From 64 teams and 62 matches, the 2014 FIFA World Cup is now down to two, Argentina and Germany. This World Cup has featured unlikely superstars like James Rodriguez and Guillermo Ochoa, a record number of goals, and a few Cinderellas that advanced further than anyone could have expected. With just one match (and a useless 3rd place game) to go, it’s time to take a look back on the six most unbelievable results of the 2014 World Cup.
6. Greece 2 Ivory Coast 1
In the final games of Group C play, it became apparent that the Greeks would have to defeat the Ivory Coast in order to move through to the Round of 16. The Ivory Coast was seeking its first trip to the knockout stages in the African country’s history. Just before half, Greece scored its first goal in 331 World Cup minutes. Out of the break, it always appeared Ivory Coast was ripe to equalize and rescue their dreams. In the 74th minute, they did just that as Wifried Bony struck and left the Greeks with one foot out the door. Miraculously, Greece was awarded a penalty kick deep into stoppage time, and Georgios Samaras banged it home. The Greeks had scored their second goal of the match equaling the total number of goals the nation had scored in its entire World Cup history. Greece went on to win, but were sent home by Costa Rica on penalties in the next round.
5. USA 2 Ghana 1
The Black Stars of Ghana had knocked the Americans out of back to back World Cups, and the opening game of the United States’ campaign appeared to be a must win with Portugal and Germany awaiting. Incredibly, the U.S. went ahead just seconds into the match when Clint Depsey took on a defender and slotted the ball off the post and in. The USMNT continued to attack until striker Jozy Altidore pulled up on what wound up being a strained hamstring. Forced to play the rest of the match without the star forward, the U.S. dropped into a defensive shell. They were able to hold Ghana out for 80+ minutes before André Ayew tied the match. A draw would not eliminate either side, but it would make the climb out of the “Group of Death” much more difficult. Then, in the 86th minute, one of the most improbable goal scorers in World Cup history, John Brooks, headed in a cross from Graham Zusi. Euphoria broke out across the entire United States as the Yanks had finally broken the hex of the Ghanians.
4. Chile 2 Spain 0
Coming off a disastrous opening match Spain could not lose again otherwise the defending champions would be heading home after just two matches. The Chileans had won their opening match against Australia, but expected a much taller task against Spain. Most thought the Spanish were an unbeatable side after they were embarrassed at the hands of the Netherlands just five days prior, but Chile was up to the task. Just 20 minutes into the match the Chileans broke through as Eduardo Vargas beat Iker Cassias to give Chile the 1-0 lead. A few minutes before half, the Chileans scored again and the defending champions were up against it. Spain couldn’t provide much in the second half and the defending champs, and two time defending European champions became the second team to be eliminated from the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
3. Netherlands 5 Spain 1
A rematch of the 2010 final the world looked to be in for a treat. Four years ago the match between the Dutch and Spain was a classic that was level until the final moments of overtime when the Spanish finally broke through and claimed the World Cup. Spain scored first in the match, but the champions campaign would be all downhill from there. An unbelievable diving header from Robin van Persie tied the match, and the Oranje went on to score four more in the second half to take control of Group B. It wasn’t a shock that Holland beat Spain, but the scoreline couldn’t have been predicted by even the biggest Dutch fan.
2. Costa Rica 1 Italy 0
The Ticos shocked the world when they knocked off a Luis Suárez-less Uruguay in their opening match, but the game against Italy seemed to be an even tougher task. Costa Rica was in the enviable position of knowing three points would automatically send them through to the Round of 16 with a game left to play. Costa Rica used an awesome header from captain Bryan Ruiz to score the game’s first goal. It appeared to be a shock to the system of the Azzurri but most thought the Italians would rebound out of half. The Costa Rican five man defense held strong for the entire second half and never really allowed Italy a great goal scoring chance. With the win, the Ticos were through to the Round of 16 for the first time since 1990 and were in position to win one a group in which they were the only team who had not previously won a World Cup.
1. Germany 7 Brazil 1
Brazil entered the match missing its eclectic scorer Neymar as well as its captain and key in central defense Thiago Silva. However, the host nation Brazilians had not lost on home soil in almost 40 years, and were still favored against Germany. The game started off with Brazil looking good in attack, but it all went down the drain the moment the Germans took control of possession. Germany scored its first goal just 11 minutes into the match when Thomas Müller knocked in a corner. Then, the flood gates opened. Germany scored it’s second goal just 12 minutes later and before the match had hit the half hour mark, it was 5-0 Germany. Brazil was out, and the game wasn’t even a third of the way gone. It was the largest margin of victory in the 2014 World Cup and will go down as one of the most shocking results in the history of the tournament.