Despite upsets, Football fever grips the world

The FIFA World Cup 2014 has thus far produced excellent football.

The world’s best 32 football playing nations have top-lined their finest players.

The World Cup hosting one of the most watched events on Television and the matches have produced upsets and thrills.

At press time, there were 16 teams in the fray.

The Hosts

The hosts and five-time champions Brazil have looked far from their best, but have passed through the first round unscathed.

They beat Croatia and Cameroon and drew with Mexico.

Brazilian hopes rest firmly on forward Neymar. He is truly the biggest Brazilian football star at this year’s Cup.

Neymar now has 35 goals from 52 caps. Incidentally, he scored this World Cup’s 100th goal in the host’s 100th World Cup match.

Bravo, Bravo!

Brazil has a tough pre-quarterfinal match against Claudio Bravo-led Chile, who beat the defending champions Spain to advance in the Cup.

Bravo has led from the front by being an excellent goalkeeper for his young side.

Spain had a forgetful event. An ageing squad and absence of goalkeeper Victor Valdes hurt them badly. This failed campaign might see the end of the careers of players like Casillas, Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso.

Argentina supporters

Argentina, helped by the brilliance of star forward Lionel Messi has so far come good on the tag of being pre-tournament favourites.

Thousands of Argentinian fans are filling up stadiums across Brazil, giving their team massive support. They face Switzerland in the next round.

The player to watch will be Swiss and Bayern Munich midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored all three gaols in his team’s 3-0 win over Honduras.

England again let their fans down by a disappointing show at the World Cup. Losses to Italy and Uruguay meant England crashed out in the first round itself.

Belgium, the dark horse for many at the Cup, has had a good run to the last 16.

Eden Hazrad, an attacking midfielder who also plays for Chelsea in the Premier League, has emerged as a key player for the team.

Huge upsets

Though the New Zealand football team did not qualify for the World Cup, Kiwi referee Peter O’Leary made international news.

Bosnian fans wanted FIFA to sack the official after an image of him that appeared to show him celebrating with Nigeria’s goalkeeper after a match between the two countries he officiated went viral.

O’Leary and FIFA to decide Kiwi referee’s World Cup fateNew Zealand Football have vehemently denied the charges.

Our neighbours Australia also crashed out after the first round, losing all their matches.

None of the Asian sides in the tournament- whether it be Iran or Japan could make it to the final 16.

Bad behaviour

Uruguayan forward Luis Suárez gained notoriety when he was suspended by FIFA from any football-related activity for four months and barred from playing in Uruguay’s next nine competitive games effectively ending his role at this World Cup.

The incident, which triggered this response, was Suarez sinking his teeth into an opposition player, after he tangled with Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Twenty-seven-year-old Suarez has a history of bad behaviour on the field, and has twice before been found guilty of biting opponents.

One of the most widely watched sporting spectacles on the planet, the World Cup has to set a strong precedent to ensure such acts are not repeated.

Brazil is proving to be an excellent host nation. All pre-tournament jitters about its readiness to host this mega event have been laid to rest.

Tourism boost

The new stadiums have been good and mostly packed. Accommodation and transport sectors have catered well to the anticipated half a million tourists, who have descended in Brazil for the global event. The country is using the event to boost its profile as a serious player on the world economic stage, and a tourists’ paradise.

This Cup has been exciting as it has been a high goal-scoring affair. As the event heads towards its end, the excitement will increase.

The teams look evenly matched and it is difficult to predict a winner.

World Cup 2014 promised a soccer treat to its millions of followers, and it is proving to be a memorable event.

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