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How good is France? Messi in action, the Bite heard round the world: World Cup 2014 Day 14 Open Thread

Spain: Out. Italy: Out. England: Out. What a world cup this has been as many small countries move on, superpowers go down, France is returning to top form, and the U.S. is well placed to move on. Four more teams will advance today to the knockout round.

 Karim Benzema of France celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal past goalkeeper Diego Benaglio of Switzerland  on June 20, 2014 .
Karim Benzema of France celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal past goalkeeper Diego Benaglio of Switzerland on June 20, 2014 .
Christopher Lee

While France has been dominating its opponents, three other superpowers of the beautiful game are out of the World Cup.  Instead of England and Italy advancing from group D; Costa Rica and Uruguay qualify for the knockout round. Reigning champion, Spain is out while Chile moves on from group B.  Latin America is moving along (all teams have advanced so far), while the last two world cup champions from Europe are going home.  Uruguay advanced by beating Italy (with a draw Italy would have advanced), but not without incident.  Uruguay player Luis Suarez bit an Italian player in the last minutes of the match and received no card.  Italy was already down a man and it appeared that Suarez should have been out at this point, evening things up.  But he stayed in and Uruguay went on to score a goal to take the match 1-0.  This is not the first time Suarez has bitten a player, but the third and he has been called the cannibal.  Will Suarez be able to continue to play after this shameful behavior?

Our own Sydney Leroux said it best:

In group C, Cote d'Ivoire lost the chance to move on in a cruel, 92nd minute penalty kick by Greece.  As heart breaking as that over time goal was for us, this was just very difficult to watch.  As a result, Greece will be moving on to play Costa Rica while Columbia will take on Uruguay.

It's Wednesday, day 14 of the World Cup and so far Brazil, Mexico (yeah!), the Netherlands, Chile, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Columbia, Argentina, Belgium, and Greece have qualified for the knockout round.    We will have to wait until tomorrow's huge game against Germany to know if the U.S. team will advance.  There has been some remarkable play on the U.S. side, and some mistakes, but it all comes down to what our men can do against Germany!  Germany and the U.S. can each ensure they qualify by playing to a draw, and there is speculation they will purposely do just that.  Personally, I want to see team U.S.A. take the Germans down.  (If you are in L.A. you might want to go to a viewing party being hosted by the L.A. Galaxy to watch with other rabid fans!)  While I am excited about tomorrow, I am a long-time fan of Les Bleus, and have been loving their exciting play in this cup, and look forward to getting to watch them again today.

Today, groups E and F play to see which teams advance to the knockout stage which begins on Saturday.  At 9am (pst), group F games will take place: Nigeria vs. Argentina on ESPN and Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran on ESPN2.  Group E games:  France vs Equador (ESPN) and Honduras vs. Bosnia-Hercegovina (ESPN2) will be played at 1 pm (pst).

Group F:

Argentina is already through to the second round and a tie with Nigeria wins them the group and puts Nigeria in second place to qualify for the next round.  If Nigeria defeats Argentina they will top the group.  Iran could still qualify if they beat Bosnia-Hercegovina and Argentina beats Nigeria by a large enough margin that Iran's goal total passes Nigeria's.  BH cannot qualify.

Group E:

At 1 pm, the French take on Equador on ESPN and Honduras meets Switzerland on ESPN2.  France has been playing really quality soccer having recovered from the joke they made of themselves four years ago, and have all but won the group. They have the largest goal difference in the cup (6) and have been having a lot of fun out there scoring and nearly scoring almost at ease.  Only a big defeat by Equador and a large winning margin by the Swiss over Honduras would knock them out of qualifying to the next round.  Honduras has zero points, but mathematically could advance with a victory over Switzerland and France defeating Equador by a large margin.  Should Equador win they will advance unless Switzerland beats Honduras by more than two points.  Switzerland will qualify if France wins and they tie or beat Honduras.

I was in France for the last two world cups.  The embarrassment of the 2010 was nothing to remember.  However, the amazing run of France in 2006, sadly losing to Italy in the final game left me forever a fan of Les Bleus.  Sitting in small village squares and in living rooms with families cheering on the French team, well, I will never forget it.  And of course there was 1998 (Zidane and Ronaldo).

So, yes I will wear my Zidane jersey today.  Allez les Bleus!

But tomorrow:  USA  USA  USA  USA

Folks have started sharing information about watch parties for USA vs Germany here.


P.S.  It seems some coaches recognize when they are not bringing the kind of excellence to a team that is expected and take real responsibility for the program falling short.  After Italy failed to reach the knockout round, their coach, Cesare Prandelli resigned stating:

"Above and beyond, at the end of the match, I spoke to the president of the federation, and because the technical plan is under my responsibility, I have told them that I am going to resign from my position because when the technical plan and strategy fails, it is only fair for the person in question to take responsibility,"

The Coach of Cote d'Ivoire also stepped down after his team was defeated.  Again, in a classy statement Sabri Lamouchi said:

"I have put a lot of time and effort into the past two years, but unfortunately my story with Cote d'Ivoire ends this evening," he said.
"The outcome is a cruel one but the Greeks did not steal this victory."
"I am very disappointed and sad, and also for the players and the Ivorian people."

I wonder why TIARA and Dan, can't see the writing on the wall and do the honorable thing as well.