Still less than a week into festivities, the World Cup has really hit its stride with three sides eliminated from the competition in an action-packed day in Brazil.
Australia and Cameroon might have been seen as inevitable early departures, but the same can certainly not have been said of Spain, who became the third reigning champions to go out in the group stage in the past four World Cups.
While Spain were unable to cope with Chile’s urgent pressing style, Cameroon were simply outclassed in every area by Croatia, who put four past the Indomitable Lions.
The Blazers were aided by a red card for Alex Song, who lashed out at Mario Mandzukic to leave his side playing with ten men for fifty minutes, but Croatia rarely looked troubled even when their opposition had a full complement of players.
The result means that a win over Mexico will put Niko Kovac’s side through to the knockout stages, with Croatia 27/20 to beat El Tri, who drew with Brazil in their second group game.
Mandzukic’s return from suspension was vital as the Bayern Munich striker made up for lost time by lashing in two second-half goals, but it was Wolfsburg winger Ivan Perisic who put Croatia on their way.
The 25-year-old was calmness personified when he slipped through a perfect pass for ivic a Olic to open the scoring in the first half, before turning on the afterburners to net a superb individual goal himself early in the second.
Perisic enjoyed a fine season for Woflsburg, registering 10 goals and four assists in the Bundesliga, but Die Wolfe will reportedly consider offers of around £8m for the winger as they look to strengthen other areas.
Liverpool are amongst those who have been linked with Perisic in the past, but Everton seem to be leading the chase for his services now and have apparently already spoken to Wolfsburg about a possible move.
Perisic won the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund before moving to Wolfsburg and considering his impressive displays in Brazil, where he is one of five players to notch a goal and an assist in the same game, his price-tag looks very good value indeed.