The Early Exiters

Each World Cup, a few teams surprise us with just how bad they perform. Maura Gladys profiles this years subpar performers.

It has to happen. As some countries surge through the group stage, carried by unexpected results, inspirational fans, and a swelling feeling of hope, others see their World Cup dreams crash to earth before they even get a chance to take off.

This is the beauty of the World Cup meltdown. Some are understated, like Spain’s whimper of an effort against the Netherlands and Chile. Others are explosive, like Cameroon’s aggressive internal bust up. And others are entirely and subconsciously expected. Cough cough England. While nothing can rival France’s deliciously explosive meltdown 4 years ago, we’ve been treated to some pretty special implosions this year. Here now, the best early exists of the 2014 World Cup.

Spain- One of the favorites going into the tournament, Spain’s meltdown was like a perfectly running Cadillac, a few years old, but still in good shape, unexpectedly chugging to a halt, its old parts deceivingly caked with heaps of rust and wear. La Furija Roa’s 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the Netherlands, a game where their defense was gashed and their captain and goalkeeper embarrassed, was the first signal all might not be right under the hood. Its 3-0 loss to Chile, a game where mainstays Xavi and Gerard Pique didn’t even see the field was when the wheels came off.

Cameroon — Cameroon was the first team mathematically eliminated from the 2010 World Cup, and with the Indomintable Lions seeded in Group A, you knew they had a pretty good chance of repeating that feat. It was only the fact that Spain had the earlier game that Cameroon was saved from pulling off the unfortunate repeat. But thanks to a teammate-on-teammate head butt, an elbow punch from Alex Song and an injured Samuel Eto’o robbing them of true quality on the field, Cameroon still gave us the good old disastrous flameout that we expect from the World Cup.

Bosnia and Herzegovina — So many ambitions, Bosnia. Such high hopes. Despite being the tournaments only debutantes, Bosnia had extreme optimism entering the tournament, thanks to a hot striker in Edin Dzeko, a talented young midfield and an easy group draw. But, thanks to losses to Argentina and Nigeria, Bosnia’s World Cup dreams have already been snuffed out. Whether it was rookie nerves on the big stage or a loss of focus after a goal was wrongly called off, the Dragons’ 2014 World Cup dream was mostly a dud.

England — It’s the meltdown we all subconsciously knew was coming. We just didn’t know it would be as swift and complete as it was. An encouraging loss to Italy, which, despite the score line saw many fans feeling good about England’s passing game and scoring threat, was immediately nullified when England’s worst enemy, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, put two past Joe Hart, knocking England out of the tournament and breaking millions of English hearts in the process. For the first time in its history, England was out of the World Cup after two games.

Follow Maura on Twitter at @mgladys