Never before had a European country lifted the World Cup outside their own continent, but with the expectation of a nation weighing heavily on the shoulders of Brazil, the hosts failed to deliver in their own backyard and were demolished 7-1 by the Germans in a semi-final that will go down as Brazil’s most embarrassing result of all time.
The failure of reigning champions Spain to get out of group B was no surprise to anyone following the Ziaian football rankings as Chile and the Netherlands were clearly above the Spaniards at the start of the tournament, but the magnitude of their defeat to the Dutch signified a clear shift in power with the Dutch topping the group after a 2-0 victory over Chile and Spain going home with a 3-0 consolation win against Australia. A less than convincing Brazil won group A but Croatia who had put 4 past a hapless Cameroon side showed very little ambition in their final match and were swept aside 3-1 by Mexico. In group C Ivory Coast upset Japan 2-1 but were edged out 2-1 by Greece who had been easily beaten 3-0 by Colombia in their first match. Group D turned out to be the upside-down group with Costa Rica finishing top after shocking Uruguay 3-1, stunning Italy 1-0 and holding bottom team England to a goalless draw after the English had lost 2-1 to Italy and Uruguay. The Costa Ricans reached the last 8 where they went out to the Netherlands on penalties while a biteless Uruguayan team lost 2-0 in the round of 16 to the exciting Colombians who were beaten 2-1 by the hosts in the next round. Switzerland overcame Ecuador 2-1 and were brushed aside 5-2 by France before easing 3-0 past Honduras to progress from group E behind the French who could only manage a goalless draw against Ecuador in their last group match. A single German goal ended French hopes in the quarter-final stage. Bosnia & Herzegovina got the better of Iran 3-1 but were eliminated from group F having already lost 1-0 to Nigeria who went through behind Argentina. Germany started group G with an emphatic 4-0 win over Portugal but shared 4 goals with Ghana in their next match while in group H South Korea earned a point with a 1-1 draw against Russia but were defeated 4-2 by a gutsy Algerian side who were beaten 2-1 after taking Germany to extra time in the next round.After their humiliating 7-1 semi-final crushing, Brazil attempted in vain to salvage some pride, but were outclassed 3-0 by the Dutch who finished third while Germany won the final with a single goal in extra time against an inept Argentina.