What the didn't world see coming, what isn't a surprise
Follow the 2010 World Cup with the UCSB men's and women's soccer programs all tournament long on UCSBgauchos.com. "South Africa to Santa Barbara: The Cup is Coming" will provide daily commentary on the day's biggest storylines, featuring video interviews with Gaucho soccer players and head coaches Tim Vom Steeg and Paul Stumpf.
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In the world of sports, hours upon hours are devoted to predicting winners, analyzing who is the best and debating the finer points of why the teams we are cheering for will be the last standing.
Part of what makes following sports so thrilling though, is the knowledge that when the players take to the pitch, court or pool, the score is 0-0 and it becomes anyone's game to win. Sometimes the outcome is exactly as predicted, but when teams don't perform as predicted, we often witness some of the greatest and worst moments in sports history.
At the 2010 World Cup, some teams are living up to expectations and others are exceeding what the world thought they were capable of. On the flip side, some teams have been shocking due to incredibly underwhelming performances.
Speaking of underwhelming, two of the biggest shocks of the World Cup to this point were the failures of both France and Italy to advance out of group play. The two teams that battled in the 2006 World Cup title game earned just three points combined and neither posted a win. Let's not even get into the French's off-the-field antics.
"They didn't meet expectations, whatsoever," senior Michael Boxall rather succinctly summed it up.
While it's not surprising that a South American country would advance to the quarterfinals, after all, who can claim to be shocked that Brazil or Argentina have had strong performances? The number of South American countries that have advanced, however, is surprising. The fact that four (Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina) of the eight teams remaining are not just from the same continent, but also border each other, is not just shocking, it's downright impressive.
It is a real possibility that there could be an all-South American semifinals, which would mark the first time a World Cup semifinal didn't include a European team. Now that would be shocking!
The sides that have lived up to the hype include Brazil, Netherlands and Germany. They may not be posting surprising results, but they certainly are posting exciting ones. All three teams won their groups and sailed through the second round with convincing wins.
With eight matches remaining in the 2010 World Cup, there is plenty of time for more surprises. Could Ghana become the first African team to reach the semifinals, or even the title game? Will there be a South American only semifinal? Will we have a first-time winner in the Netherlands, Paraguay or Spain? That's the beauty of sports, we will have to watch and see.
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