France had knocked out Argentina in a thrilling and entertaining 4-3 win, Uruguay Edison Cavani had displayed to the world why he is one of the best strikers in the world when his 2 goals had eliminated Portugal, Russia had spanked the Spanish Armada via penalties, and finally, Croatia had knocked out Denmark also via penalties. The next 4 team will complete the quarter-final fixtures and 4 teams will be eliminated from the competition. For now, only 2 quarterfinal games had been decided where Uruguay will meet France and Russia will play against Croatia. Now, Brazil had booked their place in the quarter-final after beating Mexico and now they are waiting for the winner form the Belgium and Japan games.
They are some eyebrow raised when Russia had knocked out Spain and expected results had happened when Argentina and Portugal had been eliminated. Argentina was nearly been eliminated in the group stages before a fine volley in the last minute from Marcos Rojo had saved them and Portugal also nearly been eliminated in the final group game against Iran if not for the poor finishing from Iranian player in the final minutes.
The legend and potential winner will be determined in the knockout stage and the performance in the group stages can’t be used anymore. The best example is Italy in 1982 where they had somehow scraped through form the group stages and was drawn against Argentina and Brazil in the next round. In 1982 the second round is basically a group format of 3 teams which the winner will progress to the semi-final. Italy was predicted to be doomed but a win against Argentina and a famous win against Brazil with an all-time classic hattrick by Paolo Rossi had made Italy progressed to the semi-final where the positive momentum that they had gained from the group stages had been used effectively where Rossi again become the deciding factor where they had beaten Poland 2-0 and had been crowned the champion when they had beaten West Germany in the final. Paolo Rossi becomes the top scorer in that year World Cup with 6 goals.
The team that had progressed to the second-round knockout stages can’t be considered a walkover as they more than capable to deliver some shocking results in the knockout stages. In 1990 World Cup quarter-final, England had been drawn against Cameroon and thing is looking going according to the plan where they are leading 1-0. But Cameron in 1990 was a different team and with the evergreen striker Roger Milla scoring 2 goals in the second half England are looking to the heading out with what is considered an embarrassing defeat to an African team. Only 2 penalties from the Gary Lineker had saved them from a quarterfinal elimination against an African team.
Where Cameron had nearly knockout out England, another team from different continent had done the unthinkable. In the 2002 World Cup, South Korea had eliminated Italy via a golden goal and eliminate Spain in the quarter-final to become the first team from Asia to reach the semi-final. They had become the first team outside of Europe and South America to reach the semi-final stages. And in the current World Cup, Russia had eliminated Spain via a penalties shootout. The underdog team is more than capable to give a big scare to the big team and eliminating them from the World Cup.
In the knockout stages, a small mistake from the players and referee can provide a crucial turning point for the team. In the 2010 World Cup, German had inflicted the biggest defeat for England in the World Cup when they had defeated the English team with a score line of 4-1. However, the score may be different if the referee does not disallow Frank Lampard legitimate goals. England was trailing 2-1 during these times and if Frank Lampard goals had been given then the score will be back to 2-2 and England will be back on the game. Due to this referee error, England needs to chase the game and German with their speed in the transition from defense to attack had hit England in counter-attack and England were eliminated.
The referee had made mistake in the second round and in the 2010 World Cup quarter-final stages between Ghana and Uruguay saws Ghana had blown a great chance. In the final minutes of the extra time in these game, Luis Suarez had made his own Hand of God however he was punished by the referee with a red card and Ghana was awarded a penalty what looked like to be the final kick. Up step Asamoah Gyan to made history and making Ghana become the first African team to reach the semi-final. However, he had struck his penalties so hard with the unpredictable Jabulani ball and the ball had hit the upper post and Ghana great chance had been blown away. In the end, Uruguay had defeated Ghana via penalties and progressed to the semi-final stages. A simple error from the referee and player can provide costly for the player and the team.
When comes the knockout stages if the scored had been the same until the extra time then the dreaded penalty shootout will be used to the decide the outcome. Fortunately, in the current World Cup, 2 of the best penalty shootout team had been eliminated early Argentina and German. Argentina is the second-best team when comes to the penalty shootout as they had lost only once in the penalty shootout and the 1 lost is inflicted by the German team in 2006 World Cup quarter-final. As for the best record, it is still under the German as they had never lost a shootout in the World Cup.
The team that might have a phobia with penalties is none other than England who is meeting Colombia in the second round. If the penalty shootout is used to decide the game, then England fans may need to worry about it as England had the worst record among all the team in the penalty shootout as they never had won a penalty shootout in the World Cup. Ironically the South Korea team had a better record than England when comes to a penalty shootout as they had won a penalty shootout in the World Cup.
However, the penalty shootout duck can be broken as it had happened to Italy in 2006 World Cup final. Italy is facing France and both team unable to find a winner in the final and the penalties had been used. When comparing the record between Italy and France, France had a better record as they had won the shootout before. Italy had contested in 4 penalties shootout, the first in 1990 semi-final against Argentina, 1994 final against Brazil and 1998 quarter-final against France. Each time they had lost the shootout however in 2006 final, Italy had broken the penalties shootout dismal record and beat France to become the World Champion for the 4th time. In the sense, every bad record can change.
The knockout stages of the World cup where player hit the form at the right time as Rossi did it in the 1982 World Cup, referee terrible mistake deciding the game like in 1986 and 2010, player blowing away their golden chance like happen in 2010 for Ghana, underdog make some shocking results like South Korea did in 2002 and team determine to erase the bad record in penalties like Italy in 2006. The knockout stage will provide some classic moment and unforgettable moment in each World Cup and some classic moment also can happen in the current World Cup too.