Five things you need to know about Friday’s World Cup action.
1. Costa Rica surprises again. Most pundits predicted Costa Rica would be the first team to be eliminated from this group. Instead, by defeating Italy 1-0, it is the first to qualify for the round of 16. In Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz, Costa Rica has a potent attack force. Perhaps most importantly, it has Kaylor Navas in goal, who has demonstrated in both games the importance of having a good shot-stopper.
The game against Italy also offered another chance to show off the new goal-line technology, as there was some question of whether Bryan Ruiz’s shot crossed the line…but it seems pretty obvious to me.
2. Queen Elizabeth will not be getting a kiss from Mario Balotelli. With English hopes of survival pinned on Italy beating Costa Rica, the always entertaining “Super Mario” said (threatened?) that should Italy win, he’d like a kiss from England’s monarch. Perhaps that explains why Balotelli had such an awful, awful game. The English will go home after their meaningless game against Costa Rica, and Italy will need to avoid defeat against Uruguay to not join them on the plane.
3. [Insert lazy Three Musketeers joke here.] France continued to look like a real threat, throwing off any memories of its last trip to the cup. Matthieu Valbuena, Karim Benzema and Olivier Giroud all ended up on the score sheet. Benzema is clearly one of the favorites for the golden boot, but praise must go to the energetic Giroud. Known more for his looks than his playing, Giroud often takes criticism from Arsenal fans for his failure to be Robin van Persie…but the Frenchman’s defensive work and contributions to team play are often overlooked. And obviously the man can the head ball, even with that absurd haircut.
Also, check out his assist for Valbuena:
And the “other” assist for the hobbit-like Valbuena:
4. Steve von Bergen gets an eyeful. The thrilling France-Switzerland game also gave the World Cup its first truly nasty injury, as Swiss Defender Steve von Bergen (to be added to the list of awesome World Cup names) took a high boot in the eye from Giroud. There was no malicious intent on Giroud’s part, but the site of the Swiss team medic holding blood soaked gauze over von Bergen’s eye is not one that you’ll soon forget. Google if you must.
5. Honduras goes home, but at least the team scored. Honduras had not scored a goal in 32 years in the World Cup, but Carlo Costly (also a great name) gave fans one to remember. Unfortunately, it was not enough. With the France already having sealed progression, both teams knew that a loss would send them home, a scenario that gave the match an exciting, scrappy atmosphere. Costly’s goal came in the 31st, but the superior Ecuador and the lively Enner Valencia ultimately were too much for Honduras. At least they’ll always have Costly’s goal to remember.
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times:
- World Cup 2014: A Guide for Americans
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- Michael Jordan Has Only Now Become a Billionaire