Now that the NHL and NBA have crowned their champions and Team USA’s surprising victory over Ghana, the North American viewership of the 2014 FIFA World Cup is about to see a huge increase. But the North American audience is not the only thing heating up in Brazil. We’re just a week into the World Cup, and here have already been numerous shockers, upsets and controversy. Here are just a few of week 1 headlines.
Never say Netherlands
One of the biggest upsets so far in the tournament is the 5-1 thrashing by the feet of the Dutch over the reigning World Champions Spain. In what should have been a commanding performance by the Spaniards turned into a massive humiliation. While many pass blame on Spain’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas, maybe the truth lies within an aging squad and coach living in the past. But let’s not discount the strength and determination by the Netherlands. Strikers Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben scored twice, while defender Stefan de Vrij scored his first international goal. If they keep up this pace and resolve, they may be handing out a lot of upsets in Brazil. Good to know: Dutch coach Louis van Gaal allowed his players time with their wives and girlfriends before the match. Perhaps tension release is the key to success!
Just when you thought Switzerland and Ecuador would settle for a 1-1 tie, the Swiss marched down the field and scored the winning goal with just under a minute left to play in stoppage. The dramatic win came as a result of poor and slow execution by the Ecuador. Mere seconds before Haris Seferovic scored, Ecuador’s Michael Arroyo looked to be setting up to shoot. However Arroyo appeared to be playing in slow motion and could not get the kick away. As a result, he was the victim of a brilliant tackle by Valon Behrami who assumed possession and flew down the field to set up the now infamous goal. Let’s hope Ecuador has learned a valuable lesson in knowing timing is everything. Good to know: The victory was Switzerland’s first against a South American opposition in the World Cup.
France was met on the pitch by an extremely physical Honduras squad. At first glance, one would think the French would be dominated on the field by brute force of Honduras. But that was definitely not the case as physical play was outwitted by mental awareness. As a result, the French walked away with a 3-nil victory over the Central Americans. This match was also the first time the new and controversial automated goal line technology was used during this tournament to determine whether the ball had crossed the line or not. In this instance it was used to judge whether or not France’s Karim Benzema goal attempt crossed the goal line. In the initial result displayed in the stadium was ‘no goal’, however a second review displayed ‘goal’. Without a doubt the result(s) sparked widespread confusion on anger amongst Honduras’s coach, players and fans. Yet despite the controversy, the fact remains Honduras was simply outplayed and was unable to score against the French. Could you imagine the outrage if the French won by a one goal margin! Good to know: FIFA have said they will review their goal-line technology system after its first use in the history of the World Cup
In what should have been a gimmie for the talented Portuguese squad, turned out to be an intense German invasion. Thomas Mueller singlehandedly attached Portugal by scoring a hat-trick, while defender Mats Hummels helped to secure the 4-nil victory for Germany. While many are pointing their fingers to refs on the field for the massive defeat, the reality is Portugal allowed 4 goals. There is a difference between being confident and cocky and Portugal proved to be the latter. Before the match Cristiano Ronaldo was asked if he was ready for the game versus Germany. His response…"I don’t think I have to show anyone anything... Look at my statistics and my CV – I have nothing to prove." Well evidentially he does have a lot to prove and so does the rest of the Portuguese squad, even more so now with injuries to key players. The huge loss should be a humbling experience for Portugal. They are definitely a solid team that will need to regroup, refocus and stop completely underestimating their opponents. Good to know: Portuguese media report Fabio Coentrao is out for a minimum of ten days with a leg injury, while Hugo Almeida is also rated doubtful for Portugal's next clash against the USA on 22 June.
Just think all this happened in the first week of play, can you imagine what’s coming next? Once again for all your FIFA World Cup scores, news and highlights, be sure to check out the official site at http://www.fifa.com/worldcup