One week into the 2014 World Cup and the tournament is still shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory.
Wednesday's action featured a comeback, the demise of a once-great champion and a one-sided demolition that may have awoken one of the World Cup's sleeping giants. By the end of the night, two teams booked their place into the next round, while another opened the door slightly.
Here's a look at the Day 7 results and how they impacted the group standings.
Day 7 Results
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|2014 World Cup Group Standings|
Day 7 Recap
Wednesday nearly started off with what would've been the biggest upset of the tournament so far. Mile Jedinak gave Australia a 2-1 lead from the spot in the 54th minute. The Socceroos conceded an equalizer to Robin van Persie four minutes later; then Memphis Depay scored what proved to be the winner in the 68th minute.
The Netherlands were far from convincing in their 3-2 win.
Louis van Gaal had a ton of success with the 5-3-2 against Spain; however, against Australia, the formation only served to bog down the midfield. Only after Depay's inclusion in the 45th minute—following an injury to Bruno Martins Indi—did the Dutch have success. The Australian midfield and defense were stretched in order to deal with the Dutch width, leaving space for the Netherlands' attackers.
Depay did get a bit lucky for the winner. Mat Ryan should've done much better after getting a hand to the shot. The goal is a testament to Depay's confidence, though, in that he wasn't afraid of taking a chance from long range.
At 20 years old, he's the youngest scorer ever for the Dutch at the World Cup and youngest overall since Lionel Messi in 2006, per ESPN Stats and Info:
After the match, the PSV winger spoke to FIFA.com about his performance.
"Who wouldn’t dream of that scenario?" Depay said. "Every footballer fantasizes about playing and scoring in the World Cup. But like every fantasy, you never know if or when it’ll ever come true. And it’s even nicer when it takes you by surprise."
Depay came into the tournament as one of the Netherlands' most promising players and duly delivered on Wednesday.
One player who didn't deliver was Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas. There isn't a hole deep enough for the Real Madrid star to climb in and escape what's been a dreadful World Cup for him so far.
Casillas did a poor job of goalkeeping on Eduardo Vargas' opener and followed up with a terrible punch that set up Charles Aranguiz for Chile's second and decisive goal.
Of course, as Cristian Nyari of the Bundesliga Fanatic pointed out, Casillas isn't solely to blame for Spain's exit from the World Cup:
Diego Costa was a massive disappointment. Perhaps he was still feeling the lingering effects from the knee injury he suffered back in April. Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique had no such excuse. They were just plain bad.
You got the sense that Wednesday night was an end of an era, as older players like Alonso, Casillas and Xavi have likely seen their last international tournament.
Casillas was noncommittal about his future beyond the World Cup, per AS:
Take nothing away from Chile. They deserve all of the plaudits headed their way. Zonal Marking's Michael Cox was particularly impressed with the way that Jorge Sampaoli's side pressed Spain without going overboard with the tackling:
Gary Medel and Claudio Bravo stood out in the 2-0 win over the reigning champions. They repelled Spain's best attacking movements.
With Chile's victory, their match against the Netherlands on June 23 will decide the winner of the group. Both teams have advanced. All that's left now is which one will top Group B.
It will be interesting to see how Van Gaal approaches the match. Martins Indi suffered a light concussion, per Dutch football journalist Elko Born:
If he misses the Chile match, the Netherlands might not be able to use a three-man back line. Van Gaal may be forced to use the 4-3-3, which offers far less defensive cover. Chile's hard-pressing, attacking style could rip that formation apart, especially if Daley Blind plays left-back.
After two exhilarating matches, fans couldn't expect to get spoiled with a third.
As bad as Spain were, they didn't hold a candle to Cameroon. The Indomitable Lions were anything but in their 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Croatia.
They started the match in the worst way possible after conceding a goal to Ivica Olic in the 11th minute. That was compounded by Alex Song's sending-off in the 40th minute for a foolish elbow to the back of Mario Mandzukic.
Song joins his cousin, Rigobert, who was sent off in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, per Bleacher Report UK:
Spanish football journalist Dermot Corrigan doesn't think this will make Barcelona's job any easier if they want to sell the midfielder:
Cameroon only got worse from there. They had no chemistry on the pitch and couldn't string any attacking moves together. Bosnian football journalist Sasa Ibrulj compared them to a pub team:
The overall positive from the match was that Croatia played like the team many expected them to before the tournament. Mandzukic's return from suspension couldn't have gone much better, with the Bayern Munich striker registering a brace. Ivan Perisic also played well, scoring a goal and assisting on Olic's opener.
With the win, Croatia move to third in the group, but they still control their own destiny. A win over Mexico and they're through to the knockout stages.
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