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The great escape

Rashneel Kumar
Monday, June 30, 2014

THE Brazilian fans had their hearts in their mouth as the 2014 FIFA World Cup host made a great escape in the top 16 opener against Chile early yesterday.

What a shocker it would have been if the Chileans had been on target in the deciding penalty kicks.

Brazil eventually won 3-2, thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Julio Cesar, after being held 1-1 by Chile at fulltime.

For Brazil, it was a dramatic way to win but for the impressive Chile, it was a horrendous way to lose. So close yet so far.

When Alexi Sanchez equalised for Chile in the 32nd minute, I decided to check on my mates who are backing Brazil to win this World Cup.

One rejected my call and the other left it unanswered. The one who rejected my call returned a message after the game "Stop calling me *! Imagine if Brazil lost! Too bad they didn't! Try your luck in the quarters!" That explained a lot.

The pressure is on and the top guns are the ones feeling it the most!

In the other top 16 match, Colombia midfielder James Rodríguez scored twice to beat Uruguay 2-0.

The 22-year-old Rodriguez, who leads the Golden Boot race on five goals and two assists, is in sensational form and has already started attracting attention of big clubs including Real Madrid.

Uruguay without Luis Suarez was just crippled in attack and although it created more opportunities than the Colombians, the side lacked the finishing touch of Suarez to get the goals.

Off the field, here's the breakdown of the teams from the different continents in the World Cup knockout phase from latinpost.com.

Europe — Teams sent: 13 — Teams advanced: 6

Europe had by far the most teams when the World Cup began with 13. High expectations came as usual with Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany leading the way. Italy and Spain were the two biggest disappointments of the World Cup, according to most, because of their history and expectations

South America — Teams sent: 6 — Teams advanced: 5

Many South American nations have high hopes because of this year's location, Brazil. South America sent less than half the number of teams to the World Cup as Europe but still have almost the same number competing. The only South American nation that failed to qualify for the knockout round was Ecuador. The five national teams who advanced to the round of 16 include Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina and Colombia.

North America — Teams sent: 4 — Teams advanced: 3

Could this finally be the year a North American country wins the World Cup? Mexico was very impressive in a tough Group A, and Team USA advanced as well. The only North American country that failed to advance was Honduras. Mexico, the United States and Costa Rica will all be playing in the round of 16. Costa Rica has been the most underrated team in this year's World Cup.

Africa — Teams sent: 5 — Teams advanced: 2

It was a wild ride for most of the African nations. There was a high possibility that just one or as many as four could have made the round of 16. Both Nigeria and Algeria will be representing Africa in this year's World Cup playoff round. This will be Algeria's first time in the knockout round stage, so fans get to witness that for the very first time.

Oceania — Teams sent: 1 — Teams advanced: 0

Australia was the only team to make the World Cup from Oceania, but unfortunately for them they finished 0-3 in Group B. The only time Australia has qualified for the knockout round was in 2006.

Asia — Teams sent: 3 — Teams advanced: 0

Asia had, by far, the most disappointing World Cup for their fans of any continent. Three Asian national teams qualified for the World Cup, but all failed to advance to the round of 16. Not only did all three Asian teams fail to make the round of 16, but Iran, South Korea and Japan also combined for zero wins.





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