The World Cup of surprises: from the elimination of Belgium and Germany to the advance of Australia and Morocco

(CNN Spanish) — First was Saudi Arabia’s upset win over Argentina. Then, Germany’s loss to Japan. Now that those classified to the round of 16 are consolidated, the surprises do not stop: Australia, Senegal and Morocco are in the next phase and Belgium, Denmark and Germany were eliminated.

To the atypical World Cup for the time of the year and the venue is added the strangeness —for some— at the football level.

(Credit: Getty Images)

Germany outside and Spain saved: an unpredictable group

Group E is the best example. On the first date, Spain thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 and Japan defeated Germany. Two results that few had in their forecasts. On the second date, Germany and Spain tied and Costa Rica beat Japan. With that result, everyone was in the fight and Spain had everything very simple. But in the third match, Spain lost —surprisingly— to Japan and at some point even risked elimination, because Costa Rica —again against all odds— was beating Germany by a few minutes. But the Germans composed themselves, turned the game around and won 4-2. It was of little use, because the victory of Japan eliminated them. And the Asians were first in what could be considered the group of death. Did anyone anticipate it?

The same four points that helped Spain to qualify (helped by the great goal difference in their favor) did not help Ecuador, who played very well against Qatar and the Netherlands, to qualify. Senegal, without Sadio Mané, was second in group A, something that was not taken for granted.

Germany leaves in the group stage for the second consecutive World Cup and is no longer a victim of the champion’s curse: now it is in crisis.

Australia’s qualification and Denmark’s failure

In Group D it was thought that Denmark would accompany France in the passage to the round of 16. After all, the Danes are ranked 10th by FIFA and had an acceptable performance in the Nations League. Although France got rid of the champion’s curse and had two victories (but lost surprisingly to Tunisia at the end), Denmark disappointed: they could only draw with Tunisia and were bottom of the group. Instead Australia, which fell 1-4 to France in the first match, defeated Tunisia and Denmark and finished second in the group. An unexpected and highly outstanding result: it is only the second time in its history that Australia has qualified for the round of 16.

The disappointment of Belgium and the Moroccan feat

In group F the surprise came from another classified African and another eliminated European. Belgium, second on the FIFA list and with a team made up of a golden generation (De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku, Courtois), was third with 4 points, just ahead of weak Canada. They beat the Canadians, lost 0-2 to Morocco and drew with Croatia. A disappointing elimination. On the other hand, Morocco with seven points (victory over Canada and Belgium and draw with Croatia) led the group and reached the round of 16 for the second time in their history. In a group with the runner-up in the world and second in FIFA, it was difficult to have Morocco as the leader.

It remains to be seen if Ghana makes the feat in Group H and leaves out Uruguay, a historic team used to passing the phase, to seal another of the World Cup surprises.

With information from Sebastián Jiménez