Here’s a look at five things to watch out for as Group A and B come to a climactic finish in the World Cup.
With the World Cup entering the last round of its group stage fixtures, 23rd June is sure to provide football fans with plenty of exciting football. Both Group A and B will play their deciding fixtures simultaneously and here are five things to look forward to in today’s matches.
Where Is The Samba Magic?
All eyes will be on Brazil as they take on minnows Cameroon in what will prove to be a deciding fixture for the Selecao. In order to comfortably qualify to the next round, Brazil will have to make sure they beat Cameroon in their last group stage fixture. Though the hosts might even go through even if they lose, they will rather not count on Mexico going past Croatia to make it to the Round of 16. Also, Brazil will be hoping to comfortably ease past Cameroon in order to top their group and hence eventually face the loser between Netherlands and Chile.
Brazil will also be expected to put forward a convincing performance before making it to the knock-out stages of the tournament. Doubts have been raised over the ‘favourites’ after their unconvincing performances in the opening two fixtures of the World Cup. While Neymar is living up to the billing, Scolari will be concerned over the unavailability of a lethal striker in the team, something that might cost them in the latter stages of the tournament. Also, Neymar and Oscar look isolated and unaided while on the attack and the Brazilians have failed to cast their spell in the tournament so far. Which means that football fans all over the world will be praying for some ‘samba magic’ in what is going to be an extremely important match for the Selecao.
Netherlands vs Chile : The Fight For Supremacy
Kicking off the first game of the evening, Netherlands and Chile come head to head in a battle for supremacy as both teams look to finish on top of their group. Both the teams have shown themselves to be in fine form and are guaranteed qualification. But it will be unwise to expect any of the teams to take things easy as both countries will be looking to avoid Brazil if the hosts do indeed top their group later in the evening.
Netherlands started off their World Cup campaign by grabbing the headlines as they thrashed the Spanish team 5-1 and then went on to win against Australia in what turned out to be a pulsating encounter. Chile too started off their campaign positively and beat Australia 3-1 before thrashing Spain 2-0 to qualify to the Round of 16.
This encounter promises to be an interesting game of football as both teams play fast, exciting football. Though Robin Van Persie will miss the match due to suspension, the likes of Arjen Robben, Arturo Vidal and Sanchez are sure to light up Sao Paulo. Expect lots of goals as both the teams have scored a total of 13 goals in their opening two fixtures.
Mexico vs Croatia: A Must-Win Finale
With Group A and B playing their final matches today, the game between Mexico and Croatia is the most important one as both teams head into the game knowing that they will have to beat the other to make it to the Round of 16. The other 3 games lined up for tonight hence pale in comparison to this one as Mexico face Croatia to decide the fate of Group A.
Mexico were saved by the heroic efforts of Ochoa who single-handedly kept a clean sheet against Brazil and hence gave his team a single point advantage over Croatia. However both teams know that they will have to win the match if they are to make it past the gropu stages of the World Cup 2014. Croatia will be banking on the likes of Luka Modric, Mandzukic and Rakitic to lead their team. While Mexico will be counting on Dos Santos and Ochoa to inspire the team into the knock-out stages of the tournament.
With everything to play for, expect lots of fireworks at the Arena Pernambuco, Recife, as the two teams go head to head.
Spain, Australia And Cameroon: The End Of The Road
The last game of the group stages also draws the curtains on three teams who are already past qualification after losing their opening two games. Spain lost spectacularly to Netherlands and then succumbed to a well-organised Chilean team and will face Australia in a battle of pride.
Having dominated the game for more than half a decade, Spain will face Australia and will be hoping to win the game in order to avoid coming last in the Group B. Australia too will be looking for a strong performance and will be kicking themselves for allowing the game to slip away from them after leading 2-1 against Netherlands earlier in the week.
Cameroon too lost both their opening fixtures but will be playing an important role in their last match as they face hosts Brazil. Cameroon were embarrassed in their previous fixture with Alex Song getting sent off and his team-mates involved in a personal embroil. Hence Samuel Eto’o and co might be motivated to put forward one good performance and make things difficult for the hosts as they play a must-win fixture.
The End Of Tiki Taka as Spain Witnesses A Change Of Guard
World Cup 2010-Winners
World Cup 2014- Knocked Out In Group stages
The Spanish national team dominated the world of football for a glorious period of time after finally succumbing their throne as they crash out of the World Cup after losing their opening two fixtures. While much has been said about tiki-taka and how Spain failed this World Cup, their last fixture against Australia will perhaps be the last glimpse of a generation of World Champions who will be keen to move out with a last roar.
This is the last World Cup for the likes of Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta, David Villa, Fernando Torres and perhaps Iker Casillas too. This golden generation went on to dominate the sport for a glorious half decade and football fans will probably be watching these players for the last time in a World Cup. While the future is uncertain for the national team, there are chances that Tiki-Taka might give way for a refreshing style of football and therefore be sure to watch Spain’s game against Australia to witness ‘Tike-Taka’ for the last time in the years to come.
It will also be interesting to see what Del Bosque does with his starting eleven with qualification out of sight. The likes of Xabi Alonso, Xavi, David Villa and Iniesta are expected to get a starting spot. Mata, Koke and Cazorla are also expected to be given a chance as La Roja face their final game this World Cup.
This week promises to kick off the most interesting games of the World Cup as teams line up for a final shot at qualification. With everything to play for, none of these matches can be missed as the 2014 World Cup enters its climactic stages.