26        Englandmisery

WhilstAmerica was revelling in its new found ability at Football, England were hardlyhaving a whale of a time. Slender 2-1 defeats to Uruguay and Italy left Englanddumped out of the competition by Costa Rica’s 1-0 win over Italy. Not since1958 had England bowed out of the group stage and the first time without a wintoo. Cheer up; they won it eight years after that!

25 CameroonianMatch-fixing

Aftertheir brief stay in Brazil, Cameroon were subsequently subjected tomatch-fixing allegations as their football federation, Fecafoot, had confirmedthey were investigating seven players who were involved during their threegames in Brazil.

A convicted match fixer correctly predicted the outcome of oneof their results.

24 DiegoCosta fights the world

DiegoCosta, with his brand new nation of Spain took to the field against theNetherlands in their opening match. Cue a series of boos from the Brazilianpublic who felt betrayed by Costa’s nationality switch; he also headbutted BrunoMartins Indi in yet another scuffle.

23 RaheemSterling goal

3 minutesin and England began brightly against Italy in their first game of the WorldCup, Raheem Sterling shoots from 25 yards out, rippling the top corner of thenet.

The ‘goal’ banner from the BBC shoots up and England made an amazing startto the tournament. Cut to frantic celebrations up and down the country, onlyfor a minute later the goal to be wiped out because it “didn’t go in.” Englandlose 2-1.

22 LionelMessi shines at last?

The groupswere hardly a tough time for the Argentine squad, beating Iran, Nigeria andBosnia to get through. They didn’t set the world alight with their brilliancein one-goal wins against some of the tournament’s minnows. One person did dragthem through into the second round though, it was Lionel Messi.

The 4-timeBallon d’Or winner infamously did nothing in South Africa, only to return toBrazil by scoring four in three group games.

21 GuillermoOchoa v Brazil

The twofavourites for Group A met in the second tie in the group. A defensive five ofMexico along with a free agent in net shouldn’t have been too much of a problemfor Neymar and co. However, a string of fine save after fine save helped Mexicohold Brazil to a 0-0 draw and instantly excite the British press of a potentialmove for the Mexican goalkeeper to Anfield and the Emirates.

20 Bignames crash out early

A WorldCup comes around once in a while where the big names fail to live up to theirbilling. 2002 saw Argentina, Portugal and France crash out at the groups whilstHolland didn’t even make it to the tournament. This time, however, the reigningchampions became the fourth nation behind Brazil (1966), France (2002) andItaly (1950 & 2010) to crash out at the groups after lifting the trophy.Portugal couldn’t beat America whilst Italy were eliminated at the groups forthe second successive tournament, alongside England.

19 Neymar’sinjury

Neymar’sspinal bones are to Brazilians as the metatarsal bone is to England fans. 2-1 upin a quarter final with Colombia, Juan Zuniga inexplicably ended the posterboy’s tournament with a savage knee in the back. The melodrama ensued as atearful Neymar was fearful for his career and thanking God that he can stillwalk. Sensationally, Scolari told the media that if Zuniga would’ve kneedNeymar two centimetres higher he would have been paralysed.

18 Dutchcomeback v Mexico

Not evenmaking the Netherlands’ top three moments in the World Cup was their secondround comeback against Mexico.

They had trailed through a second half Giovanidos Santos goal and with two minutes remaining the game was turned on itsheader by a Wesley Sneijder goal and a Klaas-Jan Huntelaar penalty. Louis vanGaal had almost manufactured the Manchester United comeback against BayernMunich in 1999 just weeks before starting in his new role at Old Trafford.

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