World Cup Analysis

The Glorious Ticos

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So they caught Uruguay off guard. Two quick counter attack goals left the 2010 semi-finalists stunned. Uruguay was not prepared to play without their biting talisman, Luis Suarez. Surely, the Costa Ricans were in ecstasy that wouldn’t last long. Friday’s match with the Italians would return them back to earth. Except it didn’t. The Ticos didn’t even play like an underdog. They truly appeared to be the class of the group. Remember, the Group of Death this tournament is Group G… only because Costa Rica wasn’t good enough to be in a Group of Death. England, Italy, and Uruguay are a terrifying trio that understandably left Costa Rica as an afterthought. Through two games, Costa Rica is through to the knockout stages.

One of the beautiful aspects of the World Cup is seeing a player who has lost all confidence with their club team get a new life playing for their country. Bryan Ruiz was a spark for Fulham initially, but fell out of good graces with a new manager and was eventually loaned out. Essentially, Bryan Ruiz is a player not good enough to play on a relegated Premier League team. However, with Costa Rica, he is a key player in their menacing counter attack. Ruiz headed in a beautiful cross to beat a team full of stars on Italy. However, only talking about Ruiz takes away from everything that Costa Rica is about. Ruiz symbolizes many players on Costa Rica. They are a squad full of promising, but not extremely successful club players. However, give them 90 minutes to play organized football and they can beat 11 club superstars from Italy, Uruguay, and likely England next week.

 

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World Cup Analysis

The All Important 2nd Goal

Generally, the first goal of a such a low scoring sport like football is the important one. Google research shows a team who scores first is only about 10% likely to lose that match altogether. Not the case with the World Cup through eight matches. Four of the eight teams to concede a goal first have come back to win the game outright. Brazil, Netherlands, Costa Rica, and Ivory Coast have all appeared outmatched for major portions of their first halves. Each one of those games changed completely after the equalizer struck netting. In fact, it is the second goal which is all important. Six of the seven matches to feature two or more goals have been won by the team who scores second. It’s not uncommon to witness confidence flow from a team who has just scored, but those four games saw a dramatic shift in momentum post-equalizer. Not sure if the nerves of the initial World Cup match makes sense for this trend to continue, or we just have a bizarre first eight games.

Side note – We have seen the best celebration of the tournament just a few games in. Thank you Pablo Armero and the Colombian National Team.

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