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International football badly needed a good World Cup. The jury is yet to deliver a verdict with the knockout rounds still to come, but all indications are that this will not be a good World Cup. Indeed, it is on track to be a great World Cup. Two weeks to the day that the opening match of the tournament between Brazil and Croatia came to a close, the curtain came down on the group stages and what a sensational show it was. We are now already through three quarters of the tournament, but rather than be sad that much of it is over, we should be grateful with what we witnessed. It was a group stage that gave us more special moments than the three previous World Cups combined. A group stage of surprises, where tactically versatile and organized sides shocked the so-called super powers of the game. A group stage that saw the renaissance of 3-5-2, used so well by surprise teams like Netherlands, Costa Rica and Mexico. A group stage of counterattackers, comebacks and headers, trends that the Netherlands used in their demolition of Spain back on Day 2. Their superb pressing and clinical finishing gave us a glimpse of what was to come in Brazil, but not before that look and pass by Daley Blind just before the half-time break. The ball landed on top of the supremely intelligent head of Robin van Persie and his magnificent header over Iker Casillas changed everything. It became the group stage of headers with 27 more following van Persies, but none of them beating it. It became the group stage of comebacks. Spain, massacred by the Dutch 5-1 in the third game of the tournament, was already the second team, after Croatia a day earlier, to lose a game they led. A small, exclusive group of only four from 2010 would grow quickly as Uruguay, Japan, Ecuador, Algeria and Australia joined them in the first week. During their second group games Germany, Ghana, Portugal and USA all managed to not win games against each other that they led in. Even Uruguay, Greece and Algeria had comebacks of their own, all qualifying despite losing their opening World Cup match. Only Spain did that in 2010. It became the group stage of counterattacks, once again ignited by the Dutch over Spain as they scored their last three goals with a combined 29 seconds in possession, and never more highlighted than when Switzerland broke away in the final seconds to score a dramatic, crucial winner over Ecuador. It became the group stage of creative, left-footed masters who glided across the field into space left open by a transition. The group stage of substitute goals, 24 in total, highlighted by Miroslav Klose joining the great Ronaldo on 15 World Cup goals and James Rodriguez dancing his way through the Japanese defence for one of the goals of the tournament. In the end, though, it was the group stage of goals as an incredible 136 went in (there was a total of 145 scored in South Africa). It was no surprise that a wind of caution blew around the stadiums as the third group games took place but before they started the goals per game ratio stood at a wonderful 2.96. It ends the group stage at a beautifully high 2.83. There are still 16 games to go, of course, but no World Cup since 1970 has come close to that average. It wasnt just about the amount of goals, however. Many of the worlds stars were the ones scoring and we already have three world class stars on four goals each through three games. My 23 man squad of the group stages GK – Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico), Keylor Navas (Costa Rica), Vincent Enyeama (Nigeria) D – Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast), Cristian Gamboa (Costa Rica), Kostas Manolas (Greece), Rafa Marquez (Mexico), Mario Yepes (Colombia), Raphael Varene (France), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Costa Rica), Daley Blind (Netherlands). M – Jose Vazquez (Mexico), Hector Herrera (Mexico), Blaise Matuidi (France), Charles Aranguiz (Chile), Toni Kroos (Germany), James Rodriguez (Colombia) F – Neymar (Brazil), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Karim Benzema (France), Thomas Muller (Germany), Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Robin Van Persie (Netherlands) Group Winners – Brazil, Netherlands, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Argentina, Germany & Belgium. For the third time in the last four World Cups, three teams that were not seeded won groups. For the second successive World Cup, the only seed that didnt progress through to the next stage was the previous winners (Spain 2014, Italy 2010). Since the World Cup went to 32 teams in 1998, over the last four World Cups, nine group winners have lost in the next round (average of more than two per World Cup) and there hasnt been a World Cup in that time when all group winners advanced. Runners-up – Mexico, Chile, Greece, Uruguay, Switzerland, Nigeria, USA & Algeria. With that stat in mind it is likely that at least one of these teams will beat their opponent. Look for Greece, Uruguay, possibly Mexico, USA and even Chile to continue this streak. After that? In nine of the last 10 World Cups a group runner-up has made it to at least the semi-final stage. That will be the target of one of these teams going forward. Ranking teams eliminated at this World Cup based on performances in Brazil 32. Honduras31. Cameroon30. Japan29. South Korea28. England27. Iran26. Bosnia & Herzegovina25. Russia24. Portugal23. Australia22. Spain21. Croatia20. Ivory Coast19. Italy18. Ghana17. Ecuador Ranking teams left at this World Cup based on their chances of winning the World Cup 16. Switzerland15. Algeria14. USA13. Greece12. Costa Rica11. Nigeria10. Mexico9. Belgium8. Chile7. Uruguay6. Colombia5. France4. Netherlands3. Germany2. Brazil1. Argentina Buy Salomon Shoes . -- Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale searched more than three quarters for five guys who would play well together. Wholesale Salomon Shoes .Y. - Sven Andrighetto scored once and set up two more as the Hamilton Bulldogs hung on to defeat the host Adirondack Flames 5-3 on Tuesday in American Hockey League action. http://www.cheapsalomon.us/. Jason Zucker and Matt Cooke also scored for Minnesota, which has won five of six. Kuemper made five saves in the first, nine in the second, and nine in the third. The rookies best save came with 2:17 left in the third period when he denied former Wild forward Matt Cullen from just outside of the crease on the right side. Salomon Wholesale China . Halak, 28, split his eighth NHL seasons between the St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals, compiling a 29-13-7 record in 52 games. Cheap Salomon Shoes . Claude Noel will be the man behind the bench when the team hits the ice of the MTS Centre to begin its inaugural season.Salt Lake City, UT (SportsNetwork.com) - Gordon Hayward joked last month on Twitter that hed crush LeBron James in a game of one-on-one. Hayward was talking about video games, but he did get the best of James on Wednesday. Hayward stepped back and drained a right-wing jumper at the buzzer to lift the Utah Jazz to a 102-100 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. James, who had six points in the final 13.9 seconds, hit three free throws after drawing a foul from beyond the arc on Derrick Favors with 3.4 seconds left to tie the game, but Hayward had the answer at the other end to send the Cavs to a 1-3 start. Hayward took an inbounds pass at the top of the arc as James fell down, took a few dribbles to his right, stepped back and rose over the outstretched arm of Tristan Thompson as time expired. Hayward finished with 21 points and seven assists, Derrick Favors posted 21 points and 10 rebounds and Enes Kanter added 18 points for the Jazz, who have won two of three since starting 0-2. Kyrie Irving netted a game-high 34 points and James provided 31 for Cleveland, which trailed by as many as 16, but Irvings runner with 5:25 left stakked the Cavs to their first lead of the second half at 87-85.dddddddddddd James nailed a jumper to make it 89-86 before Utah responded with a 10-1 run. Favors put in a reverse layup and split a pair of free throws to cap the surge and give the Jazz a 96-90 advantage with 1:29 to go. After Alec Burks sunk two foul shots to give Utah a 98-94 spread, James swished a fadeaway triple from the left corner with 13.9 ticks on the clock. Burks knocked down two more freebies at the other end prior to James three makes from the charity stripe. Earlier, the Jazz made nine of their first 11 shots and raced out to a 22-14 start before settling for a 32-23 cushion following a quarter of play. Utah led 59-48 at halftime and built the margin as high as 15 early on in the third. Cleveland closed the third on an 18-6 surge to get within 76-75 heading into the final frame. Game Notes Utah outrebounded Cleveland 41-30 and held a 46-38 advantage in the paint ... The Cavs scored 24 points off 15 Utah turnovers ... The last team to win an NBA title following a 1-3 start are the 1990-91 Chicago Bulls. China NFL Jerseys Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys NFL Jerseys Cheap Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap Basketball Jerseys Online Stitched Hockey Jerseys Wholesale Baseball Jerseys Football Jerseys Outlet College Jerseys For Sale Cheap MLB Jerseys Wholesale Soccer Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys For Sale Wholesale NFL Jerseys ' ' '
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