This piece was suppose to fully focus on what a tremendous spectacle we've all been treated to so far (with the odd boring game here and there) but instead the main talking isn't on the great games, goals and players we've watched, instead it's about the actions of a player who hasn't learnt from his past misdemeanours - Luis Suarez.
Suarez has previous from his time at Ajax (earning a 7 match ban for biting Ottman Bakkal) and Liverpool (an 8 match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra and a 10 match ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic). In Uruguay's crunch match with Italy Suarez's actions were caught on camera and FIFA moved swiftly to announce that he'll be suspended for 9 matches and be banned from football related activities after biting Giorgio Chiellini. The disciplinary measures have divided opinion, although the majority seem to favour the sanction, Uruguayan officials and Chiellini himself have voiced their disagreement with the punishment handed out to Suarez. As the fallout continues, the world waits to hear what Suarez has to say about his punishment.
Now on to the football, it took severals days before the boring previous World Cup became a distant memory. The host Brazil won their group containing Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon, but they weren't very convincing in winning the group. They came from behind in the opening match to beat Croatia before drawing 0-0 to a Guillermo Ochoa inspired Mexico who were good value for the draw before a 4-1 demolition of Cameroon. Mexico finished second in the group after winning 3-1 in the decisive match against Croatia after winning 1-0 in their opening match against Cameroon, who did not win a single game after losing 4-0 to Croatia.
Group B being arguably the group of death contained holders Spain, runners up Holland, Chile and Australia. Spain's demise was the story of the group after they were thrased 5-1 by the Dutch despite taking the lead, the highlight of the game being Robin Van Persie's superb diving header which levelled the game before Spain were picked apart. Their lose 2-0 to Chile at the Maracana Stadium ensure their elimination from the competition before winning the wooden spoon match 3-0 against Australia, who played pretty well during the competition with their results not reflecting their performances. They lost 3-1 to Chile after pushing them all the way before conceding an injury time goal. Australia lost 3-2 to Holland despite being the better team, the match featured Tim Cahill's volley which is a goal of the tournament contender. Holland beat Chile 2-0 to win the group and more crucially avoid the host Brazil in the next round.
Colombia topped group C with convincing wins against Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan. James Rodriguez has been one of the players of the tournament and his team mates will look to him for inspiration to help Colombia to step up in the knockout stages. Greece finished second in dramatic circumstances as they scored a penalty in injury time to snatch second from Ivory Coast, who had beaten Japan in their opening game to put themselves in a good position to reach the knockout stage. Greece's draw to Japan had given them a glimmer of hope in their winner takes all match against Ivory Coast despite being reduced to 10 men in the first half.
The other group of death containing Italy, Uruguay, England and Costa Rica had several twists and turns along the way. The first being Costa Rica's 3-1 scalp of Uruguay after going behind, many had tipped Costa Rica to be the whipping boys of group d but they ended up winning the group (after beating Italy 1-0 and drawing 0-0 with England) with the only goal they conceded being from the penalty spot. Uruguay snatched second place in the last game against the Italians, Diego Godin scoring minutes after Luis Suarez had bitten Giorgio Chiellini. England were out before the group had finished. Despite playing well they lost their opening game 2-1 to Italy and lost 2-1 to Uruguay. The two goals they conceded against the Uruguayans were very soft from a defensive perspective and leave the World Cup without winning a match for the first time since 1958.
France topped group e without losing a game after a dominant 3-0 win over Honduras which saw the Hondurans finish with 10 men and beat Switzerland 5-2 in an entertaining that included the French missing a penalty before finishing off with a goal less draw against Ecuador. Switzerland finished second after Xherdan Shaqiri's hat trick in the final match against Honduras, Ottmar Hitzfeld's side had put themselves into contention after beating Ecuador in the opening match 2-1 coming from a goal down. Ecuador had given themselves hope of going through after beating Honduras 2-1 in their second match. Ecuador were up against it in their final match against France after Antonio Valencia was red carded.
Lionel Messi became the first player to be named man of the match in each group match after scoring every game to inspire Argentina to finish top with three wins from three. He scored what proved to be the winning goal as the Argies beat Bosnia 2-1 in their opening before scoring an injury time winning against a spirited Iran. Messi scored the opening goal and a free kick on the stroke of half time in an entertaining 3-2 victory over Nigeria, who had finished second on 4 points after drawing 0-0 with Carlos Queiroz's Iran and beat a disappointing Bosnia side 2-1. Bosnia left the World Cup with a win though beating Iran 3-0 in their final match. There were high hopes that Bosnia could be the surprise package of the World Cup, but the experience of a World Cup could spur them on in future tournaments.
Germany topped group g after winning their last group match against USA, Thomas Muller was has arguably been one of the best attackers of the tournament (and is so far the joint top scorer with Lionel Messi and Neymar on 4 goals) scored the only goal of the second half. Muller scored a hat trick in the Germany's opening game as they dominated Portugal in a 4-0 win after Pepe's sending off for a stupid headbutt on Muller. Muller set up Germany's first goal in their thrilling 2-2 draw against Ghana. The Ghanians lost their first match 2-1 to USA in an entertaining match and despite having an outside chance of going through in the last game, lost 2-1 to Portugal after a Cristiano Ronaldo winner. The Ghanians had sent Sulley Muntari and Kevin Prince-Boateng home hours before the game for "indiscipline" with many speculating what may have gone on in the Ghanian camp. Portugal disappointed in the World Cup despite finishing joint second on 4 points, but finished behind USA on goal difference, they drew 2-2 with the US thanks to an injury time goal after being outplayed for the majority of the match.
Belgium topped a group h which included Algeria, Russia and South Korea. Despite all the hype surrounding the Belgian golden generation, they underperformed at times during each match despite winning all of their group matches. All of their goals came in the last 20 minutes as they came from behind to beat Algeria 2-1, and won 1-0 against Russia and South Korea (having been reduced to 10 men in the first half against South Korea). Belgium will need to step up their performances if they're to progress further in the World Cup. Algeria caused a huge shock finishing second after beating South Korea 4-2 and drawing 1-1 in their crunch match with Russia. Algeria's reward for their hard work is a tie against Germany in the next round, but have undoubtedly exceeded expectations. Igor Akinfeev had a World Cup to forget after his error cost Russia a possible victory in their 1-1 draw with South Korea and was at fault for Algeria's equaliser as he failed to clear from a free kick when he tried to punch the ball away.
So far 136 goals have been scored in the group phase averaging nearly 3 goals per game, the World Cup is set for some exciting and intriguing games in the knockout phase. Many had tipped Brazil and Argentina to meet in the final at the Maracana Stadium on July 13th, but after watching what's unfolded during the group stages, those who've made it to the knockout phase have shown that on their day they can achieve anything. If the group stage is anything to go by, it'll be hard to pick which teams will go through and triumph.
Team of the tournament so far:
Aurier, Marquez, Howedes, Blind
Robben, Rodriguez, Oscar
Muller, Messi, Neymar