Five things we learned from day three of the World Cup

Sports Mole looks at five talking points from the third day of the World Cup in Brazil.

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is already becoming one of the better ones in recent memory, just three days in. We have had controversy, drama, and a whole lot of goals in the opening three days, with plenty of surprises to boot.

Here, Sports Mole considers five of the talking points from what turned into a very exciting day three in Brazil.


1. A strong attack doesn't make a good team

Joel Campbell of Costa Rica celebrates scoring his team's first goal with the ball under his jersey as teammates Oscar Duarte and Michael Umana run on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Uruguay and Costa Rica at Castelao on June 1© Getty Images

It is just as well the game is not played on paper, or we might not have been treated to one of the biggest upsets in recent years in an international tournament. When Uruguay went 1-0 up against Costa Rica, only the most die-hard Los Ticos fan would have bet on them winning. Yet they did, and convincingly too.

Uruguay were tipped by most to top Group D, while Costa Rica were expected to finish bottom with zero points. Even without Luis Suarez, Uruguay could boast an attack including Edinson Cavani, Christian Stuani and Diego Forlan and, although the forwards combined well, it was at the back they fell apart, and disastrously so.

Essentially they could not deal with the pace of Joel Campbell, with the Arsenal man running riot, particularly in the second half. The warning signs were there early on as he shot just wide having not been closed down, yet he continued to be allowed the freedom of the pitch and punished Uruguay fully. There was a real lack of organisation, emphasised by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera's awful positioning, and they need to shape up if they are to get results against Italy and England, which are now needed.


2. High-ranked South American qualifiers are dangerous

Teofilo Gutierrez of Colombia and Cristian Zapata celebrate after the second goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Colombia and Greece at Estadio Mineirao on June 14, 2014© Getty Images

There were not a great deal of people prior to the World Cup tipping Colombia to go far, but that might have been short-sighted. Yes, Greece are unfancied, but to put three goals past them without your star player Radamel Falcao, who has not recovered from injury in time, will certainly make doubters sit up and notice. With Ivory Coast and Japan to come, Colombia have every chance of winning Group C and thus earning a more favourable draw.

Their strong performance, of course, should come as little surprise. This is a team who finished just two points behind Argentina in second in the CONMEBOL qualifiers with the fewest goals conceded. Against Greece they were expansive on the ball and were really able to make the most of their possession, with plenty of chances created.

Led by the experienced Jose Pekerman, Colombia for once have low expectations. They are usually put under incredible pressure by the fans and the home media, but Pekerman is a master of downplaying chances publicly while still getting the players up for the challenge. It would come as a surprise if either Ivory Coast or Japan are able to stop them topping the group.


3. There are no points for effort

 Manager Roy Hodgson of England looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between England and Italy at Arena Amazonia on June 14, 2014© Getty Images

Good England performances in international tournaments are almost fiction. It tends to be forgotten that the Three Lions can play well in the years between them actually proving it. Unfortunately, too, said good performances so often end in defeat. Think against Germany in 1996, Argentina in 1998 or Brazil in 2002 - England probably would have won all three if it was a judged contest, but on every occasion they ended on the losing side. Against Italy on day three, it was another heroic defeat for England.

Although they were happy to let Italy see a lot of the ball and play on the break, few can argue that the Three Lions deserved at least a point overall as they were on top for long spells. The important thing, however, is that they were unable to take advantage when they were knocking on the door, and this - as well as Italy's cutting edge - is what ultimately cost them in Manaus.

Both of Italy's goals came following spells of England pressure. Before the opener England had nearly taken the lead and Italy's defence was looking edgy, but the men in blue worked themselves back into the game and scored not long after. Again, at the start of the second half, England came out brightly before being undone by Mario Balotelli's header. England must learn that same clinical edge if they are to get out of the group.


4. You didn't write off Italy, did you?

Italy's forward Mario Balotelli celebrates with teammates after scoring during a Group D football match between England and Italy at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 14, 2014© Getty Images

Italy had a very disappointing couple of results in their World Cup warm-up matches, as they were unable to beat both the Republic of Ireland and Luxembourg at the end of May and start of June respectively. They were deemed to be in a crisis and in a bad state, with another two injuries just before the game against England.

However, this is Italy. Serial semi-finalists and even finalists at the World Cup for as long as anyone can remember. They have won the thing four times and success on the biggest stage is firmly ingrained in their DNA. While there was talk of England and Italy fighting out for second place in Group D behind Uruguay, realistically - and last night proved as much - the Italians will probably win it instead.

There were some less than impressive performances from some players, namely Giorgio Chiellini, but when a team includes the likes of Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings and Balotelli able to take his only chance of the match then you write them off at your peril. They defend doggedly and always have a creative midfield, and they will probably go very, very far once more.


5. Dismissing an underdog is silly

Oscar Duarte of Costa Rica celebrates after scoring his team's second goal past Fernando Muslera of Uruguay during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Uruguay and Costa Rica at Castelao on June 14, 2014© Getty Images

Each group has one or two teams who are not thought to have a chance, but yesterday showed that there are world-class players in every team who can have their day. Greece may have initially raised no eyebrows with a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Colombia, but Costa Rica later in the day reminded everyone that even the best sides must maintain full concentration throughout with their shock win against Uruguay.

On day four, Honduras get their chance in the limelight against the mighty France. It might well be a different kettle of fish entirely, but the French can learn a lot from Uruguay's capitulation at the back. If they are not careful then the likes of Carlo Costly, a tall, strong striker, could cause yet another upset at this most exciting of World Cups.

Joel Campbell of Costa Rica celebrates scoring his team's first goal with the ball under his jersey as teammates Oscar Duarte and Michael Umana run on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Uruguay and Costa Rica at Castelao on June 1
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