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NEW: The defending champions could fail to make it out of the group stage
NEW: The champions failed to advance in 2010, as Italy came last in their group
NEW: The Netherlands face Australia, a team they have never beaten
NEW: Croatia and Cameroon are both on five-match winless streaks
The World Cup isn’t even a week old yet, but Wednesday could see defending champions Spain knocked out of the contest.
If they lose to Chile and the Netherlands beat Australia, Spain won’t make it out of the group stage.
But the Spaniards will be going into the match with the wind at their backs. Spain has beaten Chile in eight of their last 10 matches. The other two were draws.
But there is precedent for the defending champions to be knocked out in the group stage. It happened as recently as 2010 in South Africa, when the 2006 winners, Italy, came last in their group.
And Spain got off to an abysmal start. Their 5-1 loss to the Netherlands was the worst defeat a defending champion has ever suffered in the World Cup.
After the thrashing the Netherlands gave Spain, you might expect them to deal Australia a similar drubbing. Australia is the lowest-ranked team to make the World Cup this year.
But in fact, the Netherlands have never beaten Australia.
Granted, they’ve played each other only three times before. Australia won one, and the other two were draws.
In the last match of the day, Cameroon plays Croatia, a game that should break a streak of poor results for one team or the other.
Cameroon has lost five World Cup matches in a row. But Croatia has gone five without a win, losing three and drawing two.
The two sides have never played each other before.
Wednesday’s dramas come a day after the 2014 World Cup’s best attacking team met the tournament’s best defensive team.
The result was probably the greatest performance by a goalkeeper most football fans have ever seen.
Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was the man of the match, holding Brazil scoreless despite the hosts’ eight shots on goal.
Here are some key statistics:
Number of goals Ochoa has conceded in this World Cup: 0
Number of shots on goal against him: 12
Number of saves: 7, the highest in the tournament
Tweets mentioning Ochoa during the Brazil-Mexico match: 1,967,657, making him the most-often mentioned Mexican player on Twitter during the match
Number of tweets during the match: 8.95 million