The buildup to the 2014 FIFA World Cup was marked with negative press and anxiety over the state of tournament. However, less than a week after the beginning of the tournament, fans all around the world have all but forgotten their trepidation as the tournament got off to an amazing start. The first round of matches has produced more goals, glory and drama than even the most optimistic supporter could have expected.
It has been a trend in modern soccer to emphasize defensive play over attacking – defense was the pride of the Italian champions from 2006, and Spain were the lowest-scoring World Cup champions ever in 2010. So far, the 2014 World Cup has bucked this trend completely. The first round has seen an astonishing 49 goals in 16 matches, the highest rate in decades. Only six teams failed to score in their first match.
Having lots of goals is not a guarantee for good games. However, the first matches of the World Cup have produced some truly fantastic results. Not even the most loyal Dutchman could have foreseen the Netherlands destroying Spain 5-1 – the biggest loss ever by a reigning World Cup champion. Lotto’s World Cup representative Costa Rica also shocked the world with a comprehensive 3-1 win over 2010 semifinalists Uruguay. And we here in the U.S. will not soon forget the dramatic 2-1 victory over nemesis Ghana to give us hope in the Group of Death.
The greatest moments in the World Cup are special because they are shared by the whole world simultaneously. The first round of matches is usually only a prelude to the drama of later games, but not this year. We already have a few moments that will live long in soccer fans’ memories. How about the shock of Croatia scoring the tournament’s first goal against the hosts? Arjen Robben’s amazing sprint from the halfway line for the fifth goal against Spain? Switzerland’s stunning counterattack goal to beat Ecuador in the last minute? American rookie John Brooks scoring the fairytale winner against Ghana?
It is fair to say that soccer fans around the world have been spoiled with the excitement of the 2014 World Cup so far. We at Lotto are keeping our fingers crossed for an equally entertaining second round of games.