The first thought that comes to mind is that the favorites have not earned their wins and in some cases have deserved their losses in this tournament so far. The second thought is that the surprise results and come from behind wins have changed the landscape of the cup for the remainder of the tournament. Finally, we continue to have players dropping like flies as USA's Jozy Altidore, Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o, and Spain's David de Gea, were ruled out.
Brazil was favored by two questionable officiating calls on two of their three goals. Argentina needed an own goal and a moment of Lionel Messi magic to edge out a strong Bosnian challenge. Germany had a questionable penalty called in their favor and had a similarly questionable one not called against them, with the added touch that it would have had to be accompanied by a Red Card.
The German press said, via the Frankfurter Allgemeine: “Germany 4, Portugal 0--perfectly played.” The front page article went on to say: “What the coach had planned, came to pass. The players were tireless and ran circles around the Portuguese.” Bild’s front page had a photo of Muller, celebrating his hat trick with a clenched-fist yell and next to him was a picture of a frustrated and grimacing Cristiano Ronaldo.
Spain self-destructed before a better playing Holland which nevertheless was gifted four of their five goals by an imploding opponent. Italy played up to its potential early this time, and England well above their previous play, but it took all each had for a winner to emerge and neither team is at the level of the preceding ones mentioned. Chile won but they almost forgot to press their advantage.
Uruguay were well beaten but Costa Rica will not have another such opponent. Ecuador lost what they had, twice. Ivory Coast was two teams on the pitch, one with and one without Didier Drogba. Perhaps only Colombia seemed to play up to its potential despite missing Radamel Falcao. Iran and Nigeria played a lackluster but tough game to a deserved 0-0 draw.
The third big surprise of the cup so far, after Spain’s immolation and Costa Rica’s consecration, was the USA’s intensity and achievement against Ghana. The African team was the better one on the pitch, but the Americans simply would not be denied and their will won out.
The British press, via the BBC noted that John Brooks, the winning goal scorer for the USA “was born in Germany to an American serviceman and a German mother.” Right after the match their play by play on their website reported: “USA fans are delirious. The Stars and Stripes have their first points of the World Cup and Brooks is the hero.”
The USA press, via USA Today trumpeted “U.S. stuns Ghana on Brooks’ late winning goal.” The Wall Street Journal dedicated a front page piece on its website under its WorldCup2014 banner with the headline “The Americans Strike Early, and Late to Beat Ghana.” The article said that the Americans “…clawed their way to a 2-1 win.”
Tomorrow we have Belgium’s debut against Algeria, Brazil playing a very in form Mexico, and the opening match for both Russia and Korea Republic.