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Duarte: Dunga's return is complicated

Brazil Jul 21, 2014
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 Posted by Miguel Delaney
Jul 14, 2014

Expectations alter World Cup rankings

An exciting contest has sadly come to an end, so sit back and relive the best moments from this historic World Cup.

We now know the winners, we know where every team finished, and how their countries reacted, but what does that say about how they actually did? Who performed best relative to expectations and resources. Here, we offer alternative World Cup rankings, according to how satisfied each country should be with their tournament.

1. Costa Rica

What they wanted: A respectable group stage.
What was expected of them: A whitewash.
What they got: Their greatest ever World Cup and one of the great underdog stories.

2. Germany

What they wanted: A victory at last.
What was expected of them: A strong challenge for the trophy.
What they got: A victory 14 years in the making.

3. Netherlands

What they wanted: To get through the group.
What was expected of them: Potentially, a group-stage elimination.
What they got: A semifinal appearance and defiance of age and expectations.

4. Colombia

What they wanted: After the loss of Radamel Falcao, to get through the group.
What was expected of them: To reach the round of 16.
What they got: A quarterfinals appearance, their finest ever World Cup and all appropriately coming on the anniversary of the tragedy of 1994.

5. Argentina

What they wanted: At least the semifinals, after a wait of 24 years, and for Lionel Messi to replicate Diego Maradona.
What was expected of them: To reach the semifinals.
What they got: A narrow defeat in the final, and Messi replicating Maradona of 1990.

Lionel Messi couldn't quite replicate the magic of Maradona in 1986.

6. Algeria

What they wanted: A good group-stage showing.
What was expected of them: Early elimination, if not without some promise.
What they got: A revelation in getting to the round of 16 for the first time in their history and pushing the winners all the way.

7. Chile

What they wanted: To get through the group.
What was expected of them: A tight squeeze with Netherlands behind Spain.
What they got: An epic campaign that almost went beyond the fact that they only got to the second round. The defeat of Spain definitively ended an era for the deposed champions, and they took the hosts to the wire, bringing about the first signs that Brazil would collapse.

8. France

What they wanted: A bit of joy again.
What was expected of them: Anything and everything really, given the crossroads this team had been at just a few months beforehand.
What they got: A quarterfinal and, even though the manner of their defeat was dispiriting, it shouldn't overshadow a World Cup that restored some vitality to French football.

9. USA

What they wanted: To have a chance of getting through the group.
What was expected of them: To finish behind Germany, Portugal and Ghana.
What they got: A World Cup that became about more than where they actually finished, even though that was an excellent advancement to the knockout rounds. Sure, Jurgen Klinsmann rode a lot of luck and they arguably should have been badly beaten by Belgium, but that emotional defiance defined their campaign

10. Mexico

What they wanted: To recover from the near-disaster of qualification.
What was expected of them: A battle with Croatia to finish second behind Brazil.
What they got: Victory in that battle, and almost victory against both the hosts and the Dutch.

11. Belgium

What they wanted: To not collapse under the title of "dark horse."
What was expected of them: It depends who you listened to. A reasonable expectation was that a young team would at least get to the round of 16.
What they got: A quarterfinals appearance, but at the same time, an oddly underwhelming performance apart from one game.

Belgium's core of emerging young talents proved the Red Devils have much to look forward to in tournaments to come.

12. Nigeria

What they wanted: Advancement to the round of 16.
What was expected of them: A tough fight with Bosnia-Herzegovina to finish runners-up behind Argentina.
What they got: A trip to the knockout stages, and a bit of history -- they became the first African team to reach the second round three times, and Stephen Keshi also became the first African coach to reach the second round at all.

13. Greece

What they wanted: A chance of getting through.
What was expected of them: A likely elimination in the group stage.
What they got: Not a lot of admiration for their football, but an awful lot of respect for their progress, as they also reached the second round for the first time ever.

14. Ghana

What they wanted: To sneak into the round of 16 along with one of Portugal and Germany.
What was expected of them: A group-stage exit.
What they got: A lot of bad luck. They were the team whose end result was far from reflective of their talents and potential.

15. Iran

What they wanted: After the rigours of their preparation, some stability.
What was expected of them: To go out early and be well beaten.
What they got: Huge admiration, and accolades as potentially the best defensive unit in the competition.

16. Switzerland

What they wanted: To go some way to justify their seeded status.
What was expected of them: To show some bright play for the future.
What they got: One awful beating against France, but thereafter three solid showings with a lot of drama.

17. Uruguay

What they wanted: To oust one of England or Italy.
What was expected of them: Progress to the round of 16.
What they got: Exactly that, but accompanied by a hysterical reaction to the antics of Luis Suarez and subsequently a loss of some admiration for their achievement in getting through.

All team assessments

Group Stage: Australia | Bosnia-Herzegovina | Cameroon | Croatia | Ecuador | England | Ghana | Honduras | Italy | Iran
Ivory Coast Japan | Portugal | Russia | South Korea | Spain
Round of 16: Algeria | Chile | Greece | Mexico
Nigeria | Switzerland | Uruguay | United States
Quarterfinals: Colombia | France | Belgium | Costa Rica
Semifinals: Brazil | Netherlands
Finalists: Argentina
Winners: Germany

18. Ecuador

What they wanted: An outside chance of qualifying for the knockout rounds.
What was expected of them: Early elimination.
What they got: The former, but much more important, three formidable displays and a fitting tribute to the tragically departed Chucho Benitez.

19. Croatia

What they wanted: A place in the round of 16.
What was expected of them: A good chance of a last-16 place.
What they got: A tournament in which their goal looked very likely, right up until the moment it mattered. In that, despite two excellent displays, they let themselves down.

20. Australia

What they wanted: Not to be humiliated.
What was expected of them: To be humiliated.
What they got: Respect. They lost all of their games but came encouragingly close to results in the important first two against Chile and the Netherlands.

21. Ivory Coast

What they wanted: A first ever place in the round of 16.
What was expected of them: For a golden generation to finally deliver.
What they got: Another disappointment, but worse, dismal displays.

22. Bosnia-Herzegovina

What they wanted: To get through the group in their historic first World Cup.
What was expected of them: To come close to achieving that.
What they got: A bafflingly poor second game against Nigeria, which undid so much good work and prevented what could have been something special.

Edin Dzeko laments Bosnia's loss to Nigeria.

23. Honduras

What they wanted: A decent showing.
What was expected of them: To go out.
What they got: Bad beatings, but only after delivering a few kickings.

24. Japan

What they wanted: To be among the last 16.
What was expected of them: To at least suggest they could get close to that.
What they got: A hugely underwhelming fight for it. That they still had a chance of getting through in the third game was irrelevant, because they were destroyed.

25. South Korea

What they wanted: To qualify from their group.
What was expected of them: To at least fight hard with Russia and Belgium for a top-two spot.
What they got: A dismal campaign, and a thrashing in their most winnable match.

26. England

What they wanted: Hope for the future, but they still would have expected to get through.
What was expected of them: A place in the round of 16, at the very least.
What they got: Their worst World Cup campaign ever.

27. Russia

What they wanted: To qualify for the knockout stages, and suggest they're building for 2018.
What was expected of them: To get through to the round of 16.
What they got: A dire tournament and early elimination.

28. Brazil

What they wanted: To win the World Cup, and banish the demons of 1950.
What was expected of them: All of that.
What they got: A defeat even more haunting, and one that only compounds the curse of 1950.

David Luiz captained Brazil to perhaps the country's most haunting defeat in their 7-1 loss to Brazil in the semifinals.

29. Portugal

What they wanted: A statement tournament from both the team and Cristiano Ronaldo.
What was expected of them: A good showing, at least getting to the round of 16.
What they got: None of it, and a hugely disappointing display.

30. Italy

What they wanted: An outside chance of winning it all.
What was expected of them: An outside chance of winning it all.
What they got: Almost the complete opposite, as they went out in the first round.

31. Spain

What they wanted: More history, and a fourth successive major tournament crown.
What was expected of them: That depends on whom you listened to. The idea of a fatigued collapse was always there, but not one so bad, particularly when they still had so many players in their prime and notionally capable of winning it again.
What they got: Making history in the worst ever campaign from a defending champion.

32. Cameroon

What they wanted: To challenge Mexico and Croatia for second place in their group.
What was expected of them: A decent showing.
What they got: One of the worst World Cups by any squad ever, both on the pitch and off it.

Miguel Delaney

Miguel Delaney is London correspondent for ESPN and also writes for the Irish Examiner, the Independent, Blizzard and assorted others. He is the author of an award-nominated book on the Irish national team called 'Stuttgart to Saipan' (Mentor) and was nominated for Irish sports journalist of the year in 2011.