FIFA 2014 World Cup: What we’ve learned so far

Even though they lost, England are a lot better than expected.

Even though they lost, England are a lot better than expected. England’s opening group game against Italy served as a taste of what to come in this tournament—youth, a bit of inexperience but a lot of ambition.

It was Raheem Sterling who spearheaded his side in the right direction. His youthfulness and blistering pace were a nightmare for Italy and he needs to emulate that throughout this tournament.

We’ve also learned that if you play Wayne Rooney on the left wing then you’re bound to get nothing out of him. The only thing of note he did throughout that match was provide a marvellous assist for Sturridge’s goal but that won’t be enough if he is to keep his place.

What England have come up with is certainly much better than anything they produced in South Africa four years ago. They’re an exciting team and it will be interesting to see how far they can go.

Lionel Messi doesn’t perform like Lionel Messi once expectation falls upon him.

We should have learned lessons from the 2013/14 La Liga season, the season where Messi matched his incredible 93 goals from the previous term with a meagre 36.

We’ve come to expect a lot from the Argentinean forward but in this World Cup match, he just couldn’t match up to the occasion.

Those watching were expecting to see a delightful master class were left bitterly disappointed as he was only able to overcome the Bosnian defence to score a goal that only went over the line through a deflection off the post. Improvement required when they face Iran on Saturday.

Netherlands are looking strong. Very strong.

I don’t think many of us were expecting them to conquer Spain the way they did last Friday’s match which was a repeat of the 2010 final.

Robin van Persie was a consistent threat throughout and he will be looking to continue this when they face a struggling Australia side on Wednesday.

Spain really failed to measure how much of a threat that Holland were going to be and stayed relatively laid back and let the Dutch walk all over them, which was very strange to see.

In some ways, their performance mirrored Brazil’s on Thursday but the poor quality of their playing style didn’t stop them from a rather convincing win against Croatia. This is a quality that Spain lack, even though the rest of the group games should be pretty straight forward for them they’re going to need to improve if they’re going to make it through into the last 16.

Early surprise packages? USA and Bosnia.

Although they have been placed in a rather difficult group alongside Ghana, Germany and Portugal, in their first game against the Africans they played really confidently and should they keep it up when they face a Portugal side that really struggled against Germany then I believe that they may have enough to squeeze a point out of it.

Another small advantage that they have in their game against Germany is that they’re coached by a very successful German who will understand what makes them tick and how to bring out their weaknesses. I’m not saying that this is a method that is likely to work but given what we saw against Ghana, I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave it a very good try.

As for Bosnia, although they lost their opening game to Argentina, they are still a lot of people’s favourites go far and it’s clear to see why. They refused to be bullied by a team who had a lot of expectation on their shoulders and went out there to really prove a point.

The next two teams that they will face in Group F are Iran and Nigeria who didn’t show any signs of creativity or attacking prowess in their stalemate against each other and I think Bosnia will have more than enough to easily get past them and progress into the last-16 of the tournament.

What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.