Who will be the Undisputed Football World Champions?

FIFA World Champion mural by NateTheApe21

After two weeks, 48 games, and 136(!) goals, only 16 of the 32 World Cup finalists remain in Brazil. The UFWC title is still in Brazil, too, and will remain in play right the way through to the final. That means the eventual World Cup winners will also be the Unofficial Football World Champions, and the official and unofficial titles will be unified. All 16 remaining teams have the chance to become football’s undisputed champions. The current unofficial champions are Costa Rica, who now face Greece in the Round of 16, on Sunday, 29 June, at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife.

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Costa Rica 0-0 England: UFWC title into World Cup last 16

Mineirão by Hugo Martins Oliveira

Costa Rica retained the UFWC title and will take it into the World Cup round of 16 as winners of group D following this bore-draw with England. Costa Rica had taken the title from Uruguay and then beaten Italy to retain it. They only needed this draw in Belo Horizonte to secure top spot in the qualifying group. England, meanwhile, were playing for pride, but head home without winning a game at Brazil 2014. Los Ticos have been one of the biggest surprise packages of a entertaining and unpredictable tournament. Coach Jorge Luis Pinto has impressed with his meticulous preparation and effective tactics, setting up his energetic team to nullify opponents. That was certainly the case here, as Costa Rica closed England down while only rarely threatening to score.

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Italy 0-1 Costa Rica: England are next challengers

Photo: Arena Pernambuco, Recife by Nelson Filho

Costa Rica successfully defended the UFWC title with this impressive victory over Italy. Temperatures hit the high 20s celsius during what was a 1pm kick-off at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, in the north-east of Brazil. Italy boss Cesare Prandelli had called ahead of the game for water breaks, and without them his team visibly wilted in the heat. Unsurprisingly, Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto went with the same team that had taken the UFWC title from Uruguay in a 3-1 win on Saturday, playing a 5-4-1 formation, with Joel Campbell as a lone striker.

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Uruguay 1-3 Costa Rica: Costa Rica take title, Italy await

Photo: Estadio Castelão, Fortaleza, Brazil by Crystian Cruz

Costa Rica pulled off a major shock in the heat of Fortaleza to take the UFWC title from Uruguay with an excellent 3-1 win, inspired by Arsenal youngster Joel Campbell. The new Unofficial Football World Champions will face Italy in another title match on Friday. This was actually Costa Rica’s sixth UFWC title match victory, although their first since 1963. They were ranked 29th by FIFA going into this tournament, compared to Urugauy’s 7th. Brazil 2014 is the 12th World Cup Finals at which the UFWC title has been contested.

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Enjoy the World Cup – except when you play against us!

Photo: Football in Sao Paulo by Michael Hudson

While the public mood is muted in Argentina and one of building resentment in Sao Paulo, enthusiasm for the forthcoming World Cup is bubbling on the streets of Montevideo, capital city of reigning Unofficial Football World Champions Uruguay. ‘Welcome! Enjoy the World Cup – except when you play against us,’ a friendly customs officer greeted me at Colonia del Sacramento, an hour-long ferry ride from Buenos Aires. Two-time winners of FIFA’s showcase competition, Uruguayan fans on Montevideo’s main boulevard, the Avenida 18 de Julio, described a draw which places La Celeste in the same group as England, Italy and Costa Rica as ‘both a dream and a nightmare’.

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