World Cup Knockout Stage Full of Surprises
This Knockout Stage is UNREAL
11 minutes into the game, Spain scored on an own goal and we thought that this was it for Russia. No way can they knock off one of the elite teams in the world. Shortly before the first half ends, Russia is able to tie the game up at one. Surely powerhouse Spain would be able to fight this one out and win over a team that isn’t expected to do much. But this knockout stage was about to be flipped upside down.
Fast forward nearly an hour and now we’re in a penalty shootout. Russia doesn’t miss one shot in penalties going 4-4 and Spain got denied not once, but twice including an amazing kick save by Akinfeev on the final shot to solidify the win. Russia knocked off Spain to move on to the round of 8.
The Drama Doesn’t Stop There
The same day that Russia upsets Spain in penalties, Croatia does the exact same thing to Denmark. Mathias Jørgensen scores in the first minute of the game to give Denmark a 1-0 advantage. 58 seconds into the match Denmark looked to be on their way to the round of 8. However; in the 4th minute Mario Mandžukić ties the match up at 1 after a failed attempt to clear a ball at the goal by Denmark.
That’s all we would see for goals in this one until penalties. Croatia had an opportunity to win this in extra time when Luka Modrić was fouled in the box but his penalty shot was saved by Schmeichel in the 116th minute. Both goaltenders were marvelous facing penalties as both made remarkable saves but Schmeichel couldn’t save Ivan Rakitić’s final attempt that put Croatia through.
Brazil vs. Mexico
Mexico had an opportunity to do what only two other teams had done. Defeat Germany and Brazil in the same World Cup. The last to do it was the 1982 Italy squad. These two played to a scoreless tie in the first 45 and many thought that the first goal was probably going to be the only goal. We were close as Brazil took this one 2-0 behind goals from Neymar and Roberto Firmino. Ochoa was brilliant for Mexico in the first half but Brazil made some great adjustments to get the result and move on.
Belgium vs. Japan
As if there already wasn’t enough drama, Belgium and Japan had to add to it. Japan looked like the faster, stronger, more technical team holding a 2-0 well into the 2nd half. They ended the first half with a goal and started the 2nd half with a goal and they looked oh so confident…until the 69th minute.
Belgium tied the game in just 5 minutes when Jan Vertonghen (69′) and Marouane Fellaini (74′) stunned the Japanese squad. And just when we thought we were going to extra time, Nacer Chaldi delivered the final blow when he rolled in the winning goal in extra time.
One thing is for certain, pretty much whatever you expect in this World Cup, just think the opposite.
–Brian Berard (@RockyBerard)