As teams are starting to play their third and final matches in group play of the 2014 World Cup, a few squads have already clinched spots to the knockout stage, while others are still fighting to take the top spots of their respective groups in the latest tables.
Before Monday's action, six of the 16 spots in the knockout round had already been clinched, while a few other teams had already been eliminated. Still, even though some teams have clinched spots, they'll still likely be fighting for the top spots in their groups to avoid playing stronger teams to start the knockout stage.
As teams now start playing their final matches of group play, below are the updated tables as games end along with the latest results from Day 12.
Day 12 Results
Brazil 4, Cameroon 1
As Brazil tried to fight for the top spot in Group A, they had to go against a team that was already eliminated in Cameroon. Thanks to their stars, Brazil didn't disappoint, coming away with a dominant 4-1 victory.
Brazil looked like the more aggressive team early on, getting plenty of great scoring opportunities from close range. They were finally able to break through in the 17th minute when Neymar found the back of the net for his third goal in three World Cup matches.
NEYMAR 1-0 Brazil https://t.co/eBX6lSGJxn— gifdsports (@gifdsports) June 23, 2014
Before the game, Fred had talked about how important Neymar was to the team.
"Everyone knows that in our team Neymar is the player who makes the difference,” Fred told Vaishali Bhardwaj from Goal.com. “Our opponents are forced to impose particular marking [systems on Neymar]. If it is an off-day [for him], our group has the capacity to find other solutions to be effective. But often we try to bring the game to Neymar because he is our star.”
Cameroon were able to quickly answer back, however. Jooel Matip had an easy goal in the 26th minute to tie things up. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the first goal scored by a Cameroon player in the World Cup that wasn't Samuel Eto'o
It was a big goal for Cameroon, but their defense couldn't hold off the aggressive attack of Brazil, as Neymar stepped up once again to get his second goal of the game before half time.
After his second goal of the game, former Manchester United player Rio Ferdinand pointed out that at just 22 years old, Neymar already has 35 goals and 20 assists in just 53 games with Brazil.
Neymar: 22yrs old, 53 games, 35 goals, 20 assists....that's illegal!! Dealing with pressure like a boss.— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) June 23, 2014
Brazil didn't let up in the second half, continuing to put pressure on Cameroon's defense. That pressure led to an early second-half goal from Fred, putting Brazil up 3-1. Cameroon could never come up with an answer, and thanks to another goal from Fernandinho, Brazil got the 4-1 win to take the top spot in Group A.
With the win, Brazil will now be preparing to take on Chile in the knockout stage. It won't be an easy match, but if Brazil can carry their momentum from this game against Cameroon and Neymar can keep getting good looks, they should be in great shape.
Mexico 3, Croatia 1
Coming in, both sides needed to play well in order to advance to the knockout stage, but Mexico only needed a draw to beat out Croatia for the second spot in Group A.
While the other Group A game featured plenty of scoring and shots at the goal in the first half, Croatia and Mexico got off to a slower start. Neither side was able to land a shot on goal in the first half, although Croatia did have six shot attempts to Mexico's three.
Tom Marshall from ESPN FC pointed out that while they weren't able to score in the first half, Mexico's midfield passing was helping open things up.
Beautiful move that from #MEX. Good passing in the midfield. Really opened Croatia up.— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) June 23, 2014
The second half was just as difficult for both sides as they tried to get on the board, but Mexico was finally able to answer in the 72nd minute, when Rafael Marquez was able to score and five his team the 1-0 lead. Shortly after that, Andres Guardado was able to come up with another goal just six minutes later, then Javier Hernandez scored seven minutes after that to help Mexico secure their eventual 3-1 win.
Croatia's lone goal came in the 87th minute from Ivan Perisic, but it was too little too late for them to mount a comeback.
The win helped Mexico secure the second spot in the knockout stage in Group A, but it wasn't all good for Mexico on Monday. After receiving his second yellow, Jose Vazquez will now miss the team's Round of 16 match against the Netherlands, according to Marshall.
Jose Juan Vazquez out if Mexico reach Round of 16.— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) June 23, 2014
Still, with two wins and a draw in group play, Mexico have definitely exceeded expectations so far. They'll have some work to do against the Netherlands, who won all three of their Group B matches, but even if they fall, it's hard to complain with how well they've played.
Netherlands 2, Chile 0
While both the Netherlands and Chile had already secured their spots in the knockout stage, their matchup between each other was for the top spot in Group B on Monday. With a more favorable matchup to start the knockout round up for grabs, both teams didn't let up during this game.
Before the match, Andrew Das from the New York Times had pointed out that the loser would most likely have to play the home team in Brazil in their first match of the knockout stage.
Netherlands-Chile is a massive third game. Loser probably gets Brazil in the second round.— Andrew Das (@AndrewDasNYT) June 18, 2014
Unfortunately for the Netherlands, they would be without one of their best players in Robin van Persie, who received his second yellow card and was therefore unable to play in Monday's match. Still, Van Persie just seemed happy before their match that the Netherlands are already through to the next stage.
“This squad is showing how great it is and that’s why I’m not thinking about that yellow card, nor that I could be suspended," Van Persie told David McDonnell from the Mirror on Sunday. “I just hope to play and be in the group, that’s the mentality of this squad.”
Neither side was able to get a single shot on target in the first half, but Chile dominated possession, having the ball for 73 percent of the time. However, the Netherlands were pretty aggressive defensively, recording 16 tackles to Chile's three.
Despite the opponents dominating possession in the first half, it was the Netherlands that were able to score the first goal of the game, even if it did come late. Coming off the bench, Leroy Fer scored a terrific header from a nice cross from Daryl Janmaat to put Holland ahead 1-0 in the 77th minute.
Leroy Fer header 1-0 Netherlands https://t.co/ExrrzFDFLT— gifdsports (@gifdsports) June 23, 2014
With the game nearing its conclusion, the Netherlands were able to score again in extra time. Arjen Robben found another substitute, with this goal coming from Memphis Depay. After that, the match was quickly over, and the Netherlands got the 2-0 win.
The Netherlands were able to fend Chile off, giving them their third straight to start this year's World Cup. It's been an incredible run for Holland, and with the win over Chile, they have officially secured the top spot in Group B. Chile would have liked a win as well, but they'll still be advancing to the knockout round, where they'll most likely be playing Brazil.
Spain 3, Australia 0
Both teams had already been eliminated before Monday, but that didn't meant that Spain and Australia wouldn't come out and try to at least get one win before heading home.
After struggling so much in their first two matches, Spain looked better on Monday, keeping Australia from getting shot opportunities and making the most of their own in the first half. Through the first 45 minutes, Spain allowed zero shots on goal while maintaining possession 58 percent of the time.
In the 36th minute, Spain were finally able to get on the board thanks to a beautiful goal from David Villa, who used his back heel to throw off the goalie and find the back of the net.
David Villa goal with his back heel Spain 1-0 https://t.co/5ZGcHG86wa— gifdsports (@gifdsports) June 23, 2014
According to ESPN Stats & Info, that was Villa's ninth career World Cup goal, which is the most ever from a Spain player.
Thanks to that goal and some solid defense, Spain had a 1-0 lead at half time.
For the first time in a World Cup match since 2006, Fernando Torres was able to find the back of the net in the second half, giving Spain a 2-0 lead in the 69th minute. Despite such a rough run in this year's World Cup, Spain looked like the team they were supposed to be against a weaker Australia squad.
Spain officially put the game out of reach thanks to Juan Mata's goal in the 82nd minute to go up 3-0, which was the final score by the end of the match. They were completely dominant, not allowing a single shot on goal from Australia, while Spain scored with three of their four shots on goal.
The win doesn't change the fact that they're still going home, but it was nice for the Spain players to at least depart after a very strong win.