Friday, June 20, 2014

Revisiting Expectations - World Cup

This World Cup. Oh my goodness.

Time to revisit the pre-tournament expectations as we are about halfway through the Group Stage.

Those of you surprised about Mexico's success - I told you so.I am not saying it was an incredibly deep insight, but most writing off Mexico did so due to a poor qualifying campaign, or a poor perception of CONCACAF in general. There is still work to be done in the final game and Croatia definitely have the talent to go through, and are feeling confident after punking Cameroon, but El Tri is full of belief after an amazing performance against Brazil, and rightly so.

As for Brazil, I think a game against those poor Indomitable Lions is going to be just the elixir they need to get their joga bonito going. I am not saying they will certainly win the tournament, but a good pasting of Cameroon will likely inspire them going into the next round.

I will admit - like most of us, I did not see the collapse of Spain coming, but I will take some credit for Chile. La Roja is inspired and talented. Not perfect, but with the passion they are playing with, they don't need to be. The game against Holland may or many not give us an indication about their hopes for the next round.

I am so very happy for my Colombian friends! And from a Dallas soccer perspective, FC Dallas has benefited from Colombia's love of the game and this country for two decades. How about them goal celebrations?  I still think Ivory Coast is the other team to come out of this group, especially after the Greece Japan snoozer. I doubt Japan will be able to beat Colombia and the Ivory Coast will break down what is an increasingly frustrated Greek team.

"Group of Champions"? Ha. More like Group of Costa Rica! I definitely didn't see this, but am very happy for it. Like Mexico, I think Costa Rica (and hopefully the US) will get a Home-Hemisphere boost not only from their fans, but also having to travel north south rather than east west. I still peg Uruguay to go through, but man, that game against Italy is going to be a fantastic Sports Drama moment either way.

Very tough result for Ecuador, but fantastic show of resolve and passion from the Swiss. I think we find out soon if France is going to boss this group or not. If not, it is wide open. I do think that Ecuador will get their mojo going against Honduras, and then we will see where they go with it.

Still Argentina and Bosnia-Hersegovina. Especially after watching Nigeria and Iran show little.

In the Group of Death, many were surprised with the way Portugal lost to Germany, but it seems there is some over-reaction to the game. Yes, there was a red card and injuries aplenty. Yes, it is worrisome. But Portugal SHOULD be deep enough to weather that storm. The real question is whether they can handle it from a mentality standpoint. The US is anything but an easy out at this point. Frankly, neither is Ghana. Both games are "the favorite should win, but..."

Belgium had to put some real pressure to get a win against Algeria. South Korea and Russia showed that they have talent but are flawed. (Goodness gracious, Russia, what a howler in goal....) It seems this is still Belgium to take the group. If Korea can get a win against Algeria, they could advance. Frankly, as shaky as Russia looked, even if Algeria wins they could break through.

Ought to be fun!

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