The 2014 FIFA World Cup has been nothing short of extraordinary so far, with a number of big results, top individual performances and crazy matches delighting the watching public. After the first round of matches – and a sneaky early second for Brazil and Mexico in Group A- it’s time to look over the big winners and losers, both teams and players, in Brazil ’14 so far.



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Costa Rica produced the biggest shock result of the first week and gave themselves a huge chance of progression in a group they were expected to be the minnows in, with a thoroughly deserved 3-1 win over Uruguay.  They were defensively relatively sound, but countered with increasing boldness and belief as the game went on and were far more inventive than their South American opponents. They’ll struggle against Italy, but taking it to the final group game is more than most would have credited them with pre- tournament.

Netherlands produced the most spectacular result so far as they took their revenge on 2010 final winners Spain. The 5-1 comeback was unexpected, brutal and clinical, especially as Spain were comfortably the better side in the first half and came close to what could have been an unassailable two-goal lead- so even more credit is due to the mentality of Netherlands to keep attacking, keep faith in their shape and believe their front men would terrify Spain if given the chance – which they certainly did.

Germany got the nod as our third side, just ahead of France, for the terrific display of offensive and fluid football they  produced against Portugal, arguably some of the finest movement and passing in the final third the World cup has witnessed so far. They were aided in the 4-0 win by Pepe’s red card, sure, but they were already two goals clear by that point and looked in compete command. If they continue with the same off- the – ball movement and intensity in their link-up play, they won’t miss their injured and absent stars in the slightest.


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Thomas Muller’s hat-trick alone makes him worthy of note, but his intelligent movement, one-touch passing and ability to draw defenders away from him, leaving space in turn for others to exploit, was a big highlight of Germany’s attacking play.

Guillermo Ochoa doesn’t technically have a club right now, having left Ajaccio on a free transfer at the end of the season, but the Mexico goalkeeper has kept two clean sheets including an out-of-this-world display against Brazil in game two.

Daley Blind played a perfect tactical game for Netherlands against Spain, delivering crosses from deep, keeping width and helping double up defensively when the left-sided central players on his team. The wing-back was exceptional in his delivery and Spain couldn’t get coses to him.



Nigeria were atrocious in their use of the ball against Iran. not only was it a game that the African side were expected to win, it was one they needed to win to stand a chance at qualification from Group F, but they’re really up against it now. they were slow, static and utterly unimaginative in their ball use, going long too often and with no movement in the final third whatsoever. The decision to leave Lkechukwu Uche out of the squad looks worse by the day.

Honduras weren’t expected to do much at the finals, but even by those standards they were horrific against France. They defended in numbers but lacked real cohesiveness at times, and their thuggish approach to stopping France playing should have resulted in cards far earlier than it did. How they only had one player, Wilson Palacios, sent of is a mystery.

Spain’s defeat was not, in itself, completely damaging; no loss in isolation ever is. However, the manner of their loss to Netherlands and the fact that the reigning World and European Champions simply gave up, was astounding to see. They might not be used to losing, but there was no leadership, no organisation, no attempt to change what was patently being ripped apart by the Dutch after the break. A big game against Chilie lies ahead and changes must be made.


Cedric Djeugoue is the young Cameroonian right-back who was so poor in his team’s opening game that he was hauled off at half-time. Whether it was nerves or lack of form which held hi back is uncertain, but he looked a million miles off World Cup standard.

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Iker Casillas has to take much of the blame for Spain’s heavy loss, not only for his individual gaolkeeping errors but for being the captain and leader of the team. As a senior player he needed to step up in such a situation, but nobody did.

Paulinho is a starter for Brazil yet not for Tottenham, but after his first two performances that might not be the case much longer. An important tactical part of his team, Paulinho has offered little of his usual bursts from midfield, has been poor in possession and overrun off the ball.

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