The group stages of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil are all done and dusted with the last 16 teams confirmed and some major early casualties sent packing.
The last round of results in Brazil saw few major shocks—Greece's victory over Ivory Coast perhaps the most significant—with most of the major moves made in the opening games.
The hosts made it through in style, as did the Netherlands and Argentina, while Costa Rica surprised many in topping a very tough Group D.
Read on for updated group standings, final scores from the latest round of group matches and a look ahead at the teams that could potentially go furthest in South America.
|World Cup 2014: Final Group Standings|
|World Cup 2014: Final Group Stage Results|
|A||Cameroon vs. Brazil||1-4|
|A||Croatia vs. Mexico||1-3|
|B||Australia vs. Spain||0-3|
|B||Netherlands vs. Chile||2-0|
|C||Japan vs. Colombia||1-4|
|C||Greece vs. Ivory Coast||2-1|
|D||Italy vs. Uruguay||0-1|
|D||England vs. Costa Rica||0-0|
|E||Honduras vs. Switzerland||0-3|
|E||Ecuador vs. France||0-0|
|F||Nigeria vs. Argentina||2-3|
|F||Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran||3-1|
|G||USA vs. Germany||0-1|
|G||Portugal vs. Ghana||2-1|
|H||South Korea vs. Belgium||0-1|
|H||Algeria vs. Russia||1-1|
One of the most startling things about the group stages were the number of major European teams who made early and ignominious exits.
Reigning world champions Spain were categorically outplayed by both the Netherlands and Chile as they crashed out of Group B in catastrophic style.
England were ousted from Group D after losses to Italy and Uruguay as the Three Lions failed to impress in almost any aspect of their game, a supreme lack of defensive solidity key in seeing them ejected.
While the Azzurri managed an opening win over England, they went on to lose to both Costa Rica and Uruguay as they exited at the group stages for the second successive tournament since winning the 2006 World Cup.
The absence of any of these three teams in the knockout stages is a phenomenon not seen for 40 years, per ESPN's Paul Carr:
Further to these former European World Cup winners, fancied sides such as Croatia, Portugal and Russia also failed to impress, making it a very poor tournament for UEFA teams.
However, the likes of the Netherlands and Germany looked good as they qualified from their groups and may be in with a shout of breaking the European duck in South American World Cups.
Fight to the Finish
With the niceties of the group stages out of the way, the cut-throat nature of the knockout rounds looms into view. One defeat is now enough to send nations out of the World Cup as the competition is whittled down in pursuit of an eventual winner.
Louis van Gaal's Netherlands side—un-fancied pre-tournament—look to have one of the easier runs to the latter stages, with a likely quarter-final against Costa Rica should they see off Mexico in the last 16.
Assuming Dutch victory, then, Netherlands would hypothetically face Argentina in the semi-finals if Lionel Messi et al can get past Switzerland and then either Belgium or the USA—which they should do.
Argentina would pose a serious threat in the Netherlands' path to the final, but they proved in their 5-1 mauling of Spain they have the talent in the likes of Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie to take on the best.
The Oranje will be looking to go one further than their final berth in 2010 and they certainly look to have a realistic chance when examining the bracket.
The other side of the draw sees hosts Brazil face a tough challenge in their pursuit of victory. Chile have looked a strong side so far in the tournament, so simply making it to the last eight will be a challenge for Luiz Felipe Scoalri's side.
Their quarter-final opponents will likely be Colombia and that could spell the end of the competition for Brazil as Los Cafeteros have lit up this World Cup so far with their attacking style.
However, should Brazil make it past Colombia, they will then potentially face a strong German side in the last four.
It's almost impossible to choose a winner from the pool of talent in the last 16 but Brazil, Netherlands, Argentina and Germany look good for semi-final spots.
Once it gets to that stage it is as much down to form on the day as quality of squad. The Netherlands and Germany are in danger of burning out after flying starts, but should they maintain their level, they pose a major threat to a South American victor in Brazil.
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