Brazil: The Brasileiro, your average Joao, doesn’t believe in delving in the past. And the dailies he reads, such as the Jornal de Brasilia, mirrors his mindset – having already sent the Selecao into July’s final through two distinct routes in the knock-outs. “The easiest path is Chile, Colombia, Nigeria and Greece,” says the paper. And the toughest? “Chile, Uruguay, France, Argentina —that’s the worst.” Worst for Brazil maybe, but best for this World Cup of course.
Mexico: Just twice in the past have Mexico proceeded to the quarterfinals of a World Cup – 1970 and 1986. Standing in their way from getting there for the first time when not hosting a World Cup is Holland. Not the easiest thing, but Miguel Herrera’s side have excelled in overcoming equally potent obstacles so far, such as the allergic-to-goals referee from their opening match.
Croatia: The opening goal of the World Cup summed up their campaign perfectly. Croatia needed all the help in the world, sometimes even from members of the opposition.
Cameroon: With a goal difference of -8, Cameroon could just be the worst team to participate at a World Cup, ever. Have now lost seven Cup matches in a row.
Holland: Incredibly, each of Holland’s 10 goals so far, the most by any team yet, have all been produced from open play. Six of those were netted by Arjen Robben (3) and captain Robin van Persie (3). But they will be aware that their Round of 16 opponents, Mexico, were just 180 seconds away from not conceding at all in the group stages..
Chile: The team with the most fun supporters who often burst into a most fun chant (‘Chi-chi-chi, Le-le-le, Viva Chile!’) struggled against Australia and lost to Holland. But by knocking out holders Spain from the Cup with a 2-0 win at the Maracana, the South American side reiterated just why a South American team can never be taken lightly in a South American World Cup
Spain: Have you wondered why there has been absolutely no hype around animal oracles in this World Cup? Here’s the answer. Like Paul the Octopus, they began by predicting a Spain win. Unlike Paul the Octopus, they died without notice. Quite like La Roja, actually.
Australia: Aussie coach Ange Postecoglou said he was building a team for Russia ‘18 and Qatar ‘22 when picking a young and inexperienced squad. Had he picked more old and experienced players like 34-year old Tim Cahill (who scored two out of Australia’s three goals), Postecoglou could just have built a team for Brazil ‘14.
Colombia: A research claimed that of all the countries in the world, Colombia has the greatest percentage of its population following football seriously. Yes, even more than Brazil. That number is sure to have increased following their national side’s clean sweep of the group stages. Barring Argentina, they are continued…