World Cup hosts Brazil have emerged top of their group followed by Mexico. As the dust settles after the on-pitch action, and we brace ourselves for more Herrera hype, our forensic blogger James Clark lists the Top Five things we learned from Group A.
CaMEROONed on zero points
Sadly Cameroon was one of the real underachievers of the World Cup group stage. Always a team promising much in qualifying, inconsistency and team disunity has derailed their World Cup campaigns. That said, the team have one of the finest ‘hipster’ kits going around and together with displaying an immense panache with a brazuca, possession of a ripping Adonis like physique is mandatory to pull off the desired look.
A Mexican wave of support
The El Tri have always been a favourite team of many in world football. Not only can Mexico produce on the pitch, they arguably have the most colorful and passionate fans going around. Oh and don’t forget their enigmatic coach Miguel Herrera.
As much as the TV audience loves tuning in for extraordinary displays of football craftsmanship, it is the flashes of brilliance by managers that garners our interest.
From Spain’s poker faced Vicente del Bosque to the fans ‘pick’ Joachim Low from Germany, Brazil has now brought us another coach to warm to! Herrera will be remembered as one who wears his heart on his sleeve and doesn’t let the intense pressure of coaching get in the way of a good time. I say a big ‘sombreros off’ to Miguel! Fine job sir. You have made it to the knockout stage.
Sadly the Croatians just couldn’t get the job done at this World Cup. After a promising start in match one against a sluggish Brazil, the Neymar and Oscar show entered the stage to ultimately steer Croatia’s Cup ship off course.
Star striker Mario Mandzukic stood up against Cameroon with a handy brace but when it came to the crunch in the game that mattered most, the Croatians fell short of the mark.
Luka Modric in what is his final World Cup tilt could not fire the midfield to wrestle the ball away from a gallant Mexico who deserved their shot at the Netherlands. Croatia’s future now looks to re-establishing the team’s foundations through some great young talent on their roster.
Brazil not ‘waxing lyrical’ just yet
Brazil have proven you don’t need to play at your best early in the tournament. With an advantage of what many perceived as a favorable group, the Seleçäo have got the job done. With the extra burden of expectation on their shoulders, the new messiah Neymar suddenly warranted dropping the apt ‘Jnr’ from his title. Once the dust settled on his much-publicised move to Barcelona, Neymar has so far delivered and will be a vital cog in the machine to help deliver the Cup to the people of Brazil. But the long journey to football immortality still has many chapters to be written.
What lies ahead for the top two?
To the victor go the spoils. Brazil finished top of the group courtesy of a superior goal differential to Mexico. They will now do battle against another South American nation in Chile who finished second to the Netherlands in a group that boasted reigning World and European Champions Spain.
Chile will rate their chances of dishing up an upset and their passionate fans will ensure the atmosphere at the Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte will be loud and very proud. The bright yellow of Brazil contrasted with the red, white and blue of Chile ensures a match of great colour on an off the pitch.
Mexico await their round of 16 opponents with Columbia looking the most likely candidate barring an upset to Japan or a massive win by the Ivory Coast over a lacklustre Greek outfit in Group C.