I bet no one predicted that!
When Italy, Uruguay and England came out of the pots everyone dubbed Group D the group of death. I disagreed, leaning toward the more evenly-matched group of Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the USA. But Costa Rica, my word: six points from two games against two teams in the top ten of the FIFA rankings! And no one gave them a shot. They were to be the group’s whipping boys, important only in how many goals the other teams put past them, and now they’re on the verge of topping the group and playing the runner-up in Group C for a place in the quarter-finals. Talk of winnable and impossible games has no bearing on Costa Rica, but whoever they meet won’t be as strong as Italy or Uruguay. In group C, the Ivory Coast was unfortunate to lose their game against Colombia, giving the Colombia’s first place, but if Costa Rica’s luck continues then Greece will triumph over the Ivory Coast and set up a meeting between Costa Rica and Greece in the round of sixteen. No one can deny that Greece have looked awful. But, surely, the Costa Ricans cannot make it farther…
CONCACAF teams in general have performed admirably. Mexico is on four points after beating Cameroon and holding Brazil to 0-0, although a competitive fixture against Croatia looms, and the USA went ahead twice to edge Ghana 2-1. There are still many twists to come I’m sure, but could World Cup 2014 be one with three teams from CONCACAF making it out of the group stage at the expense of more-lauded Europeans Croatia, Portugal and Italy?
We shall see.