The first round of group stage matches in the 2014 FIFA World Cup have been completed and once the dust has settled, several teams find themselves already in dire straits this early in the competition with do-or-die matches coming up. Revenge, vindication, second chances and breakthroughs were the name of the game but heartbreak was also rampant all around.
The opening match between host country Brazil and Croatia was won by Brazil to the delight of millions of home fans but not without controversy. Post-match comments were centred on the Japanese referee who many believe did a less than stellar job officiating the game.
Goup B had one of the most anticipated match ups in the first round with defending champions Spain going up 2010 runners-up Netherlands. The Dutch have been waiting for four years to exact revenge on La Furia Roja and that was exactly what they did. A 5-1 thrashing of the holders took place and the Dutch now sit on top of the group with Chile whom the Spaniard must beat on Wednesday to have any chance of continuing their title defence.
Colombia also stepped all over the only European team in their group with a 3-0 score line over Greece. Meanwhile in Group D, another tournament favourite fell unexpectedly in the early stages as Uruguay conceded 1-3 to Costa Rica. England lost 1-2 to an Italian team that looked strong and could possibly emerge as a dark horse for the tournament.
To the dismay of South American fans, France also walked all over Honduras 3-0 while Switzerland defeated Ecuador 2-1.
All Brazilian eyes were on archrivals Argentina who took on Bosnia in their first match and Lionel Messi delivered the goods helping his team claim their three points. The first draw of the tournament came with Iran and Nigeria finishing scoreless.
Portugal had high hopes resting on their Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronald but Germany would have none of it. The Germans effectively neutralized Ronaldo and completely out-classed a 10-man Portuguese team after Pepe was sent off due to a poorly-judged head butt on Thomas Mueller early in the game. The match ended with Germany on top, 4-0.
USA was another team looking for revenge and they got the same as they defeated Ghana, the team that took them out in 2010.
Belgium scraped past Algeria 2-1 perhaps less convincingly as they should have while Korea and Russia ended the first round of matches with a draw.
At this point, Spain, Portugal, Uruguay and England are some of the top teams that find themselves in precarious situations with nothing to show for their first round efforts.