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Biting off more than we could chew

Biting off more than we could chew
We got down to the business end of the group stage in the past week and it was just as eventful as the opening round of games. There were loads more goals and talking points, teams secured safe passage into the knockout rounds, some bigger teams fell at the first hurdle, the big stars continued to deliver and Luis Suarez bit someone. For the THIRD time in his career!

The moment he appeared to plunge his teeth into Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini the image of the World Cup was set. Despite all the goals and amazing moments it’ll forever be known for the time Luis Suarez bit someone again.

Aside from that – the football’s been great. England and Italy joined Spain as big European teams to book an early flight home, while Costa Rica eased into the last sixteen. Greece somehow stole qualification from Ivory Coast while the likes of Colombia, Chile and France have been fantastic and we’ll be seeing them in the later stages.

Meanwhile, the big stars continue to deliver big performances. Lionel Messi has quadrupled his World Cup tally this summer with four goals. Neymar has been sensational, as have Arjen Robben, Alexis Sanchez, James Rodriguez and countless more of the world’s elite.

Player of the Week

Colombia’s James Rodriguez has been in scintillating form and scored two goals this week, including a goal of the week contender. He was excellent in Colombia’s qualification-securing match against Ivory Coast last Thursday, scoring the winner in a 2-1 result.

The Monaco man was a half-time substitute in their game against Japan on Tuesday and completely made the difference, taking a 1- 1 game which Japan were dominating and turning it into an easy 4-1 win – which he topped off with a beautiful chip over the goalkeeper in stoppage time. This week he’s made himself a player of the tournament contender alongside the likes of Neymar and Arjen Robben.

Team of the Week

The strongest defensive performances are coming from the most unlikely sources. Iran put a stop to Lionel Messi and Argentina for 90 minutes, while Costa Rica had two clean sheets – against Italy and England! There was no shortage of excellent attacking performances this week. Xherdan Shaqiri scored a hat-trick for Switzerland, Luis Suarez – despite the bite – beat England single-handedly and Lionel Messi has his shooting boots on.

Dominguez (ECU); Gonzalez (CRC), Halliche (ALG), Sadhegi (IRA); Robben (NED), James (COL), Jones (USA), Shaqiri (SUI); Suarez (URU), Benzema (FRA), Messi (ARG)

Goal of the Week

Since we gave the coveted player of the week accolade to James Rodriguez, this week’s goal of the week goes to Xherdan Shaqiri for his stunning left- footed strike into the top corner against Honduras which was to be his first of three in the game.

Honourable mentions go to Lionel Messi for his late winner against Iran and also for his free- kick against Nigeria and USA’s Jermaine Jones for his great hit against Portugal.

Moment of the Week

Colombia were 3-1 up and coasting into the last sixteen of the World Cup against Japan on Tuesday night, so decided to bring on goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon for the final ten minutes and break the record for the oldest player to play at a World Cup.

The record has stood for over 20 years when Roger Milla played for Cameroon in the 1994 World Cup. At 42, Milla also became the oldest player to ever score a World Cup goal. It was great moment to see 43 year old Mondragon come on and break the record.

Dark Horse Watch

France continues to look a scary prospect for the later knockout rounds and after a 5-2 demolition against Switzerland will face Nigeria in the last sixteen. They looked much less prolific in the 0-0 draw against Ecuador, but they did rest a number of players in that game.

Everybody’s favourite dark horse Belgium is going about their business quietly. They confirmed passage through to the next round with a 1-0 victory over Russia, a game that looked a stalemate until Liverpool target Divock Origi popped up with a winner in the 88th minute.

South American contenders Chile and Colombia are safely into the knockout stage, setting up all- continental ties against Brazil and Uruguay, where the winner of each will face-off in the quarter finals.

Costa Rica have emerged as a surprise dark horse. Victories over Uruguay and Italy saw them through, while a draw with England gave them a favourable draw with Greece in the next round.

Good week for…

1. South America – as it stand five out of the six South American teams competing in the competition are through to the last sixteen, with only Ecuador letting the side down. The CONCACAF will also be delighted with their return – Costa Rica and Mexico qualify, while USA have a great chance of joining them on Thursday night.

2. Costa Rica – what a week for them! A huge win over Italy meant they qualified with a game to spare. Then a 0-0 draw against England saw them top the group and set them up with a tie against Greece in the last sixteen, a match they’ll be favourites for.

3. Xherdan Shaqiri – he stepped up for Switzerland against Honduras and bagged three goals in the 3-0 win – cue linking him to every club in England.

Bad week for…

1. Luis Suarez - what was he thinking? We wait to hear the length of his ban, but he’ll undoubtedly miss the rest of the tournament.

Article By:

Kevin Coleman: www.back

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