Costa Rica showing Brazil how to samba

Costa Rica's Yeltsin Tejeda (L) and Patrick Pemberton celebrate defeating Italy in their 2014 World...

Costa Rica's Yeltsin Tejeda (L) and Patrick Pemberton celebrate defeating Italy in their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Pernambuco arena in Recife June 20, 2014. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:08 PM ET

Rio de Janeiro— After 10 days of play, the team that has shown no visible signs of any weakness in the World Cup is . . . Costa Rica.

Tell me you expected to hear that before the tournament started.

Costa Rica has beaten two solid teams and looked terrific doing it. They’ve shown no holes and no weakness. That’s the end of that story.

Will it continue?

No it won’t, because if it does it would be the biggest shock in World Cup history.

The shock in this tournament comes from everyone else beneath the Central American nation.

Every pre-tournament favourite has shown weakness in their games, some alarmingly so.

The pre-tournament favourite and the one team that wanted to play entertaining, dramatic soccer have done just the opposite. Brazil is one of the least entertaining teams in this tournament.

One player has stood out and played as if he has not one wick of pressure on him and that’s Neymar.

But what he’s done, he’s done on his own. As incredible as it seems, Brazil has been horrid creating chances. The inventors of flowing, full-field soccer has not shown any imagination. That’s like Brazilians forgetting how to samba.

The good teams will stifle Neymar and without any other creative thinking, the goals won’t come.

It’s a hot topic of conversation in Brazil, where the only way South Americans want to see their soccer played is sideline-to-sideline and end-to-end.

Argentina has been frightfully pedantic. They don’t appear to have anyone else other than Lionel Messi who can score. He delivered them from an embarrassment against Iran with a magical strike.

But it isn’t only the lack of scoring that’s at issue with the Albiceleste. They haven’t exactly played teams who could score like Hungary’s ‘Magical Magyars’ and yet they’ve given up too many quality chances against weaker opponents.

As for Germany they have been scoring goals without issue but coach Joachim Loew must be having nightmares about his defending. Portugal played with 10-men but still created chances.

Ghana scored twice and might well have had another two or three.

Germany has a plethora of scorers to help them out of tight situations but as the World Cup progresses, scoring two or three goals becomes problematic. You also don’t want to be giving up those scoring chances to better finishers.

Holland may be the best situated of all the challengers. Robin Van Persie can always score but in major tournaments he’s lost confidence when the ball didn’t go into the net. After scoring in the first game against Portugal, Van Persie believes he can dominate this time around.

Holland’s weakness is their tendency to lose focus and lose control. They are a very physical team that can get in trouble with a referee.

Van Persie won’t play against Chile, a game for first place in the group and most likely a chance to avoid Brazil in the next round, because of accumulation of yellow cards.

The other wart on Holland’s resume is the fact they’ve never been able to complete the run to the World Cup trophy presentation. The Dutch have reached the round of 16 in seven-of-the-past-eight World Cups but have never won a championship.

They’ve lost the final three times.

It is also an aging team that may be affected by heat and a grinding schedule as the tournament goes on.

Some may consider Chile and Colombia contenders for the title. Their issues are not with what they can do up front but with what they can’t do at the back and neither Chile nor Colombia have had to play under the pressure of a World Cup run in recent years.

There is no perfect team. The winning team will be the one that finds a way to overcome their weaknesses.


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