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5 themes that are making this World Cup one of the best ever

| 02.07.2014

If you were to sit and write a list of every good moment that’s occurred in this World Cup you’d be set quite a time-consuming task, and we’re just past the last 16.

However, there have been a few themes running through the tournament that have contributed greatly to this being one of the best World Cup’s in recent memory. Here’s five of them:

Plucky underdogs

As we’ve reached the knockout stage, the underdogs have refused to clear an easy path through to the next round for their supposedly superior opponents.

Chile could have knocked the hosts out if it weren’t for the crossbar, while Algeria and Mexico gave Germany and Holland the fright of their respective lives.

Nigeria, Switzerland and USA can all fly home with heads held proudly high too and that’s without even mentioning underdog flag-bearers Costa Rica!

Keeper’s cup

This World Cup has been heralded as one of the most attacking and entertaining tournaments in history.

Well imagine what they’d be saying if the net-minders weren’t on such hot form.

Tim Howard was the latest stopper to impress, racking up a whopping 15 saves against the Red Devils in America’s 2-1 defeat to Belgium.

Endless star turns

Of the leading seven candidates to win the Golden Boot still playing in the competition, six are household names and the other is about to be.

James Rodriguez is currently leading the way but has Lionel Messi, Neymar, Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben, Karim Benzema and Robin van Persie all in hot pursuit.

It’s rare that so many leading lights shine in the same tournament, and this one has been so much better for it.

Extra-time drama

When a game goes to overtime in US sport, in the NBA for example, generally the fans react gleefully by shouting “free basketball”.

No World Cup can ever have seen so much free football as Brazil 2014, and entertaining free football at that.

Whatever happened to shutting up shop for fear of losing? Five of the eight knockout-stage games have at least gone to extra time so far, with seven goals scored in additional play.

USA youngsters

A slightly outside-the-box theme, but for a country that’s not meant to like football, USA have produced some talented youngsters.

Fabian Johnson was a left-field shout for right-back-of-the-tournament before his injury v Belgium, only to be replaced by a lightning fast DeAndre Yedlin, 20, who played to just as high a standard.

Then there’s Julian Green, the Bayern Munich 19-year-old, and John Brooks (21) who netted the dramatic late winner against Ghana. World champions 2022?

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.