It’s not fashionable to think too long about the teams that have left the tournament in this stage. Whatever injustice or act of God put their World Cup run in the dirt, we move on to the next round, the next slurry of cruelty and glory.
But then Mauricio Pinilla, the Chilean striker with the hair tucked behind his ears, does something like this:
And it reminds you in a way that perhaps there is a shadow tournament being played here, a tournament of pain, where the collection of agonies is the whole goal.
World Cup of Agony? I present to you Chile, winner. A chance for a truly famous victory, against the hosts, against a neighbor, against a rival, against Brazil, and it clangs off the goalpost. Pain.
Or maybe it’s Mexico, after Arjen Robben scowled and flopped them into oblivion. Or Algeria or Switzerland, so stout against former champions until the waning moments.