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By Sportswriter Ji Ye

BELO HORIZONTE [url=http://www.chelseafcshopuk.com/...n-chelsea-shirt.html]Andreas Christensen Chelsea Shirt[/url] , Brazil, June 26 (Xinhua) -- Curtains were lowered on the group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup on Thursday.

Matches in the past 14 days were full of surprises as reigning champions Spain were sent packing and some European powerhouse left while American teams stunned the world against the backdrop of the Luis Suarez biting saga.

Fans from the world are treated to a real football extravaganza as the 48 group games provided 2.8 goals per game and plenty of late goals.

Barcelona playmaker Neymar, Lionel Andres Messi and Bayern Munich striker Thomas Muller led the scorers board with four goals respectively, while Brazil [url=http://www.chelseafcshopuk.com/...l-chelsea-shirt.html]Gary Cahill Chelsea Shirt[/url] , Argentina and Germany all successfully navigated into the round of 16.

South America is in solid position to send five of its six teams onto the knockout stage. Ecuador became the only South American team eliminated despite earning four points. Teams from North and Central America also produced major surprises as three of four teams reached the last 16.

The performances of European teams varied. World and European champions Spain suffered the humiliation of becoming the first reigning champions to be out of the World Cup after just two games. Former champions Italy and England joined the Spanish on the early flight home.

Meanwhile Germany, France, the Netherlands, Greece [url=http://www.chelseafcshopuk.com/willian-chelsea-shirt.html]Willian Chelsea Shirt[/url] , Switzerland, Belgium all secured spots in the next round.

Two teams out of five from Africa entered the top 16 with Nigeria and Algeria both ranking second place in their group. Asia was frustrated again as all the four teams from the Asian Football Confederation - Japan, South Korea, Iran and Australia - packed their suitcase without even one win out of their 12 games with three draws and nine losses.

Copa America?

South American sides haven't had the pleasure of playing on home soil since 1978 [url=http://www.chelseafcshopuk.com/...a-chelsea-shirt.html]Davide Zappacosta Chelsea Shirt[/url] , and they are taking full advantage of it. South American teams collected a total of 13 victories, against two losses and three draws.

Host Brazil's World Cup finals journey started with an own goal from their defender Marcelo before wunderkind Neymar stepped up to inspire Luiz Felipe Scolari's side to victory over Croatia. However the questionable penalty given to the Selecao stole the show.

After drawing with Mexico, Brazil secured the top place with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Cameroon.

Argentina collected nine points with a perfect record. Captain Lionel Messi scored in each three games, including a late winner against Iran and a spectacular free kick from 30 meters [url=http://www.chelseafcshopuk.com/...r-chelsea-shirt.html]Antonio Rudiger Chelsea Shirt[/url] , to help his team go through.

However, the one-man show of Messi cannot hide other Argentina players' shaky performance. Messi's attacking partners, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria all struggled to hit form. Meanwhile [url=http://www.chelseafcshopuk.com/...d-chelsea-shirt.html]Olivier Giroud Chelsea Shirt[/url] , the Argentina defense line was riddles that cast a shadow on Argentina's knockout stage prospect.

Colombia notched the top place in Group C with three consecutive wins without injured Radamel Falcao. They discovered James Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez were just as good to lead them deep into the knockout stage.

Uruguay pushed Italy to the elimination with a 1-0 win in a do-or-die game while Luis Suarez biting the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini stole the limelight. On Thursday Suarez was prohibited from all soccer activities for four months and banned for Uruguay's next nine international games.

Teams from North and Central America also produced the largest discrepancy.

The "minnows" Costa Rica unexpectedly topped the so called "Group of Death" in Group D with two wins and one draw, and advanced with Uruguay while former champions Italy and England made the exit early.

Mexico stunningly drew with Brazil before edging out Croatia for the final knockout place in Group A. The El Tri scored three goals in 10 electrifying second-half minutes to beat Croatia 3-1 in the third game, but still ranked the second due to inferior goal difference.

The United States also ranked the second place in Group G, edging Portugal thanks to better goal difference.

American teams enjoyed home advantages and looked more adaptable to the atmosphere in Brazil than the players from other continents.

Of course [url=http://www.chelseafcshopuk.com/...s-chelsea-shirt.html]Victor Moses Chelsea Shirt[/url] , it is far too early to declare victory for American teams. The South Americans were on the precipice of dominance in 2010 with four teams in the quarterfinals, but only one, Uruguay, got through to the semis.

European Curse

A European team has never won the World Cup in South America. Some have already tasted such a curse [url=http://www.chelseafcshopuk.com/pedro-chelsea-shirt.html]Pedro Chelsea Shirt[/url] , in which the exit of Spain is the most shocking one.

For six years Spain are the No.1-ranked FIFA team month after month, winning the 2008 and 2012 European Championships and the 2010 World Cup. But this time they failed to assert their dominance.

After the 5-1 capitulation to the Netherlands in their opening game, Vicente del Bosque's team could not recover from that blow, eventually exiting the tournament after losing their next match to Chile [url=http://www.chelseafcshopuk.com/...d-chelsea-shirt.html]Eden Hazard Chelsea Shirt[/url] , which made their 3-0 victory against Australia in the final group match irrelevant.

The Spanish team even had a bumpy landing to round off their disappointing campaign when their aircraft was hit by lightning near Madrid's airport on their way back home.

As runners-up at the 2012 European Championships and third in last year's FIFA Confederations Cup, Italy also ended in a collapse which marred by coach Cesare Prandelli's resignation.

After starting the campaign with a convincing 2-1 win against England, the Azzurri lost 1-0 to both Costa Rica and Uruguay, leading to the 2006 winners' exit at the group stage for the second successive World Cup.

England arrived with a squad full of youthful excitement but poor management and insufficient experience left England without a win here [url=http://www.chelseafcshopuk.com/blank-chelsea-shirt.html]Blank Chelsea Shirt[/url] , going out at the group stage for the first time since 1958 and le

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