making the kick. Then there is no more scoring for a long time. Is that it? But then, just before the interval, the Netherland's Van Persie gets an excellent long pass and puts in a diving header. The second half is much the same as the Netherlands with great energy pounce on every loose ball and opportunity and with the same energy that Robben and Bayern Munich used to beat the Spanish club teams last year put in goal after goal. Spain looks less than sharp in their passing and lackluster in their energy. Toward the end even the keeper is making big mistakes, giving up a goal by mishandling a ball with his feet. Even the Dutch foul rate – rather high in the first half – goes down. I'm not sure what's wrong with Spain; they have a lot to think about. Netherlands have their revenge for the 2010 final and have given everyone a lot to think about.
6/13 Chile(5) 3 - 1 Australia (31) (Group B)
This last game of the first full day is probably going to be little watched. Australia is one of the lowest-ranked teams in the tourney and no one expects Chile to have much of a challenge. The game is both desultory and surprising. In the first fifteen minutes Chile scores not one, but two goals. Wow, are we going to see a major shelling? Much like the earleer Dutch game? Turns out not. After that, no doubt the Aussies make some defensive adjustments, but for some the Chileans change their behavior. Having achieved so much so soon they seem to take it for granted and are now aiming not just for goals, but for perfect ones, taking extra care, extra touches, etc. Consequence: the come away with nothing. Meanwhile the proud Aussies have not given up. They dig into their English heritage to pull out the old crossing header and manage to find the Chilean weakness: they are not tall. After scoring their first goal this way they try again whenever they manage to get the ball that far down field, but cannot repeat the trick. In the final injury time Chile finally gets one more. They're loaded with talent, but their commitment has to be questioned a little. Even with a South American crowd behind them, they failed to roll up the score to the extent they should have if they hope to escape this group.
6/14 Colombia(7) 3 - 0 Greece(22) (Group C)
The word of the day should be "focus" because it applies not just to this game, but also to that of Japan and the Ivory Coast. Because of lack of focus Greece failed to mark a critical man and let in a goal via corner kick. But this was not just a one-off. The same thing has happened in set piece place in Greece's last four games. After that goal the Greeks were anxious and behind the 8 ball, which led to losing two more goals. It appears my hopes for the Greeks will not be fulfilled. But make no mistake: Colombia is a team of very talented individuals. But it's a young, raw talent. This game saw immediate passing and constant running, from both sides. For the Greeks that was okay, but for Colombia, once they went ahead they did go into a 5-4-1 formation, but should have had the ability to play some possession football. But it never happened; they continued to run, pass and turn over the ball. Without sufficient maturity, despite all their talent they probably won't go far past this group.
6/14 Uruguay(8) 1 - 3 Costa Rica(25) (Group D)
The alternate word of the day is "upset", this being the first of two. Nobody figured lowly Costa Rica could win this one, but they did and in style. Uruguay is a cinderella team from the last cup, and the cup winners the last time it was in Brazil (1950), so it was sad to see this, but they are looking a bit old, and hurt (when it comes to their star, Luis Suarez). Meanwhile the Costa Rica players are athletic and energetic and in the form of their forward, Joel Campbell (who plays at Arsenal), have the makings of a real star. Either team could still escape the group, but with England and Italy aboard, it will be a tough road.
6/14 England(9) 1 - 2 Italy(15) (Group D)
The second upset of the day should not have happened. I saw more skill from England, overall, than I did from Italy, the brilliance of Pirlo and Balotelli notwithstanding. England's younger players dribbled right around the Italian defense with ease and on a regular basis. But there are problems and ultimately the must all stem from their rather stodgy and conservative coach. On the Italian right front they were regularly double-teaming the defense, which is what permitted a cross to Balotelli which once it reached him could not be stopped. Why was that permitted to continue for the entire match. Moving another player there should have been a simple matter. England were lucky that Italy didn't pull the same trick several more times. Then also, why was Pirlo permitted to stand in the midfield and direct the ball without even being challenged? Finally, does Rooney really belong in the lineup for the entire match? True, he made a great pass that led to a goal in the first half, but for the second half he was selfish, erratic and probably tired. Platoon him and your team probably gets better immediately. If England's coaching is up to it they can still do well in this tournament, but who can awaken them from their slumber?
6/14 Ivory Coast(17) 2 - 1 Japan(26) (Group C)
For a while this looked like a major upset. In the first fifteen minutes, Japan turned a run-of-the-mill throw-in into an impressive goal. Why? Because the Ivory Coast players had a major loss of focus. Instead of marking the man who would likely receive the throw-in, no fewer than three of them absent-mindedly stood around between the thrower and the goal, not marking anyone. A simple mistake, but a costly one. Then for the next half game, they could not achieve the equalizer. Instead they dribbled down to the opposing side, fell down with the ball and raised their hand begging for a penalty call that did not come, and rightly so. Eventually they must have figured out it wasn't going to work and they'd have to earn their goals honestly. So instead they started crossing balls in the air (despite the constant rain) where, being taller than most of the Japanese defenders, of course they can dominate. They scored both of their goals that way and probably could have done more. I think now this team will probably go through, but past that their defensive lapses and lack of tactical imagination will probably end their journey early. As for Japan, they work very hard, but are not quite there in terms of the ability, both on offense and defense.
6/15 Switzerland(18) 2 - 1 Ecuador(12) (Group E) UPSET!
An interesting competition between teams from two mountainous countries – Ecuador even has one on its flag and has benefited (some say cheated) by having their home qualification games at high altitude in Quito where they invariably win, and then losing the away game. Perhaps they should try a friendly with the Swiss there some time.
Ecuador score first on a free kick header, mostly due to bad marking by the Swiss. The Swiss score right after the half, also on a corner. Later they have a goal called back by a wrong offside call and then have a 3-on-1 situation and miss. Once Ecuador have an open goal, but still could not finish. Amazingly the Swiss finally score in final twenty seconds, one player traversing most of the field, even falling down midway, but getting right back up to continue.
The match was announced by Adrian Healey and Alejandra Moreno who have a nice chemistry and are very informative – hope they get more games.
6/15 France(6) 3 - 0 Honduras(30) (Group E)
Strangely there were no anthems played; did someone forget their CD? The French team is practically unrecognizable from the disastrous one of four years ago. The star, Ribery, is out. His compatriot, Benzema is still present, however. The French dominate play, but there is fighting early. A Honduras player receives a second yellow card for a body block in front of the Honduras goal so for the second half Honduras play with ten. The second French shot hits the post, bounces to the keeper, rolls mostly across the line and is counted as an own goal, the first successful use of the new goal-line technology that electronically determines whether the ball is really over the line or not. Or maybe later FIFA will award the goal to Benzema who will thus have scored a hattrick.
6/15 Argentina(2) 2 - 1 Bosnia-Herzegovina(13), (Group F)
Very early the nervous Bosnians put one into their own goal on a set-piece. Argentina commit a surprisingly large number of fouls, charging from the back. Even Messi succumbs. Mysterious. Even more mysteriously: the Bosnians stupidly reply in kind. This is a very loud game full of Argentine fans. Both teams try to cheat all the time, moving up the free kick balls, walking halfway down the line before throw-ins, etc. To the surprise of some BIH almost score in the 13th minute; only the brave Argentine goalkeeper leaping out to take away the ball on an excellent forward pass saves them. But there are Bosnian defensive lapses, e.g. clearing right to Messi. Except for those, BIH actually dominate the first half, but finally Messi breaks away, very much in the Maradona style, and from the top of the box curves one in to the left post and it bounces in. Surprisingly undaunted, BIH put one in the 84th minute, through the keeper's legs! I now expect both of these teams to go through, unless they fail due to too many fouls.
6/16 Germany(4) 4 - 0 Portugal(14) (Group G)
Portugal's Ronaldo may be one of the 2-3 top players in the world, but the rest of the players on his team are not in the top 100. So there are limits to what he can do, especially if he cannot get the ball, or if he is double-teamed when he does. Even the extra bones in his ankles won't help there.
The Germans came out strong as usual. Their usual midfield stalwart, Bastian Schweinsteiger, did not play, but no matter; Khedira was more than up to the task. The Germans did a good job getting the ball to Müller who was impressive four years ago, but quiet in the European championships two years ago. Today he left with a hattrick, one from a penalty. They also benefited from the send off of the Portuguese player Pepe not long after the second goal, Reduced to ten players, not much attack was in evidence from the Portuguese side. Portugal resorted to a large number of unnecessary fouls even before that, however.
6/16 Iran(29) 0 - 0 Nigeria(24) (Group F)
An interesting match in the sense that it's the rare contest between Africa and Asia (thought Japan-Ivory Coast was an earlier one) and one of the few matches in which some Muslims play Muslims. It was a rather friendly match at that.
Low-ranked Iran are content to mostly defend and then go for the quick counterattack when possible. They seem mostly just happy to be here. Nigeria are much better at putting together pass combinations, but have problems getting close enough to the goal so that they can score. Only in the final injury time did they start getting close via aerial crosses and corner kicks. As a consequence together they created the tournament's first scoreless match.
Surveys indicate that a lot of people, no doubt influenced by the geopolitical situation, hope Iran does poorly at this tournament. But I think this is a wrong approach and unfair to the players, who are most likely apolitical people who just love soccer. The team are actually having trouble with their own government in terms of getting funds and support and there is sentiment now in the Islamic world that sport is a distracting waste of time. Actually, the better a country like Iran can do in sport, the more they are drawn into the Western world and the greater the chance that both sides can identify and bond.
6/16 United States(19) 2 - 1 Ghana(20), (Group G)
A thrilling and important victory for the US team, but possibly a pyrrhic one as Jozy Altidore, their main striker, is probably out for more than a week with a hamstring strain, Dempsey, the next striker, probably has a broken nose that affects his breathing, and defenders Besler and Bedoya also appear to have hamstring problems.
Unfortunately there is also little new in the US game. They won this one not in the new, promised way, but in the old: via tricks and set-piece plays. Only when the US team can create scoring opportunities from scratch instead of grabbing at the occasional opponent mistake can they compete at the highest level. Actually, Ghana, which except for their mistakes should have won this game, did create such chances, but only managed to capitalize once, mostly because US keeper Tim Howard is so good (ranked in the top five worldwide).
With this win and Portugal's devastation by Germany, a road out of this group is looking more likely for the US now, but it will still be a difficult one, especially as coach Klinsmann's contingency plan only included four forwards on his 23-man roster and he already knew that Altidore was susceptible to hamstring problems.
6/17 Belgium(11) 2 - 1 Algeria(32) (Group H)
With Algeria doing all the scoring in the first half, for a while this looked scary for the favorites. Algeria scored when one of their players was pulled down in the box during a great crossing opportunity. The Algerian star did not miss the penalty. In the second half Belgium made two substitutions and the game completely changed. Finally they were able to penetrate into the box rather than simply taking long distance blasts that did not work. The second Belgian goal was on a fast breaking counterattack, much in the style the Dutch used on Brazil. Both teams are good; Algeria are far from the worst team in this tournament.
6/17 Brazil(1) 0 - 0 Mexico(21) (Group A) UPSET!
Historically one would have expected practically any other result, a 3-2 maybe, but these two teams kept making mistakes. As an example, near the end of the first half Brazil had a free kick. Mexico decided to try the offside trap, only screwed it up because one player didn't get the memo and failed to move forward. Result: three Brazilians moved forward, stayed on-side and were not covered. Normally a disaster, Brazil's turn to screw up ensued as even given this gift they failed to score. This game wasn't even mostly a siege of the Mexican keeper, though he did make six pretty impressive stops, even if they were mostly right at him. In both halves Mexico had extended attacking periods. Since Brazil's ranking is more than five higher than Mexico's, this one counts as an upset. Note that Brazil's Hulk did not play, which may have been a factor.
6/17 Russia(16) 1 - 1 South Korea(27) (Group H) UPSET!
In the first half neither side is managing to get very close to the goal. South Korea had more shots, though mostly from far outside. It's unusual that the Russian team is drawn exclusively from Russian teams, many from the same Moscow team, quite a contrast from Algeria, all of whose players are on different teams. In an amusing game incident, the ball flew into a group of Korean fans. Of course they all have smartphones so they all had to take selfies with the ball. Finally one of the outside Korean strikes is too hot for the indifferent keeper to handle and it goes in. Russia responds by bringing in Kerzhakov, Russia's Landon Donavon. He was born in the same year and also played in Japan/Korea 2002, Russias only remaining player who did so. Moments later he scores, making coach Fabio Capello look very smart and that is not all. Russia breaks out wave after wave of attacks. Where was this team earlier? Klinsmann may yet regret not bringing along the US Kerzhakov. But the Russians just cannot repeat and so must settle for the tie.
6/18 Australia(31) 2 - 3 The Netherlands(10) (Group B)
After the Netherlands whipped Spain, I was looking for more of the same in this one, but at the half it was 1-1. Robben struck first and then was immediately answered by Tim Cahill, hitting one of the most amazing goals thus far. Running toward the goal, he took a long pass on the fly and nevertheless kicked it to an impossibly difficult location, the bottom of the crossbar where it bounced nearly straight down, but into the goal. A few minutes after, however, Cahill unwisely charged a Dutch player and got his second yellow card in two games, meaning that this is probably the 34-year old's last World Cup match ever. Since the Dutch play the counterattack style, Australia has had the ball much more often and been able to attack much more than in their previous match. In fact they slightly dominated the first half. In the second half the Netherlands rally back and for three glorious minutes actually led the Dutch. But the dreams of the Socceroos were not to be as they scored two more in this exciting match, the best of the tournament so far.
6/18 Spain(3) 0 - 2 Chile(5) (Group B) UPSET!
Long live Spain! With two losses, the era of the team that won Euro 2008, the World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 has finally come to an end. It's difficult to say why their play has been so listless, their passing so poor, their energy so apparently low, but there has been almost none of the magic that graced their previous performances. This didn't start in just this tournament because never in all of 2013-4 did they really beat any top quality team, only tying lesser ones and having had a very easy qualifying road to this tournament. After so many championships have they lost the hunger? or the confidence? Is there some internal dissension? Impossible to be sure, but surely something is wrong. In this match they didn't even play Xavi. At around the ten minute mark for a brief series of passes they demonstrated their famous tiki taka fast passing technique, but then just as quickly it ended, barely resuming in a minor way here and there during the second half. Instead they often resorted to long kicks from the keeper that just ended in Chilean hands. Chile is not the greatest team in the world, but they can certainly score, and did, on a Spanish keeper who also looked apathetic. Thus the holders are the first team eliminated. Unprecedented.
6/18 Cameroon(28) 0 - 4 Croatia(23) (Group A)
This was a pathetic game on the Cameroon side. Just before the half, Song performed a vertical elbow on a Croatian back and was red-carded out. It was truly stupid and unnecessary, especially as until then they were very much in the game, in fact regularly beating the Croatian defense on the right side. After that Cameroon hardly seemed to care. They tended not to cover the attackers and even started fighting between themselves. They should have gotten another red card for that. Croatia could have easily earned one or two more goals. The Croat to watch for the future is Perisic who got the assist on the first goal and scored the second.
6/19 Colombia(7) 2 - 1 Ivory Coast(17) (Group C)
Neither team could score in the the first half, though both had opportunities. These two teams appear closely matched and are even playing in the same fast counterattacking way with little desire to pack the defense. At about the 65th Colombia began a sustained siege, continually crossing and gaining corners. It seemed a score would be inevitable and sure enough it came with a header from the corner. Responding to this, Ivory Coast sent all their players forward. When they failed to score Colombia came back on a fast break and scored again. At this point, Colombia should have tried to slow down and maintain their lead, but as in their last match no such thing happened. Instead, they permitted an undaunted Ivory Coast to score. Maybe it could have repeated as well, but time ran out. Again, Colombia performed their dancing ritual after each goal. Watch for their emerging star, James (pronounced "hamez") Rodriguez, in future matches.
6/19 Uruguay(8) 2 - 1 England(9) (Group D)
Number 8 vs. number 9 may be the best closest pairing yet. (USA v. Ghana was 19 v. 20.) In the first half England made sustained attacks, but just could not get the ball in. It starts to seem like Rooney is cursed at the World Cup. On the other side, a defensive lapse allowed Cavani to loft a little ball to a pudgy-looking Suárez just off surgery who expertly headed it in. There has been some bad officiating in this one as Godin, the Uruguayan captain, brought down Sterling and for it probably deserved his second yellow card of the match and thus a sendoff. In the 79th minute finally Rooney got his first World Cup goal, just a little tap after a nice cross from young Sturridge. Unfortunately for England, Suárez was left uncovered and on a long pass that bounced off Gerrard's head, put in a second goal.
6/19 Japan(26) 0 - 0 Greece(22) (Group C)
When the Greeks are back, Japan are unable to get past the midfield. They seem ignorant of the idea of finding the open space. The Greeks are back most of the time, and often playing dirty as well. In the 37th minute the Greek captain's dangerous play got him thrown out (second yellow). Maybe the referee had been watching the previous match where that failed to happen? Now to see if Japan can exploit the Greek error. ... For more than a half Japan got very close many times, but don't seem to have that player who, presented the ball close to the goal, knows how to get it in. Or maybe they do have one in Kasuke Honda, but he seemed to be positioned in the midfield all day. Mysterious. It's looking like both of these teams are destined to be left behind.
6/20 Italy(15) 0 - 1 Costa Rica(25) (Group D) UPSET!
Even though they won their first match 3-0, no one was expecting much from Costa Rica in this one, especially since in their first match, Italy defeated England. But could that match have been more about England's (lack of) defense than about Italy's attack? Buffon, the veteran top keeper for Italy, returns for this match and is having a good one, making several important stops. Italy is having a lot more trouble with the Costa Rican defense than they did with England's. Pirlo is not able to make so many of those long accurate passes; he is being pressured and forced to play quite deep. Late in the first half the Costa Rican forward Campbell is knocked down in the box just before he surely would have scored, but everyone is shocked that there is no call. Moments later Costa Rica are back in the box again and head a great cross onto the crossbar and into the goal. The stunning halftime score is 1-0. Italy's Balotelli (SuperMario) had two chances, but couldn't convert either one. Early in the second half an Italian player knocks down a Costa Rican one and then throws himself on the ball. The referee awards a kick to Italy! It's quite close to the Costa Rican goal as well. Fortunately for the sake of justice Pirlo is unable to score. If this score holds up, one feature that future opponents must reckon with is the Costa Rican back five; they display tremendous teamwork and have given Italy so much trouble that Balotelli is on the verge of a temper tantrum. (By the end of the day Italy will have been called for offside a stupendous 11 times.) And that's the way it finishes, incidentally, removing the last chance of England. What is impressive most of all is not the way Costa Rica have held off Italy, but the way they have confidently and competently moved the ball forward. This will bear watching.
6/20 Switzerland(18) 2 - 5 France(6) (Group E)
France first scored in the 16th minute on a corner kick header, so wide and high it was impossible to stop. Just a moment later the Swiss lost the ball, a great pass went to Benzema and he buried it on the ground to the near post. Around minute 30 Benzema was brought down in the box, foolishly because he was just about to cross the touch line anyway. So far there have been seven penalties taken in this tournament, and seven goals, but this one was poorly taken and stopped by the Swiss keeper! The French got to the rebound first, but it went off the crossbar. The Swiss saved this one at least and maybe will get a momentum swing out of it. They certainly seem to be passing the ball better on the attack. But this leaves them more vulnerable to strong French counterattacks as they get another shortly before the half. This is looking like a blowout. ... After the French have scored 5, the Swiss get a free kick directly in front of the goal. Staying on the ground it goes through the wall and too near the post for the keeper to stop. This result tends to imply a massive French ability to attack, but I think it's not so much the case. There have been defensive lapses and after the first two goals it only became worse as the hopelessness of their situation grew. The Swiss, however, can still recover by winning their last game, so even this disaster is not the end of the world. With four minutes to go the Swiss score again on a great goal, similar to that of Cahill. Of course the French are not trying so hard at this point.
6/20 Honduras(30) 2 - 1 Ecuador(12) (Group E)
This seems like an obscure and uninteresting match, but it features something unique in World Cup history: both coaches formerly coached the other side in the World Cup. After the 3-0 drubbing they took in their first match, I wasn't expecting too much from Honduras, but in the 30th minute a long kick to the two forwards was not properly handled by the defenders and turned into the first Honduras goal since 1982 in Spain. But just three minutes later Ecuador gave their many fans something to cheer about when after their long shot was deflected, Valencia put in the rebound. In the second half it's Valencia scoring again, this time heading one in on a free kick that worked like a corner. The South American teams seem very comfortable and possibly all of then are going to go through to the next round.
6/21 Argentina(2) 1 - 0 Iran(29) (Group F)
This was a frustrating game because Iran decided to "park the bus". Are you onto this new soccer phrase yet? It means to put the whole team defensively in front of one's own goal and prevent anything coming in, but thereby giving up any chance of scoring. Actually, Iran might have scored a few times, but as they only sent one player forward, it became rather unlikely. On the other side, Argentina are very good, but probably they have not experienced this very much before. As their players are spread across Europe and South America, probably they do not play together all that often. Then too, when they play at the club level they meet teams with a rough parity in skill level; teams that wouldn't go with the park the bus approach. So it became a puzzle to them, one that was not figured out until Messi himself did it in the injury extra time of the second half. It's a good thing he did too for Iran would have been perfectly happy with a tie on this one and it would have been an upset.
6/21 Germany(4) 2 - 2 Ghana(20) (Group G) UPSET!
Here is a result that must indeed be considered an upset. Germany should have won, but they didn't play that way. They had defensive lapses. They were slow and inaccurate on the attack. Maybe they were less able to handle the 86F temperature than the Ghanaians. Whatever the reason, Ghana actually got more shots and shots on on goal than did the Germans. In retrospect maybe they wished they had parked the bus like the Americans did. Germany scored first on a strange header from Götze that first hit his knee before heading into the net. But then Ghana scored twice. The Germans put in two veterans: Schweinsteiger (age 30) and Klose (36) who have not appeared in the tournament yet. Moments later Klose put in the equalizer in a corner kick play and then did his customary body flip, only nowadays he can't land it on his feet anymore. But he deserves plenty of credit just for trying. I expect we'll see these two super subs starting the next match.
6/21 Nigeria(24) 1 - 0 Bosnia(13) (Group F) UPSET!
This was a match marred by a poor refereeing. Bosnia scored a great goal on a great forward pass, but it was called back by the assistant referee for offside. Video replay showed it was nothing of the kind. Shortly after that Nigeria scored, but committing a foul along the way that would have prevented it. Now Bosnia-Herzegovina, making their first appearance in the World Cup and with a good team, is going home. FIFA really must address these officiating faults if this tournament is to maintain its credibility.
6/22 Belgium(11) 1 - 0 Russia(16) (Group H)
Belgium wins, but only in the 87th minute. It was a fast and free-flowing goal, but somehow the defenses on each side were too good to permit goals. The goal was scored by running the ball to the touch line on the left and then centering it to oncoming strikers. Belgium needs to find a higher level of teamwork and finishing skill, though they have a lot of good individuals. With this win they go through, but it's questionable how much further.
6/22 South Korea(27) 2 - 4 Algeria(32) (Group H)
The Algeria team has an interesting relationship with France. Most of the team's players trained there, some even being brought up there. At the same time, if you took all the players of Algerian descent who have played for France, players like Zenedine Zidane and Karim Benzema as just two examples, there's no telling what Algeria might have accomplished by now. Against Belgium they played very defensively, but against this opponent that's not necessary and so they have been able to exploit the weaknesses of the Korean defense and keeper. Their first goal was quite a play. On a long breakaway pass the Algerian striker ran with the ball, bouncing it forward, being shadowed by a Korean on other side with the keeper looming. At the end he caught the bounce just right and flicked it to the side of the keeper and into the net. Then, just moments later, Algeria was back with a corner. The keeper was there, but he chickenheartedly tried to hit the ball from the side instead of traveling to it directly. Had he done so, he would have blocked the Algerian coming forward, but since he didn't the Algerian was able to surge forward and reach the ball before the keeper could and it was 2-0. The third goal was another defensive failure as the Koreans left a striker uncovered right in front of the goal and he did not miss. Poor Korea. On their side, all their attacks fizzle out with mistakes or at least lack of creativity. Let's see if they can right the ship in the second half. Impressively, they do! Just four minutes in they copy the Algerian style: kick a long pass downfield and see what happens! The ball landed on Son's back of all places. But he turned and put it in! I find it so mpressive that they have not given up. They are also putting on impressive outside attacks as well, even if they have not quite worked yet. But Algeria are not idle either and in the 61st put in another one of their own. Two strikers threaded their way through five Korean defenders and put it in. What a lot of scoring! This is the first African team to score four goals in the World Cup. In the 66th minute Son has a breakaway run from the middle of the field, but is tackled. The tackler receives a yellow card, but by the rules should receive a red for fouling a breakaway. In the 71st minute Korea puts in yet another, again via the long pass method. How sad that both teams in this match cannot win. Presuming Algeria ultimately triumph, I'm very curious how they will play Russia!
6/22 United States(19) 2 - 2 Portugal(14) (Group G)
At the start of this match the ESPN announcer said "get ready for another rollercoaster ride"; he certainly knew what he was talking about. Unlike the last US game, this time the opposition, Nani, who hasn't scored in years, scored in the first five minutes and hearts sank. But the team did not fold up their tents just yet and actually dominated play for the rest of the half, taking quite a few shots, though all of them low percentage affairs from the outside. After the half, it was more back and forth until about the twentieth minute when Jermaine Jones, again from the outside put in one of the very best shots of this tournament. The path followed such a curve, initially looking out and then bending back inside the right post that the keeper was completely fooled; he never moved. Later, after a series of rebounds in front of the goal, Dempsey was able to put in another one at very short range, with his belly! It seemed the USA was on the way to a 2-1 victory, but it was not to be. Around the midfield, Bradley lost the ball to Ronaldo. That was the first mistake. Then there was only one defender running along with Ronaldo, the second mistake. The third mistake was not sufficiently covering Ronaldo's target who received his magnificent pass in exactly the right place to take the game to a 2-2 tie in the last minute of injury time.
6/23 The Netherlands(10) 2 - 0 Chile(5) (Group B) UPSET!
Chile are a team not good in the air, but the Netherlands are. Despite this, the Netherlands best first half chance on a free kick still went awry. But it seems to be a game full of free kicks so maybe they will yet make one work. The Dutch are also missing van Persie. But what a run Robben made in the first half, dribbling across half the field. Chile have no one who can keep up with him. At the end though the shot was just wide. Had van Persie been there running alongside him as usual he would have had another option and maybe there would have been a goal instead. At minute 76 finally the header does fall from a set-piece play and the Netherlands take the lead. Let's see if Chile can come back in this contest to avoid a next-round match against their Brazilian hosts. No, instead it's the Dutch scoring again after another Robben long run, this time with a successful cros that goes in.
6/23 Australia(31) 0 - 3 Spain(3) (Group B)
No doubt Australia will be hampered by not having their star, Tim Cahill, out due to successive yellow cards. In this match Spain decided to give up their usual red uniforms. Their alternate kit is an unusual one: black trimmed with Dayglo yellow. It's very dramatic, but seems too garish for such a soccer power of such long standing. Spain have been slow getting going; it's the twentieth minute before they managed to really put together some nice combinations and shots that are part of a sustained siege of the Aussie goal, and even then they did not score. What's noticeable on the Australian side is the apparent lack of a theory of soccer. At best it looks like the English football of yesteryear, at its worst, a reliance on individual skills alone without any particular design or plan. Australia have never lost their third group match, but Spain have never lost all three group matches. From what I've seen so far, it will be Spain who maintain their record. And in the 36th minute there it is! An open striker in the corner passes it back to the middle and a wide open David Villa cleverly heeled it in, completely misdirecting the goalkeeper. The Australian defense has been so pressed that probably they are just too tired. Spain's team today is not usual one, but infused with a number of younger players, those who are not injured. They are not playing a pure tiki taka style either, but sometimes delivering the long ball or having David Villa make long runs on the left. After the half Australia come out with a sub (Halloran) and an energetic ten minutes, but to no avail. Their best chance so far has been just after they gave up their goal. Funny how many matches have seen that particular circumstance. And now David Villa has been taken off, in tears; he probably has an idea this is his last match for Spain, certainly for the World Cup. Spain's goalkeeper didn't even start the match; the longtime backup finally got a start instead. Something should be said about Australia's keeper, who is really playing in the Neuer style out there. He comes way out, astonishingly even taking a ball from the other keeper on his head, and that outside the box -- gutsy! Spain don't look like themselves, however. They kind of stand around, even when they have the ball, and then give a bad pass right to an opposing player. They're also playing kind of dirty for the first time, pushing on the opposing players after play has stopped. All in all it's not exactly the beautiful game we've come to expect. But they take advantage of Australian fatigue again, breaking through a sloppy offside trap to get a pass to Torres who breaks open and scores. The third goal comes in the 82nd minute when an excellent cross reaches the undefended Mata just at the corner of the goal and he puts it between the keeper's legs. This has been the dullest match to feature three goals I've ever seen. As for the future, this match has not been Spain's renaissance; they will need to do more than this. On the other hand, despite what has happened in this tournament, Spanish fans need not give up hope. There's plenty of life here yet.
6/23 Cameroon(28) 1 - 4 Brazil(1) (Group A)
Did not see this one.This is probably the largest mismatch of the tournament. Neymar scored in the first 15 minutes and then again later and finally Fred got a goal.
6/23 Croatia(23) 1 - 3 Mexico(21) (Group A)
This is an interesting match since the two teams are ranked nearly the same, play with different styles and must at least tie to avoid elimination; actually, Croatia needs a win. No wonder they dominate the first 15 minutes entirely; they have no luck getting the ball into the net, however. Then Mexico come back on a fast counterattack, but are also unable to finish. A lot of balls are hitting posts and crossbars today. Although Mexico begins to press and dominate, by the half nobody has scored. In minute 64 Mexico has a good shoot from the corner, but a Croatian defender turned his back and stopped it with his elbow, a possible handball call, but refused by the referee, to the derision of the crowd and the fury of the Mexican coach. Finally in minute 71 Mexico's old captain puts one in on a corner kick. Now Croatia is desperate, having to put in not just one, but two. They do get close to the goal, but keep making mistakes just at the end. Meanwhile, with all the players forward, as is often the case, they are vulnerable to the fast break that Mexico uses to score again. Looks like a good Croatian team with a lot of good players is about to exit the Cup. Just for fun, Mexico sends in a sub who scores on another corner. Or maybe they are trying to win the group? They only need one goal more. That would certainly flabbergast Brazil. But now that it begins to matter, here comes Croatia to spoil the party. Finally, Perisic who played such an important role in the last match does a very nice overlapping run and puts an unstoppable one into the corner. Where has he been for the last hour? But Croatia make mistakes too. Rebic comes in a little late, with his foot high, and kicks the opposition. It seemed the main mistake was just running too slowly, but the referee gives an original red card. Then Brazil scores another goal, probably ensuring their standing atop the group. This means Mexico will play Netherlands and Brazil, Chile.
There is a strange circumstance here. Groups A and B are playing today. It would be natural for Group A to play in the morning and B in the afternoon, but somehow the timings are the reverse. Since the winners of these two groups will play one another, it's better to play second. It just happens that the group playing second is that of the hosts, Brazil. Coincidence or not? It is true that all the succeeding timings are done the same way: D before C, F before E, etc.
6/24 Italy(15) 0 - 1 Uruguay(8) (Group D)
Both teams came out very much wanting and needing to win, with the consequence that the adrenaline was flowing and the fouling frequent. In the first half hour neither side is getting close to the goal. About the best Italy can do is a free kick by Pirlo that the keeper punched away. Suarez had a ball bouncing around in front of the Italian goal for a while, but the keeper eventually came up with it. For the second half Italy removed their striker, Balotelli. I hadn't expected it, but he hadn't done much other than draw a yellow card for jumping up and landing on a guy's neck. Italy seems to have come out with a more disciplined approach. Their passing is crisper and they seem to be trying to avoid fouls, though some are creeping in anyway and its possible Cavani was fouled in the box. Apparently I wrote too soon for in the 60th minute the Italian, Marchisi, receives a red card for charging and pushing down another player who tried to take from him, the ball. In the 80th it appeared Suarez tried to bite someone. He has twice been suspended from soccer for doing this. But shortly after Uruguay score their first goal, a header from a corner kick. In the remaining minutes, when Italy should have been straining for a goal, they instead look tired and deflated. In the end even Buffon, the old keeper, came down to help the attack, capering around like an old monkey. But it availed not; Uruguay triumphs to the delight of its many fans at the stadium.
6/24 Costa Rica(25) 0 - 0 England(9) (Group D) UPSET!
Did not see. Apparently the English scoring woes continue. So, astonishingly, Costa Rica escape as winners of Group D, with Uruguay in second place and historical powerhouses England and Italy left behind.
6/24 Japan(26) 1 - 4 Colombia(7) (Group C)
Colombia, already through, have decided to basically use the second team for this match. Even so they are plenty good and have such an effective attack that in the 17th minute a Japanese midfielder unwisely decides to take down a player in the box. Colombia does not miss the penalty kick. The problem Japan have is that when Colombia makes a mistake they do not take advantage, but Uchida finally puts one in just before the half ends. It was scored on a header, which surprising since Japan do not seem very adept at this method. But then, the header is rather different, being accomplished with the player bent over and thus about waist high rather than the usual leaping situation. Colombia's James Rodriguez sets up an excellent shot in the second half. So young and already so good. In the second half Japan have good chance after good chance, but just do not manage to get them in. In minute 81 Colombia, on a breakaway, score another one. This is probably it for Japan; they will end at the bottom of their group. James Rodriguez, with amazing poise for one only age 22, scores one more at the end. Colombia will be a team to watch in the next round.
6/24 Greece(22) 2 - 1 Ivory Coast(17) (Group C)
In the first half Ivory Coast makes a mistake bringing the ball up and two Greeks race to the goal with the ball. They do not miss and as it stands now Greece will go through. In the 74th minute Ivory Coast make a couple of brilliant passes that culminate in a goal to tie the game and put themselves through. They decide to take out their main striker, Drogba, and put in a more defensive player. We'll see how that defensive move works out for them. Showing a talent and determination note seen in their earlier matches, Greece dominated the second half, but without further result, until the injury time when one of their players was struck from behind almost on the penalty spot. It looked rather questionable to me, but a penalty was called and Samaras did not miss. So it will be Colombia and Greece going through to the next round, Colombia playing Uruguay and Greece, Costa Rica.
6/25 Nigeria(24) 2 - 3 Argentina(2) (Group F)
I wasn't expecting too much from this match; after all, Argentina only needs a tie. But the game had hardly started when Messi received a rebound from a hard shot and put it into the top of the net. But on their own possession, Nigeria charged right back and with their own hard shot put one into net's far corner. All of this happened by the fourth minute of the match! Then, there is surprisingly no more scoring until the injury time when Messi, on a free kick from impossibly far out, puts it into the net so high and in the corner that all the keeper can do is stare and despair. But at the start of the second half, Nigeria starts with the ball and Musa, who scored the first goal, just goes downfield and scores another! This is not saying much for the Argentine defense. But just a couple minutes later, an Argentine corner kick produces yet another goal. Is this soccer or basketball? Not that the Nigerian defense is better, of course. They gave Messi huge amounts of space and really, Argentina should have scored more than they did.
6/25 Bosnia(13) 3 - 1 Iran(29) (Group F)
Did not see. Iran could have gone through with a win, but their ability against Nigeria failed against Bosnia-Herzegovina. So Argentina win the group and Nigeria also goes through. Iran ends at the bottom of the group.
6/25 Honduras(30) 0 - 3 Switzerland(18) (Group E)
The Swiss score their first goal in the 7th minute on a very strong outside shot to the upper corner. Unstoppable. This does not augur well for Honduras. In the 32nd minute, the Swiss score again, on a break. Honduras is just not having a good tournament, which is a shame for CONCACAF. It's odd, too, because Mexico, which was supposed to be the worst CONCACAF team, have done much better for themselves. Now there is great pressure on Ecuador, but it doesn't look like they will be able to adequately respond. In the 70th minute, the Swiss dribble around the opposition and Shaqiri gets his hattrick.
6/25 Ecuador(12) 0 - 0 France(6) (Group E)
This game is revealing the weaknesses on both sides. For France it's their center back (on defense) who takes terrible risks and will get fouls and penalties against his team. As for Ecuador, only on the fast break can they generate goal opportunities. Otherwise they do not find the open spaces or pass or position wisely enough to hold on to the ball. In the second half Ecuador's best player, striker and captain goes out on a well-deserved red card. Playing 11 v. 10 and with so many goals in the first two matches, it may seem surprising that in the 67th minute France has yet to score. But the Ecuadorian defense is good and they keep most of their players back, which is no doubt hurting their attack. France have had several good shots, but all directly at the keeper. My guess is that eventually France will get a goal or corner kick conversion. At around the 84th minute the game finally opens up with continual attacks, on both sides, as both realize that they really do want the win. But maybe they have left it to too late as all attempts continue to fail; the stalemate continues. The French are a little guilty, too, of not playing as a team. Sometimes when they could have passed to another player they are taking the lower percentage shot themselves, and missing. France win this group and Switzerland go through as well.
6/26 Portugal(14) 2 - 1 Ghana(20) (Group G)
Did not see. From the highlights, Ghana gave away an own goal under Portuguese pressure. The Portuguese shot was poorly deflected and managed to go in. In return Ghana got a very impressive goal on a header that fooled the keeper by going to the ground and bouncing in. The final goal came from a ball that deflected very high straight up in from of Ghana's goal. The keeper and a Portuguese player waited and waited for it come down; when it did they struggled over it and it bounced to the feet of Ronaldo, just a few meters away. He wasted no time but immediately kicked it in to the far corner with his left foot. It's unfortunate that Ghana could not go through in this group because they are talented team and I enjoy watching them, especially the way that they score goals. Probably they would have played better today if not for the internal dissension on their team. They were distracted in their preparation because of the trouble they had getting paid the $3.3 million owed them by their federation. In addition, two of their best players were dismissed for this match, Muntari because he allegedly assaulted an FA officia, and Boateng because he verbally assaulted the coach. But FIFA really need to revisit their ranking and seeding systems so that teams like this have more of a chance. As for Portugal, they had Pepe, their best defender, back for this match, which probably helped them. But it was his stupid red card that really cost his team because it must have contributed to their losing four points of goal difference against Germany and giving up two to the USA. Portugal's failure to play up to their potential really looks like their own fault.
6/26 United States(19) 0 - 1 Germany(4) (Group G)
Germany came out for the first time in their red-and-blue striped uniforms, that look more like they should be the US uniform. They proceeded to pretty much dominate the match, though the US had their chances here and there. Basically the US attack usually could not hold on to the ball for very long. But it was a lackluster match in general, perhaps influenced by the steady rain that continued throughout. Germany scored only in the second half when a corner kick led to a Mertesacker header which the keeper successfully punched out, but right to Müller who put it brilliantly just inside the far post. It was quite similar to the Ronaldo goal, actually. The US lost, but thanks to the Portugal goal they go through anyway, while Germany are at the top of the group.
6/26 South Korea(27) 0 - 1 Belgium(11) (Group H)
For the first time the Belgians came out looking quite sharp in their black uniforms with bright yellow trim – best in the tournament so far. I hadn't expected it, but in the first half this developed into a fairly ugly match with plenty of fouls and gratuitous shoving by both sides. Just before the end of the half the Belgian Defour made a hard charge, landing on a Korean leg, and was shown the red card. It will be interesting to see whether Korea can capitalize on this or whether their lackluster defense will betray them again. So far both sides have had good chances, but have not capitalized. Score is 0-0 at the half. In the 77th Belgium finally score when an outside shot bounces off the keeper and they put in the rebound before he can reset himself.
6/26 Algeria(32) 1 - 1 Russia(16) (Group H) UPSET!
In the sixth minute, Russia, with an Algerian temporarily out due to bleeding, put in a brilliant header. From that point, to use a new expression, Algeria were "on their front foot", i.e. thinking more about offense than defense. Algeria need to win to go through. Despite this Russia has been looking much the better team and will probably prevail in the end. At the half: 1-0. In the second half Algeria come out looking much more ready to play attacking football. They may have changed their formation, even, for in the 60th minute, they have a free kick from close to the corner after a Russian foul so egregious it earned a yellow card. In another weird development in this World Cup, suddenly the light of a green laser appeared on the Russian keeper. Whether this distracted or otherwise disturbed him is unknown, but he was unable to get to the ball in the air. Instead an Algerian put it in. Now it is 1-1 and as things stand Belgium and Algeria would go through. It's Russia's turn to be on the front foot, but they are unable to go ahead so they are out. Belgium win this group, with Algerian also going through. This is the first time two African teams have gone through.
Now that group play is complete, let's see how the predictions came
Predicted: 1. Brazil, Cameroon, Croatia, 2. Mexico
Actual: 1. Brazil, Cameroon, Croatia, 2. Mexico
Predicted: Australia, 2. Chile, Netherlands, 1. Spain
Actual: Australia, 2. Chile, 1. Netherlands, Spain
Predicted: 1. Colombia, 2. Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
Actual: 1. Colombia, 2. Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
Predicted: Costa Rica, 2. England, Italy, 1. Uruguay
Actual: 1. Costa Rica, England, Italy, 2. Uruguay
Predicted: 2. Ecuador, 1. France, Honduras, Switzerland
Actual: Ecuador, 1. France, Honduras, 2. Switzerland
Predicted: 1. Argentina, 2. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria
Actual: 1. Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, 2. Nigeria
Predicted: 1. Germany, Ghana, Portugal, 2. United States
Actual: 1. Germany, Ghana, Portugal, 2. United States
Predicted: Algeria, 1. Belgium, 2. Russia, South Korea
Actual: 2. Algeria, 1. Belgium, Russia, South Korea
So it's 11 out of 16; at least it's better than 50-50. The success of the African teams seems to be the biggest blind spot.
Let's also see how the continents did:
North America: 3 of 4
South America: 5 of 6
Asia: 0 of 4
Africa: 2 of 5
Europe: 6 of 13
Based on this, probably North and South America will receive more berths next time around at the expense of Asia and Europe.
As the World Cup takes a day off between stages, perhaps it's time to consider which team can win. Thinking about this brought a realization. There is probably a pattern-matching solution to this problem. Winning the World Cup seems to require matching a particular pattern. Part of it is having success in one's own continent and another part of it is having most of the team's players in the world's best leagues. But there is also an unexpected one.
It sseems that the World Cup Winners form a club. For a long time this club had only seven members and only in 2010 did it welcome an eighth. What does this club require for entry? Look at this:
Uruguay hosted 1930, joined the club 1930
Italy hosted 1934, joined the club 1934
Germany (would have) hosted in 1942, joined the club 1954 (in Switzerland)
Brazil hosted in 1950, joined the club in 1958
England hosted in 1966, joined the club in 1966
Argentina hosted in 1978, joined the club in 1978
France hosted in 1938, joined the club in 1998
Spain hosted in 1982, joined the club in 2010
It appears that the nation in question must have previously hosted the World Cup.
So who else has hosted?
Thus, of the final 16, it seems that your eventual winner must be one
of the following nine teams:
Sorry about that Netherlands. Looks like you should work to get that hosting in soon. Maybe you can combine with Belgium to get that done.
Match 49: Brazil - Group A winner vs. Chile - Group B runner-up, 9
The first match of South American Saturday featured a surprising amount of fouling and therefore a real lack of flow. I suppose this was mostly due to the players being amped up on adrenaline for this do-or-die match in front of the home crowds. Brazil in particular is under a lot of pressure. There was also a fair amount of diving, but the English referee was not taken in. Everyone expected Brazil to win, but after their goal Chile quickly came back, stole the ball on a careless throw-in on the Brazilian half and put in the equalizer. After that, despite several concentrated attacks from both sides, neither side could score, even in the overtime period. Finally it came to penalties, which was one of the more pathetic performances by shooters ever seen. The final tally was 3-2 in favor of Brazil, with Neymar putting in the final one for the win. I can see coaches around the tournament immediately ordering extra penalty kicking practice for their teams. It was lucky for Neymar that Brazil was able to win this, else he probably would have been the goat of this match for not doing more. It's sad see Chile leave as they played well and held off Brazil, who are really not looking the dominant team everyone expected.
Match 50: Colombia - Group C winner vs. Uruguay - Group D runner-up, 1 PM
Not much was expected from Uruguay after the suspension of Suarez and so it was. The excellent Diego Forlan is looking every bit of his 35 years and the torch is being passed to the twenty year old James Rodriguez of Colombia who scored twice. Maybe it's just that Uruguay is not that good, but Colombia looked very good. Their upcoming battle with Brazil should be a real contest.
Thursday, June 12
Group A: Brazil vs. Croatia, 1 PM (ESPN)
Friday, June 13
Group A: Mexico vs. Cameroon, 9 AM (ESPN2)
Group B: Spain vs. The Netherlands, Noon (ESPN)
Group B: Chile vs. Australia, 3 PM (ESPN2)
Saturday, June 14
Group C: Colombia vs. Greece, 9 AM (ABC)
Group D: Uruguay vs. Costa Rica, Noon (ABC)
Group D: England vs. Italy, 3 PM (ESPN)
Group C: Ivory Coast vs. Japan, 6 PM (ESPN)
Sunday, June 15
Group E: Switzerland vs. Ecuador, 9 AM (ABC)
Group E: France vs. Honduras, Noon (ABC)
Group F: Argentina vs. Bosnia, 3 PM (ESPN)
Monday, June 16
Group G: Germany vs. Portugal, 9 AM (ESPN)
Group F: Iran vs. Nigeria, Noon (ESPN)
Group G: United States vs. Ghana, 3 PM (ESPN)
Tuesday, June 17
Group H: Belgium vs. Algeria, 9 AM (ESPN)
Group A: Brazil vs. Mexico, Noon (ESPN)
Group H: Russia vs. South Korea, 3 PM (ESPN)
Wednesday, June 18
Group B: Australia vs. The Netherlands, 9 AM (ESPN)
Group B: Spain vs. Chile, Noon (ESPN)
Group A: Cameroon vs. Croatia, 3 PM (ESPN)
Thursday, June 19
Group C: Colombia vs. Ivory Coast, 9 AM (ESPN)
Group D: Uruguay vs. England, Noon (ESPN)
Group C: Japan vs. Greece, 3 PM (ESPN)
Friday, June 20
Group D: Italy vs. Costa Rica, 9 AM (ESPN)
Group E: Switzerland vs. France, Noon (ESPN)
Group E: Honduras vs. Ecuador, 3 PM (ESPN)
Saturday, June 21
Group F: Argentina vs. Iran, 9 AM (ESPN)
Group G: Germany vs. Ghana, Noon (ESPN)
Group F: Nigeria vs. Bosnia, 3 PM (ESPN)
Sunday, June 22
Group H: Belgium vs. Russia, 9 AM (ABC)
Group H: South Korea vs. Algeria, Noon (ABC)
Group G: United States vs. Portugal, 3 PM (ESPN)
Monday, June 23
Group B: The Netherlands vs. Chile, 9 AM (ESPN)
Group B: Australia vs. Spain, 9 AM (ESPN2)
Group A: Cameroon vs. Brazil, 1 PM (ESPN)
Group A: Croatia vs. Mexico, 1 PM (ESPN2)
Tuesday, June 24
Group D: Italy vs. Uruguay, 9 AM (ESPN)
Group D: Costa Rica vs. England, 9 AM (ESPN2)
Group C: Japan vs. Colombia, 1 PM (ESPN)
Group C: Greece vs. Ivory Coast, 1 PM (ESPN2)
Wednesday, June 25
Group F: Nigeria vs. Argentina, 9 AM (ESPN)
Group F: Bosnia vs. Iran, 9 AM (ESPN2)
Group E: Honduras vs. Switzerland, 1 PM (ESPN)
Group E: Ecuador vs. France, 1 PM (ESPN2)
Thursday, June 26
Group G: Portugal vs. Ghana, 9 AM (ESPN2)
Group G: United States vs. Germany, 9 AM (ESPN)
Group H: South Korea vs. Belgium, 1 PM (ESPN)
Group H: Algeria vs. Russia, 1 PM (ESPN2)
Saturday, June 28
Match 49: Brazil - Group A winner vs. Chile - Group B runner-up, 9 AM (ABC)
Match 50: Group C winner vs. Group D runner-up, 1 PM (ABC)
Sunday, June 29
Match 51: Netherlands - Group B winner vs. Mexico - Group A runner-up, 9 AM (ESPN)
Match 52: Group D winner vs. Group C runner-up, 1 PM (ESPN)
Monday, June 30
Match 53: Group E winner vs. Group F runner-up, 9 AM (ESPN)
Match 54: Group G winner vs. Group H runner-up, 1 PM (ESPN)
Tuesday, July 1
Match 55: Group F winner vs. Group E runner-up, 9 AM (ESPN)
Match 56: Group H winner vs. Group G runner-up, 1 PM (ESPN)
Friday, July 4
Match 58: Match 53 winner vs. Match 54 winner, 9 AM (ESPN2)
Match 57: Match 49 winner vs. Match 50 winner, 1 PM (ESPN)
Saturday, July 5
Match 60: Match 55 winner vs. Match 56 winner, 9 AM (ABC)
Match 59: Match 51 winner vs. Match 52 winner, 1 PM (ESPN)
Tuesday, July 8
Match 61: Match 57 winner vs. Match 58 winner, 9 AM (ESPN)
Wednesday, July 9
Match 62: Match 59 winner vs. Match 60 winner, 1 PM (ESPN)
Saturday, July 12
Third-Place Game, 1 PM (ESPN)
Sunday, July 13
Final, Noon (ABC)
— Tue Jun 10 21:43:17 UTC 2014