Goal difference in play
The tightest of all the six groups, three of the four teams finished tied with 6 points each. This group had no clear winner. USA beat Ghana, Ghana beat Colombia, and Colombia beat the Americans. Each also beat the winless fourth team in the group, hosts India, to complete their tally of two wins each. The trio was eventually separated by goal difference. Though the Americans were the first team to win two matches – which had initially seemed good enough to advance – they eventually had to rely on being the best third-place team in the competition to go to the next round.
Mali’s 85 attempts at goal
Mali were runners-up in the last edition of the World Cup, but had established a reputation of being a fiercely aggressive and fast team. They qualified for the tournament in India as champions of the African Cup of Nations, and that trend has carried forward to this edition of the World Cup as well. ‘Les Aigles’ (The Eagles) ran rampant and recorded 85 attempts at goal in their three matches – the most by any team in the tournament. However in that tally, they managed only 29 shots on target, hit the woodwork five times, and scored just eight. They also finished second in the group.
Germany take it on the chin
The biggest name present in the group was Germany. Die Mannschaft (who at the senior level are the current World Champions), however, they were at the receiving end of the biggest upset so far this tournament. The Germans were bullied and battered in their alarming 4-0 loss against a well organised Iran team — making them the only big-name team to have imploded in a group stage match. They still managed to scrape through a 3-1 win over Guinea to qualify for the knockouts.
High on flair
From a neutral’s perspective, Group D had the most attractive lineup at the World Cup, with Brazil and Spain squaring off in the opener at Kochi. Despite the presence of the two powerhouses of football, along with Korea DPR and debutants Niger, the group managed to produce the least number of goals in the tournament. A total of 14 goals came from the four teams, six from toppers Brazil, seven from second placed Spain, a solitary strike by Niger and none by North Korea.
France indulge in goal fest
Placed in the North East corner of India, in Guwahati, Group E has seen the most number of goals.In the six matches that were played, a whopping 31 goals were scored — more so because the group contained two of the whipping boys Honduras and debutants New Caledonia. France by far has been the most prolific, hitting the net 14 times, followed by Japan on eight. Honduras on their own part has scored seven while the Oceania team found the net twice. Interestingly, New Caledonia’s second goal earned them a shock 1-1 draw against Japan – their first ever World Cup point. The group also has the tournament’s top goalscorer, French teen Amine Gouiri (in pic) who has five goals to his name.
England in cruise control
Arguably the most competitive group on paper, Kolkata hosted Mexico, Asian champions Iraq, South American runners-up Chile and European finalist England. The group panned out differently though, as England cruised to a perfect record – despite a nervy 3-2 encounter against Mexico. Iraq too was impressive to capture second spot. The group concluded with the only goalless draw of the tournament, when Mexico and Chile blanked each other out. It ensured that Chile — along with Korea DPR — became the only two teams in the tournament that failed to score.