2014 World Cup Ousting Contenders Left and Right
While it happens at every major international soccer tournament, it always to seems to surprise people when some of the pre-tournament favorites are booted out of the competition during the group stages. Here we are, in the just the second week of the World Cup and we will already be bidding adieu to famous soccer nations like Spain and England. Both squads are full of world-class talent and expected to go far in Brazil, only to see their hopes and dreams crushed in the opening matches of the tournament. But as we will come to understand in the matches ahead, elimination is just a regular piece of the game and will be painfully experienced by all but one of the 32 teams entered into this World Cup.
For Spain, the early departure from Brazil is a complete shame. Reigning World Cup and European Cup champions, the Spanish came to this event as one of the world’s few hopes of contending against the heavy tournament favorite Brazil. Up and down the roster they ooze of talent, yet a 5-1 thrashing by the Netherlands and a 2-0 defeat to Chile ensured that their World Cup is now finished.
The English suffered from a very challenging draw that placed them up against Italy and Uruguay in their first two games. Unfortunately, one of these three teams was sure to go home. England was beaten 2-1 in both games, fighting hard and competitively in two very close contests, but ultimately being sent packing for home.
Looking ahead, the pressure of the 2014 World Cup is simply set to grow. As we enter the teams’ third and decisive group stage matches, from here on out the party is over. There will be no more celebrations of the game and wonderful proud moments of walking onto the field. From now until a champion is determined in roughly 3 weeks, every match will be monumental and will result in a team being sent home, especially as the knockout rounds begin.
But this is what the World Cup is all about. The high pressure and intensity of quarterfinal and semifinal matches takes the sport into an entirely other worldly level of drama. These will literally become the biggest matches of any players’ careers and will determine whether their fate lies as soccer legends or simply be placed in the record books as also-rans.
So fear not for the World Cup when you see more contenders fall out of the race (Croatia just limped out during this writing); the entire tournament is staged as a proving ground to see who truly is the best. And while some prominent teams like England and Spain have been eliminated (along with scores of others in the next week), most of the big boys will be progressing with relative ease. The likes of France, Argentina, Brazil, and Germany are looking well poised to make a serious run this World Cup. However, if you’re looking for drama, be sure to check in on the Uruguay vs. Italy match tomorrow morning as another prime contender will be sent to the chopping block!