It’s back. The World Cup is here and it has not missed a beat. Through the first three days we’ve had upsets, blowout, and surprisingly enough not a single tie. The first big storyline to follow has been the officiating.
As if officiating in North America wasn’t bad enough, it seems like Brazil is trying to top them. On the opening day, Brazil was awarded a penalty kick due to a foul committed by Croatia in the 69’ minute. It was clear to everyone there was slim to none contact committed, but somehow Fred was able to draw the foul. The penalty kick would give Brazil the edge and they would never look back as they went on to win 3-1. The next day Mexico had two first half goals disallowed for offside, but it also was clearly the wrong call. It didn’t hurt them, as they eventually 1-0. Officials have played a huge part in some of these first games, but will this trend continue? Or will this die out over time?
It was the first time that two teams who competed in the finals of the World Cup actually played in the opening round. In a rematch of the 2010 finals, the Netherlands were looking for revenge against world power Spain. They would get that and much more. Spain jumped out to a 1-0 lead after a PK from Xabi Alonso. Right before the end of the first half, Netherlands striker Robin van Persie put in an early bid for the best goal of 2014 World Cup. Persie took a through ball and flew in to notch a 17-yard diving header: the longest header in World Cup history. The Netherland followed this with four-second half goals in route to a 5-1 victory over the defending champs. This could be a bad sign for Spain, a team that normally has no worries in group play. Now, they are in danger of qualifying for the next round. As for the Netherland, they are now in control for Group B and can coast to the next round.
We also saw the first major upset occur yesterday. Costa Rica was able to upset Uruguay 3-1. While Group D is not the group of death, it is certainty one of the most challenging groups in the Cup. Uruguay now has games against England and Italy: two of Europe’s best teams. Costa Rica has given themselves light now. They have not advanced to the knockout stage since 1990 and have a real shot.