If you just looked at the result, you'd think Brazil was fairly comfortable in their 3-1 win over Croatia on Thursday. You'd be wrong.
The Croatians were well up for the challenge and were incredibly unlucky to lose in the manner they did. A highly questionable penalty call, “earned” by Brazilian striker Fred, changed the complexion of the match completely and Croatia couldn't recover.
As the top overall soccer betting favorites, Brazil didn't exactly play to their full capability, but we're only one match in. They should only improve from here on out and they've already put themselves in a great position to advance as the number one seed in the group.
Kings No More
A Xabi Alonso penalty put Spain up 1-0 on Friday and it looked like they would be able to maintain their lead and start off Group B with a bang. Not so fast.
Netherlands played a perfect tactical match, killing the Spaniards on the counter and forcing countless mistakes, especially in the second half. Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie were both spectacular, scoring two goals each, en route to an improbable 5-1 victory for the underdogs.
Spain's obviously in a horrible position now, as their goal differential is horrendous heading into their final two matches against Chile and Australia. On the other side, Netherlands couldn't have asked for a better start and their confidence has surely sky-rocketed.
In what was the busiest day of the World Cup so far, Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy and Ivory Coast all won their respective matches to kick off their group stage endeavors in the right way.
The biggest surprise of them all was the Costa Ricans, who not only shocked Uruguay in a 3-1 win but did it in style. Sure, there was no Luis Suarez, but Costa Rica still looked the part and thoroughly deserved the three points.
We were impressed with Colombia's relentless attacking, while Greece actually looked good at times despite the harsh 3-0 scoreline. Ivory Coast did well to claw their way back to a 2-1 win over Japan, with Didier Drogba's arrival in the second half paying off immediately.
Meanwhile, England is in a tough spot now after a loss to the Italians, though there can be a little solace in knowing the performance wasn't too bad whatsoever. The Brits will like their chances of getting results against Uruguay and Costa Rica in their final two fixtures in Group D.
On Sunday, the highlight match has to be Argentina up against Bosnia-Herzegovina in a massive Group F match. We can't wait to see what kind of impact Messi has, while the Bosnians will be leaning heavily on Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko. Argentina will be the odds favorites coming in and the favorite World Cup pick for soccer bettors.
The following day features a couple matches that are sure to garner tons of attention. Early on we'll have Germany up against Portugal and in the evening the USA will make their 2014 World Cup debut against Ghana. A positive result in the group opener is a must for all of those involved in a stacked Group G.
We're eager to watch a very talented Belgium outfit on Tuesday and we'd be surprised if they didn't get a win against Algeria in their opener. That will be followed by Brazil/Mexico and Russia/South Korea.