Winners and losers of the World Cup – Week Three

Things are starting to get a little tight at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. That’s to be expected as we reach the knock-out stages. Here are the winners and losers of the third week.

Winners

Netherlands

Louis van Gaal and his men are making a habit of doing things in the most exciting way possible. They have come from behind on three occasions so far in the World Cup and you wouldn’t bet against them finding another entertaining way of reaching the semi-finals. Arjen Robben looks to be at the peak of his game and is terrorising every defence that he comes up against. After the horrendous PR that the whole team received thanks to their performance in the 2010 World Cup, this tournament has gone a long way to reminding everyone just how much fun they can be.

Argentina

Easily the most disappointing of the teams still in the tournament so far, Argentina just haven’t got going. They have been dragged kicking and screaming through the early rounds by the brilliance of Lionel Messi and a decent back-line. They need to click into gear at some point or they won’t have enough to keep plodding through. They will get found out unless their performances improve. For now, they have done just enough and that will worry the others in the tournament. A team with Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Ezequiel Lavezzi at its disposal have to get their act together at some point.

Losers

Greece

Greece had nearly an hour to play against 10 men after Oscar Duarte had picked up his second yellow of the match. They piled on the pressure by throwing bodies and the ball into the Costa Rica penalty area but couldn’t find a way to break down their defences on two occasions. Sokratis Papastathopoulos bundled the ball into the net and sent the match into extra-time; but they didn’t have enough to get a second goal. A real opportunity at earning a place in the quarter finals missed.

USA

It’s really easy to get a country behind their national team in almost any sport. If enough media outlets get behind the charge then it will eventually capture the imagination. Just look at how the people of the United Kingdom responded to Andy Murray’s Wimbledon win in 2013 or even Ben Ainslie’s Americas Cup triumph. It doesn’t mean that tennis or sailing are suddenly dominant sports in the country. The same will ultimately be the case for soccer in the United States. Their 2014 exploits will be well received and it’ll help participation but the club game is still a long way behind the more established US sports. It’ll still be the case in 2018.

Chile

Just a few inches lower and they would have dumped the hosts out of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Mauricio Pinilla could have been the hero of the hour with his rasping effort that rattled the bar. From there, it was down to penalties and the Chileans ultimately cracked. They got so close to being the ultimate party poopers.

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