After a first round of group matches during which the majority of the well-fancied teams earned three precious points with varying degrees of comfort, the second group games in World Cup 2014 have been far from predictable. Some squads may have relaxed, become fatigued or in the case of Latin American and African teams, simply risen to the occasion and recovered some belief. With the final group games approaching, there may be some shock qualifiers from the outsiders.
In Group D, not many would have predicted Costa Rica emerging, with Uruguay potentially eliminating Italy. Yet, after an epic match in Manaus played in oppressive conditions both Italy and England performed at a much slower and lethargic tempo in their next fixture as Costa Rica and Uruguay reaped the reward of being accustomed to such conditions.
Similarly, Germany defeated Portugal 4-0 in very warm weather and were aided by the dismissal of Pepe from the Poruguese team. However, in their next match against Ghana, they faced a much more difficult task as Ghana seemed to discover their flair and confidence to lead the Germans at one stage. Whether Germany were playing within themselves is open to debate but they appeared content with the eventual 2-2 draw.
Elsewhere, both Argentina and Brazil have experienced far from easy games to date with Lionel Messi rescuing his team on two occasions in securing two victories while Brazil have failed to impress and have yet to confirm their qualification.
Among the outsiders, the Central American, African and Iranian teams have begun to show that they can compete at this level. Nigeria and Algeria managed to win their second matches as they seemed to grow into the tournament with displays suggesting that they can match most teams for skill even though they may show a degree of naivety at times.
Whether the less favoured teams can maintain their form throughout the remainder of the tournament is open to debate but they have certainly created more interest than expected. Furthermore, no team has yet emerged as clear favourites to win the competition with only France and perhaps the Netherlands showing consistently good form among the Europeans as Chile emerge as potential candidates from South America.
As the World Cup progresses further, many more shock results are possible as players become increasingly affected by the weather conditions and those teams showing greater fitness and adaptability may prosper.
It may also be the case that match winning strikers may emerge at the appropriate moment in much the same way as Luis Suarez and Messi have already proven for their respective teams.
The World Cup 2014 tournament is already being described as one of the best viewed for some considerable time. It is also emerging as one the more unpredictable competitions much to the satisfaction of international football fans.
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