Just centimetres away from knocking out Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. Round of applause for Iran, a team that was more than just an underdog: nobody would have thought they could perform so well. They beat Morocco, unexpectedly, then even more unexpectedly they gave Spain a really tough time and then almost scripting victory against Portugal.
Rock-solid at the back, deadly upfront. Still, no goals conceded, whilst topping the group with nine points. Of course, if you want aesthetics to look the other way, but the feeling is they would want to be avoided by any opponent.
The worst start possible, with a missed penalty. The best end to the group, with that goal, and it isn’t the end, as the adventure continues for him and Argentina. His teammates have struggled to make an impact but Leo was decisive overall and is still alive.
That last-minute Xherdan Shaqiri goal was the difference between Switzerland and Serbia, as the latter were knocked out despite being favourites. The Swiss held Brazil to the draw, beat the Serbians then cruised to the knock-out stages in the final game. Impressive.
Five goals are already in the bag, leading the race to the Golden Boot. From Tottenham to England, his form hasn’t changed, confirming his status as the top player for the Three Lions in his first appearance at a World Cup.
Nine points out of nine is the best signal for everyone: Belgium mean serious business. Solid at the back, deadly upfront, the Belgians have been one of the best sides so far, and they’ll be a real hassle for anyone from now on.
The curse of the World Champions has hit the Germans, a group who you wouldn’t think could be touched by supernatural things. Yet it happened as Joachim Low’s men were blasted out by a South Korea side that had nothing to play for.
He scored two goals, sure, but was meant to be one of the top five players at this World Cup, but will barely be remembered.
The best jersey of the tournament was worn only once, and it gave them the win. But other than that, Nigeria were disappointing, especially in the last game, when they should have attacked Argentina to try and snatch the spot to the knock-out stages.
The likes of Nemanja Matic, Adem Ljajic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Aleksandar Kolarov, yet no real team. Put together, all these players were not good enough. They beat Costa Rica, would have deserved more against Switzerland, but the truth is, they are going home.
On paper, one of the best teams. In reality, out at the group stages, without ever looking like they could qualify. Starman Robert Lewandowski was simply not good enough, like most of his supposedly starring partners.
Like Poland, a lot more was expected from them. The missed penalty against Denmark ended being the real difference between a place in the knockout stages and a flight home. The latter is the final verdict.