With Spain’s Ouster, We are Guaranteed a New Champ
We have now gone through seven days of the 2014 World Cup, and all the groups have played at least once. For Groups A and B, they have played twice now. Two teams have now clinched spots into the Round of 16, while three teams have officially been eliminated from the tournament with one game left to play.
In Group A, no one has clinched a spot into the knockout stage just yet. After playing to an exhilirating 0-0 tie, Brazil and Mexico remain atop the group standings with four points apiece-- Brazil leads the group with a plus two goal differential. Croatia follows with three points after defeating Cameroon 4-0. After losing a second time, Cameroon is the only team in the group with no chance to advance. Brazil and Mexico can both advance by either winning or tying their final matches in group play. Croatia must win in order to advance-- they can get in with a tie only if Brazil loses and Croatia scores more goals. Brazil takes on already eliminated Cameroon. Mexico and Croatia face off for possibly the second spot into the round of 16. To this point Croatia has scored five goals to Brazil's three. If Cameroon somehow beats Brazil and Croatia ties Mexico, then Mexico wins the group and Croatia advances-- leaving Brazil out with Cameroon. If Brazil wins or ties Cameroon, Croatia must win to advance. All Mexico has to do is tie Croatia and they are in. If Mexico wins, they can win the group-- Brazil would have to either tie or Mexico beats Brazil in any of the tiebreakers.
In Group B, the two teams going to the next round have already been decided. After getting blown out by the Netherlands 5-1, Spain laid a big fat egg and got shutout by Chile 2-0. In turn, Spain was eliminated from the World Cup; which guarantees that we will have a new world champion. Even though Australia was also eliminated, they still stand ranked higher than Spain thanks to a better goal differential-- Australia is at -3, Spain is at -6. Spain and Australia will play against each in a meaningless third game-- other than pride and not wanting to be ranked 32nd out 32 teams in the tournament. Holland and Chile will face off for supremacy in Group B. Though both teams have already advanced, winning the group means most likely facing either Mexico or Croatia in the next round and avoiding Brazil. As it stands right now, the Dutch lead the group with a +5 goal differential, but Chile is right behind them with a +4.
Since there were no ties until the fifth day of action in the World Cup and there have been only three ties to this point in the tournament, we could see several more teams clinched their spot in the next round this week. If that happens, we might witness a plethora of third matches with little on the line-- other than pride or overall positioning. One thing we can say, this has been an entertaining World Cup so far, and we have witnessed some surprises most of us didn't expect to see.