by Andrew Baxter
The 2014 World Cup so far has already seen goals galore, upsets, and a Luis Suarez bite, with the knockout stages of the competition promising to provide even more excitement.
Whilst it may not have been a good tournament for England, Italy, or Portugal, there are other countries who have impressed so far, and qualified for the later stages of the World Cup.
Chile were fantastic in a tough group, beating defending champions Spain 2-0 in what was, quite frankly, a one-sided match. However, they have a tough last-16 fixture, playing against hosts, and favourites Brazil. The hosts haven’t really got going so far in this tournament, however, barring a strong second half against Cameroon, and if Chile’s Alexis Sanchez is on form, he could expose the Brazil defence, which is prone to making mistakes.
Another side to have impressed is Algeria. They’ve made the knockout rounds for the first time in their history, finishing second in Group H, behind Belgium. Their hopes lie with Spurs midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, with the 19-year-old midfielder playing consistently, and improving all the time. A tricky tie against a very strong German side in the last 16, however, may be too much for Algeria, with the Germans looking impressive in their group, with Thomas Muller in particular performing very well.
Costa Rica have also played very well, finishing unbeaten in a tricky group, with wins over Italy and Uruguay, and a draw against England. Rank outsiders to qualify at the start of the tournament, Costa Rica have surprised many, with Joel Campbell impressing. A fixture against Greece awaits them in the last 16, but with their current form and confidence, they surely start as favourites for this game.
With all three sides in good form, it certainly makes for an intriguing knockout stage, and one certainly worth watching.