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World Cup intensity in knockout round

As I lay my 1982 World Cup champion Italy – the Azzurri's third World Cup title and first in my lifetime – T-shirt back in the drawer after the group stage for the second time since it won its fourth global crown eight years ago, I turn my personal attention to the United States and Mexico.

Both North American teams advanced as runners-up from the group stage into the "Round of 16" or "Knockout Round," where they were joined by group winners host Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Costa Rica, Argentina and Belgium; and other group runner-ups Chile, Uruguay, Nigeria, Algeria, Greece and Switzerland.

After the weekend elimination matches, two of the World Cup favorites, host Brazil and powerful Netherlands, somehow escaped being ousted by the proverbial "skin of their teeth" by Chile and Mexico, respectively.

Chile had the Brazilians on the ropes and came within inches of shocking the five-time champions, but the ball bounced off both the cross-bar in extra time, and the post in the deciding, and excruciating, penalty kickoff.

As both a player and fan, the last thing you want the final outcome to come down to are with penalty kicks, with fatigue at that point of the match for the players being a factor in their team's fate, and the stressful to elation or heartbreak for the fans being their fate.


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