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Battle for top spot

Rashneeel Kumatr
Sunday, June 22, 2014

THIS is truly a World Cup of unexpected.

It started with defending champions Spain's bashing at the hands of Netherlands and then its expected and humiliating exit.

As the battle for the top 16 spots in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil intensifies, more surprises are expected.

Yesterday, Costa Rica stunned the football fraternity after it defeated Italy 1-0 putting the four-time World Cup winner's chances in jeopardy.

In doing so, Costa Rica, with two wins so far and only undefeated team in the "pool of death" Group D has booted England out of the World Cup. Uruguay and Italy's decider will be a cracker!

It was coming for the Roy Hodgson men. Sooner or later, they would have to swallow the bitter pill. It must be quite frustrating for the English fans considering England looked better in this World Cup but lacked badly in finishing and defending.

Such a talented squad but poor co-ordination as a team they just can't click. So typical.

Costa Rica, which many thought would be the first team out of the tournament, is one of the success stories in this World Cup.

With over 4million in population, the Central American country with no big names in the team is poised for its best ever finish in the World Cup. Costa Rica's best finish was the top 16 in 1990.

Other teams that have booked their place in the top 16 are France, Netherlands and Colombia.

Off the field, here are 14 interesting facts on the 2014 FIFA World Cup from UK tabloid Mirror.

1. Saed Kolasinac's 3rd minute own goal was the quickest own goal in World Cup finals history

2. Robin Van Persie is the first Dutchman to score in five consecutive major international tournaments

3. It took 151 minutes for a NON-Brazilian to score at this year's World Cup

4. There were as many disallowed goals as there were allowed goals in the first round of matches in Group A

5. Iran's goalless draw against Nigeria was their first clean sheet in a World Cup, it is their fourth World Cup finals

6. Clint Dempsey's 34-second goal was the fifth fastest World Cup finals goal but is 24 seconds behind Hakan Sukur's effort in 2002

7. There have been 11 animal oracles predicting the results of the World Cup. Shaheen the Emirati camel has the best strike rate after predicting the correct results in the Italy-England and Spain-Netherlands games

8. There have been an average of 3.41 goals scored in the first 14 games of this year's World Cup. That is the highest number of goals per game since Sweden, 1958

9. "There is only one Luis Suarez!" Well no, not at the World Cup anyway. There's the Liverpool and Uruguay centre-forward and also the Honduras manager

10. Thomas Muller has scored eight goals in seven World Cup appearances and they've all come from only nine shots on target

11. United States striker Chris Wondolowski plays with a jersey that has his name spelt wrong on the back after he scored a hat-trick against Belize with his name spelt WONDOWLOWSKI on his shirt

12. Iran's squad is the cheapest assembled squad at the World Cup. Carlos Queiroz's side are only worth a combined total of £3.6million at club level

13. Rafael Marquez became the first captain to lead his country out in four separate World Cup finals

14. The Arena Amazonia in Manaus is the closest ever World Cup venue to the equator - only 214 miles between them








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