After a fairly downbeat opening round of fixtures, I think most neutrals would have been very happy with the way the second and third rounds of the group stages developed.

It seems like the commentators and analysts were right when they put the stalemates down to nerves and pressure, as many of these players stepped for the first time on such a grand stage, and knew that the whole world was watching them. Not losing your first game is a crucial target that every team wanted to achieve, and that’s why so many games were extra cautious at the start.

But what a turnaround the following two rounds have been. We had scandal, drama, great goals, huge surprises, and some truly great world cup moments. Who would have thought New Zealand, the only country in the tournament without a professional football league, will go unbeaten? Or that both finalists from the last world cup, France and Italy, will go out before the knockout stages? Slovakia’s 3-2 victory over the world champions is one that will live on in legend.

All eyes are on the South American teams, who have truly bossed the tournament so far, with four of them finishing top of their group, and only Chile had to settle for second place. Europe and Africa, on the other hand, will be very disappointed with their results, and it maybe shows the tide is turning.

Let’s just hope this momentum continues in the knockout rounds.


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