Four of the sixteen are in, four more out. Lots of drama even if some of the football was a little stinky.
Brazil and Colombia · So the hosts got (just barely) past Chile. At this point, I’ll honestly be surprised if they get past Colombia, and if they do, they’ll be crushed by whichever of France or Germany emerges from that side of the bracket. Neymar and Oscar? They aren’t, and the defense is frankly porous. I suppose the result’s qualitatively fair in that neither team really dominated the other, but I felt awfully bad for Chile. And the shootout itself was sort of lacklustre, what with shots wide of the goal and straight at the keeper.
Colombia’s disposal of Uruguay (which I didn’t see) was the only real no-surprise-here Day 1 result.
Netherlands and Costa Rica · I was emotionally OK with either the Dutch or the Mexicans advancing here, but I wish it’d been decided a little more cleanly. I think the Mexican exit robs the tournament of its single most impressive defense, which is good for us spectators; but still, I wish the brackets had let them go deeper.
I guess I’ve been underestimating the Greeks; their game may be slow and ugly but they’ve managed to make some really good teams (in which I include the Ticos) look bad. Whatever, good riddance to ’em. And you can sneer at shootouts all you want, but Navas’ save at 1:25 in this highlights video is one for the ages. Anyhow, I wish the Ticos luck against Holland; they’ll need it.
Did Robben Dive? · Well, it’s complicated. Go look at the video in this BusinessInsider write-up. Really, go look. So, it’s like this:
Robben turns in from the baseline.
Marquez steps on Robben’s left foot with his right foot. That’s a foul; it’s gonna get called every time, assuming the ref sees it.
Robben goes into full-extension dive mode, soles of both boots pointed at the sky.
The question I have is: Could Robben have got his right foot planted again and kept moving? If so, did he make a decision that going for the penalty was a better bet than driving on with the ball? Or was he gonna faceplant anyhow after he got stepped on; and just dressed it up a bit?
The answers have ethical import and highlight a big problem in FIFA-regime football. Not just the diving-and-simulating problem, but the extreme lack of punishment granularity; is there a way to disincent fouls in the box without offering the other side a nearly-certain goal?
Having said that: If Robben gets loose with the ball in your penalty area, bad things are gonna happen.
Going forward, on this side of the bracket, I suspect Costa Rican pluck won’t get them past the Dutch and win them the right to face the dreaded Messi posse; which constitutes a prediction about that side too.