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This Week At The World Cup


A little more than a week into the month-long 2014 World Cup, Betting Sports brings you a roundup of the headlines and stories making a big impression on back pages across the globe.

After two losses to open the tournament, defending champions Spain can no longer advance.

After two losses to open the tournament, defending champions Spain can no longer advance.

Defending champions Spain out of contention

Following Wednesday’s Group B match at the Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro, the headlines should have praised a fervent Chilean performance, but there were bigger storylines at work.

After a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the Netherlands in the opening game of the group, defending champion Spain needed to get at least a point from its matchup with Chile. But while the South American side raced around the pitch, looking dangerous at every opportunity, the Spanish could muster merely a flat and disconnected performance.

The 2-0 defeat sounded the death knell for the Spaniards. With the Netherlands and Chile each winning their first two games, Spain can no longer qualify for the knockout stage, rendering Monday’s game with Australia moot. The side becomes just the fifth defending champion to fail to advance to the knockout stages of the World Cup.

Hosts Brazil looking out of sorts

Hosting the World Cup for the first time in 64 years, Brazil was expected to turn on the flare, ramp up the passion, and put in a footballing performance for the ages. Two games into the tournament we’re yet to see any of the above.

Last Thursday’s opener against Croatia saw the Brazilian’s emerge with a 3-1 victory, but a victory that was far from convincing. An own goal, a suspect penalty decision and some poor personnel choices were shrugged off as opening game jitters, until the side ran into a Mexico side intent on advancing.

On Tuesday, the Mexicans got at Brazil, forcing Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side into a tough goalless draw. Once more the Brazilians failed to look like the flamboyant and inventive side we’ve come to expect. The draw was by no means a terrible result though. A win over Cameroon – already dispatched from contention – in Brasília on Friday and the side will likely top the group.

Chile, Colombia leading South American charge

While Brazil may be struggling, Chile and Colombia are leading the South American charge.

The former has played fan-favorite football this tournament on its way to two victories and dousing Spanish dreams. The latter has played unrestrained, scoring five goals en route to two victories. Chile is through to the next round while it would take a mathematical meltdown for the Colombians not to qualify.

Chile’s reward could be a matchup with Brazil, a game nobody will want to miss.

Meanwhile, Argentina looked solid, if not dazzling, in its opening fixture against debutants Bosnia and Herzegovina. The bookmaker-friendly side will have the opportunity to impress against Iran on Saturday (noon E.T).

Arjen Robben and his Netherlands side have had plenty to smile about.

Arjen Robben and his Netherlands side have had plenty to smile about.

Netherlands firing on all cylinders

Three-time beaten finalists, the Netherlands know the pain of losing. That pain is seemingly driving the team forward as it looks to win a first ever World Cup.

The Dutch demolition of Spain last Friday set precedent for the team moving forward. Two goals each for Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie helped the side to a 5-1 statement victory.

On Wednesday the Australians put up a fight, coming back from a 1-0 deficit to lead 2-1 before the Netherlands walked away with a 3-2 victory. Goal scoring hasn’t been a problem for Louis van Gaal’s side and long may that continue.

The Dutch are through to the next round but here’s hoping Monday’s game with Chile is an action-packed affair.

England on the brink

Bookmaker expectations for England were lofty at the start of the tournament. The side was ranked joint-sixth with Italy heading into the tournament with 22/1 odds of lifting a first cup since 1966. Those odds are a lot longer now.

After losing 2-1 to Italy in the opener, England met Uruguay – a team that also lost its opening fixture – in a cloudy São Paulo on Thursday. In what was essentially a must-win game, the English were undone by a pair of technically sublime goals from Luis Suárez, who plays his club football in England with Liverpool.

A second 2-1 defeat has left England on the brink of elimination. In fact, if Costa Rica manages to earn a point against Italy later today, English hopes will be quashed.

Goals are back in fashion

The opening eight days of World Cup action have proven to be a fine advertisement for the sport, bar a slew of questionable refereeing decisions and some downright Neanderthal-like behavior from players that will remain nameless.

The best thing of all though? Goals. And plenty of them.

Through the first phase of the group stage, a record 49 goals were scored. Only two games finished in a draw and just one ended goalless.

Group B – featuring the Netherlands, Spain, Chile and Australia – has been responsible for no fewer than 17 goals in four games, while the tournament average currently sits at 2.87 per game. That number had been over 3 until Japan’s goalless draw with Greece on Thursday.

Here’s hoping the goals keep on coming.

Teams advancing

The following sides have booked their place in the Round of 16.

  • Chile
  • Columbia
  • Netherlands

Teams eliminated

The following sides can no longer advance to the Round of 16.

  • Australia
  • Cameroon
  • Spain
John Brooks' winner against Ghana has the United States hopeful of advancing.

John Brooks’ winner against Ghana has the United States hopeful of advancing.

Still to Come

Between now and the end of Sunday, the second phase of games in the opening group stage will come to an end, and all 32 teams will have played a pair of games.

Highlights over the weekend include Italy and Costa Rica (Friday, noon. ET) battling for top spot in Group D; France’s clash with Switzerland (Friday, 3:00 p.m. ET), two unbeaten teams expected to go a long way in the tournament; and the United States facing Portugal (Sunday, 6:00 p.m. ET) in a game that could see the Americans unexpectedly quality and ahead of schedule.

After that, the group stage gets serious. From Monday, two group games will be played simultaneously as the field is whittled down to 16 teams in preparation for the knockout stage.

Updated World Cup odds

You can find the latest World Cup group odds here.

Your can find the latest World Cup team props here.

You can find the latest World Cup player props here.

You can find the latest World Cup specials here.

You can find the latest World Cup game lines here.

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