So it’s one week into the World Cup and things are getting interesting. What do we know now that we didn’t last week? Who’s hot, who’s not and who looks like they could be a serious dark horse in this tournament? Here are some highlights from last week’s matches and what to watch in the coming days:
What were the biggest surprises of the first week of play?
You know that moment in your late 20s when, after a night of pounding tequila shooters, you wake up with the worst hangover you’ve ever had and realize that you are officially old? Spain lived that moment courtesy of a 5-1 beatdown from The Netherlands. It was unexpected, clinical and featured a thunderous header from Robin van Persie. They never really recovered and lost 2-0 to Chile to become the fifth defending champs in history to go down in the first round.
Surprise number two was Costa Rica. Nobody expected the Costa Ricans to beat Uruguay. Uruguay made it all the way to the semi-finals in 2010 and expectations were high for a repeat performance. But without star forward Luis Suarez, Uruguay looked lost, confused and, after a monster second half by Costa Rica, went down in a 3-1 defeat.
Wold Cup host, Brazil, is totally going to run away with the final win, right?
Don’t buy stock in Brazil just yet. They’ve got talent enough to win the whole tournament, but two games in, I’m not sure what’s up with the home team. Maybe the pressure and the massive expectations are getting to them, but Croatia gave them trouble last Thursday, and during their match on Tuesday, Mexico went toe-to-toe with them, resulting in a scoreless draw thanks to an impressive performance byu their goalie Guillermo Ochoa. Bet on them advancing, but don’t bet on anything after that.
How is the USA doing? Are we still in it?
Yes we are! Clint Dempsey scored less than a minute into the game and John Anthony Brooks added a go-ahead goal in the 82nd minute to give the USA a great start to our World Cup with a 2-1 win over Ghana. But things won’t get easier going forward: We’ve got Portugal and Germany next, though Portugal might be somewhat depleted with Pepe out due to a red card and Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly not at 100 percent with a knee issue. Still, there should be plenty of nail-biting, heart-stopping drama ahead for the U.S. team.
What other highlights did I miss in the first week?
A bunch! Fred (yes, that’s his real name) had the dive of the tournament thus far, resulting in one horrifically bad call by the ref and a win for Brazil due to a penalty kick against Croatia. We also saw the first use of goal line technology in France versus Honduras. And if you’ve ever wondered just how many people can fit into Donnelly’s downtown, then take a look at this video:
Here are the matches to watch during Week 2:
Switzerland v. France, 2 p.m., ESPN
A solid Swiss team takes on the reinvigorated French squad.
USA v. Portugal, 5 p.m., ESPN
Don’t bother trimming your nails: You’ll be biting them for this one.
Netherlands v Chile, 11 a.m., ESPN
The Battle for Group B supremacy: Don’t miss this game.