THERE were gloomy predictions about the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Many predicted it will fail to live up to expectations but at the halfway point, this World Cup is proving nothing but the best!
The top 16 knockout competition began this morning with Brazil playing Chile followed by Uruguay versus Colombia match.
If the group stage statistics is anything to go by, there is plenty of scintillating football left in the knockout phase. The true beauty of this 'beautiful game' will shine now.
Today, we look at the numbers and its importance in this World Cup.
In a nutshell, 136 goals were scored in the 48 group matches. That is an average of 2.8 goals per match which in the 2010 World Cup stood at 2.3.
Lionel Messi (Argentina), Neymar (Brazil) and Thomas Muller (Germany) have scored the highest number of goals on four goals each while Netherlands tops the most goals scored by a team on 10.
In discipline, 128 yellow cards while nine red cards have been flashed so far. In average, 2.7 yellow cards and 0.2 red cards. In 2010, 3.8 yellow cards and 0.3 red cards.
Honduras and Ivory Coast collected the highest number of yellow cards on seven while Belgium, Cameroon, Croatia, Ecuador, Greece, Honduras, Italy, Portugal and Uruguay have a red card each.
The average passes per team this year is 384 and in 2010 World Cup, it was 353.
So basically, the standard of football is a step up from the 2010 World Cup and the 2014 World Cup is probably building into one of the finest tournaments ever.
On the lighter note, here are some weirdest facts about this World Cup from time.com.
Island nations like our neighbours Solomon Islands are showing great interest in the event. It's no wonder they are better ranked than us.
1. The Solomon Islands has the world's highest Google search volume index for "World Cup."
Yes, this tiny archipelago northeast of Australia — its team isn't even in World Cup this year — is Googling "World Cup" like crazy. Next are Vanuatu, Liberia, South Sudan and Sierra Leone.
2. Meanwhile, a small Oregon town called Sheridan boasts the highest search volume index in the U.S. This tiny city with a population of roughly 7,000 is beating out giants like New York, Los Angeles and Miami.
3. Americans were the least excited about the event, and Indonesians were the most.
In the days leading up to the World Cup, the US — placed last in a global survey about levels of excitement surrounding the tournament. Only 11 per cent of Americans were very excited, while Indonesians posted the highest excitement rate.
4. Fast food and beer are dominating World Cup ads for Hispanic viewers.
For the World Cup's second week, the top advertisers on Univision—a Spanish-language TV network — have been McDonalds and Budweiser. Meanwhile, Microsoft and Bacardi are dominating ads on ABC/ESPN, which are English-language.
5. On average, Kim Kardashian is way more popular than Cristiano Ronaldo — and she's as popular as the World Cup itself.
According to worldwide Google data since 2004, interest in Kim has been nearly as high as Cristiano during the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. While Cristiano's and the World Cup's popularities spike every few years, Kim rules the internet during off-season. And believe it or not, the Internet's average interest in Kim is as high as that of the World Cup.