We’re just four days into the World Cup, but already people are suggesting that Brazil 2014 is on course to be one of the greatest tournaments of all time.
It’s a contentious point of view. Those of a certain age probably still hold Mexico 1970 in high regard, while USA ’94 has plenty of misty-eyed supporters.
France ’98 also had some memorable moments – and who could forget Italia ’90, if just for Nessun Dorma alone?
But this year’s tournament in Brazil has the potential to eclipse the lot of them.
Premature? Undoubtedly. Unjustified? Absolutely not. Here we present six reasons why it’s right to believe the hype.
1. GOALS, GOALS, GOALS
The goalfest in Brazil has come as a welcome change after a horribly sterile group stage in South Africa four years ago, which was mostly notable for France going on strike and defending champions Italy failing to win a game.
In fact, after eight games the 2014 World Cup had more than double the number of goals as its predecessor at the same stage.
Brazil 2014 is enjoying a remarkable three and a half goals per game – a figure which has not been bettered since 1958 in Sweden, a tournament when French striker Just Fontaine managed to plunder 13 goals, seven more than Pele.
This makes Brazil 2014 the most prolific tournament of the modern era, averaging as much as goal a game more than three of the past six finals. Italia 1990 remains the nadir with a paltry 2.21 goals per game.
2. SHOCK RESULTS
Has there ever been a better group stage game than Netherlands‘ 5-1 rout of Spain? The margin of victory should not detract from the fact this was an all-time classic, filled with wonderful moments and one of the most iconic World Cup goals in Robin van Persie‘s diving lob header. The pure thrill of watching Arjen Robben charge through the defending champions made this a stunning night of football.
[VAN PERSIE ENJOYS HIS CRUYFF MOMENT]
And what about upsetting the odds? On Saturday night we saw Costa Rica engineer a massive shock in England’s group as they defeated Uruguay 3-1 with another thrilling performance. Joel Campbell was the star of the show in a result which blew open one of the toughest groups and sent seismic waves through an already pulsating tournament.
A reminder: this tournament is only four days old. And the first day only had one game.
3. NO DRAWS, AND TOPSY-TURVY GAMES
Not a single game has ended in a draw yet in Brazil; South Africa 2010 started with one. A cultural swing towards attacking tactics – and sublime counter-attacking – has made this an unforgettable start with teams looking to take all three points from the off rather than try and hold onto one.
As Rio Report said in its look at the Argentina match on Sunday night, we’re not sure if teams can’t, or won’t, defend. But we’re not complaining.
It’s not just the attacking football and number of goals, though – it’s the fact that the matches are exciting, and swinging to and fro with regularity as well.
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4. THE BIG NAMES ARE PERFORMING
Just look at the top scorers’ list after three days: Robben, Van Persie and Neymar have two apiece and Alexis Sanchez has come to the party too with a goal and an assist from Chile. Andrea Pirlo put in another passing masterclass against England and Mario Balotelli took the man of the match award.
Even the famously World Cup-shy Lionel Messi is getting in on the act: he hadn’t scored at the World Cup since a late scoreline-enhancer in a 6-0 dead rubber group stage win back in 2006, but he put that right against Bosnia on Sunday with a goal so good that you’d have sworn he was wearing a Barcelona shirt to pull it off.
To a man, the big players are stepping up to the stage without fear. No one has personified this trait more than Neymar, who responded to all the pressure on his shoulders with a brace in Brazil’s 3-1 win over Croatiaon the opening day.
[NATION ERUPTS AS NEYMAR WINS OPENER FOR BRAZIL]
5. IT’S IN BRAZIL.
Forget the playing fields of public schools in England, Brazil is the real spiritual home of football. Against a backdrop of Rio’s Sugarloaf Mountain and the Amazon rainforest, this tournament has bounced along to the stereotypical Samba beat which is said to infect this glorious, gigantic country. If you can’t get up for a World Cup in Brazil – whether manager, player or fan – you need your pulse checking.
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6. BECAUSE EVERYONE IS SAYING IT IS
It’s been decided. Do one Mexico 1970.
dirijo-me à senhora Dilma Rousseff pessoa física mesmo, não à presidente do meu país, e chamando-a de dona porque foi assim que aprendi a me dirigir a pessoas do sexo feminino que já tenham uma certa idade e sejam mães ou avós de família.
E sabe onde aprendi como me dirigir educadamente a quem quer que seja, mas principalmente às senhoras?
Foi na zona leste, dona Dilma, lá mesmo pras bandas do estádio em que a senhora foi tão rude e desrespeitosamente tratada na última quinta-feira. Continuar a ler