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Painful WC exit

Rashneel Kumar
Tuesday, July 01, 2014

FOOTBALL can sometimes be so cruel that one may get frustrated thinking why they call it a beautiful game.

First the Chileans had to lose the horrendous way to Brazil in the penalty kicks and yesterday it was the Mexicans. Netherlands which eased through the group stage competition were made to work hard against Mexico in the 2-1 win.

Horrible to be 1-0 up in the 88th minute and then lose. Brutal for Mexico as their drought in the World Cup continues.

This is the sixth consecutive time they bombed out of the World Cup at this stage. Really heartbreaking.

For the Dutch supporters, what a relief! They remain in the hunt for the maiden World Cup title.

Wesley Sneijder equalised in the 88th minute with a bullet-like strike and then Klaas Jan Huntelaar scored the winner from the spot-kick in the added time after Arjen Robben was fouled in the penalty area.

When Holland thrashed defending champions Spain 5-1 in its opening group match, they sent a strong message that the long winless drought will finally end this year.

Instead of building on to their terrific start, they seem to have been faltering away and almost out of the World Cup if not for that miraculous comeback.

It will be interesting to see what strategy coach Louis van Gaal deploys against Costa Rica in the quarters.

The darling of this World Cup, Costa Rica defeated Greece 5-3 in penalty shootout in the other top 16 match.

Costa Rica and Greece were locked at 1-1 after extra time play.

Today, France will play Nigeria while Germany takes on Algeria.

On paper France and Germany are much better sides but the Africans are capable of creating upsets.

Off the field, if you are one of the diehard football fans waking up early in the morning to watch the games live on TV then you are part of history.

According to FIFA, the group stages of the 2014 FIFA World Cup reached record numbers of viewers across the world, with a breakthrough performance in the United States and more impressive progress in Europe, Asia and the rest of the Americas.

All eight World Cup groups set viewing highs for at least one territory, underlining the breadth of football's popularity across the world.

The blockbuster figures support FIFA's expectation of an increase in the global TV audience compared with the 3.2 billion reach of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Some of the key figures from the Group Stages in Brazil include:

USA: Portugal game was most watched football match ever on US TV, higher than any of NBA Finals and higher than average of 2013 World Series 2013 (ESPN, UNIVISION: 24.7 million combined)

Brazil: Croatia match drew highest 2014 TV sports broadcast (TV Globo, Bandeirantes: 47.4 million combined)

France: Switzerland game reached largest TV audience since 2007 (TF1: 16.7 million)

Netherlands: Chile match reached biggest TV audience since 2010 FIFA World Cup Final (Ned 1: 8.1 million)

Germany: USA match attracted biggest TV audience in 2 years (ZDF: 27.3 million)

Italy: Uruguay game watched by biggest TV audience in 2 years (RAI 1, Sky Mondiale, RAI Sport: 19.3 million combined)

UK: Uruguay game drew biggest TV audience in 2 years (ITV: 17.9 million)

Spain: Chile match attracted biggest TV audience for 2 years (Telecinco: 13.2 million)

Japan: Ivory Coast game was biggest sports broadcast of 2014 (NHK: 34.1 million).