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Four Countries Whose Footballing Stock Has Drastically Improved This World Cup

14/07/2014 17:11 BST | Updated 13/09/2014 10:59 BST

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil has been thrilling right from the first whistle, courtesy of a number of teams who performed above expectations and subsequently improved their footballing stock to the rest of the world.

Here are the top four countries whose reputation and status on the international stage has experienced a drastic improvement.

4. Algeria

Reaching the round of 16 for the first time in their history, the 2014 World Cup will go down in Algerian history books.

It is easy to argue that they were placed in one of the kindest groups, but considering their reputation on the international stage prior to this tournament, they were still expected to go home after their first three games.

Instead, they put four past South Korea and fought incredibly hard to draw against a tough Russian side, booking their place in the next round, where they came very close to knocking out a magnificent German side.

A number of Algerian players have caught the eye this summer too, courtesy of some fantastic individual performances. The most notable being goalkeeper, Adi Mbolhi, a contender for keeper of the tournament.

Mbolhi was awarded the man of the match award against Germany, despite conceding the all important goals that knocked them out. His save rate of 76.7% was fantastic and some of his saves have secured him in a number of top side's transfer lists.

The whole nation of Algeria can be proud that they have outdone themselves this summer and improved their footballing stock massively.

3. USA

The United States went into this tournament in an admirable frame of mind knowing that they couldn't go all the way, but could certainly have a good go at it.

After England were prematurely knocked out, many Brits sided with our good pals across the pond and many from other countries did also.

They went into every game raring to go and gave Germany a good run for their money in the group stages, narrowly losing 1-0. They were seconds away from beating Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and beat Ghana 2-1.

In their final game against Belgium, Tim Howard pulled off a magnificent 16 saves, a World Cup record and despite going out thanks to two extra-time goals, they had shown the world that even though they can't correctly say 'football', they aren't half bad at it!

Subsequently, a number of their stars can look forward to moves to top European sides where they can really make a name for themselves.

2. Costa Rica

When the groups were announced, many wrote off Costa Rica entirely, favouring Italy, Uruguay or foolishly, England. They were in the toughest group of the tournament going by the FIFA world rankings and were expected to go out without a whimper.

How wrong they were.

Costa Rica sailed through group D, beating Uruguay and Italy before holding the Three Lions to a 0-0 draw, and progressing to the round of 16 where they saw off Greece in a penalty shootout.

Once again, it was another goalkeeper who stole the show, Keilor Navas, and increasing his personal stock. Joel Campbell also stood out, giving Arsene Wenger a headache as he decides whether he will play a part in his side's title challenge anytime soon.

Costa Rica made it all the way to the quarter-finals where they were knocked out by a fortunate Holland, who simply could not score in normal time, almost losing the game in the dying minutes.

The fact that they came through such a tough group is admirable enough, but they did it with attractive, exciting football, drastically increasing their standings on the world stage and ensuring no one underestimates them next time around.

1. Colombia

When Colombia climbed up the FIFA world rankings into third place a few months back, many questioned why. But this summer they have been the most exciting team to watch, scoring a whopping 12 goals in their five games, one being a strong contender for goal of the tournament.

Colombia eased past Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan and Uruguay, before being edged out by the hosts Brazil.

Their attitude and flair is infectious, putting smiles on the faces of pretty much everyone as they dance after every goal.

You only have to see the welcome their home fans gave them as they returned to Colombia earlier this week, as it's clear how much it means to the country.

Colombia were always known to be 'okay', but this summer they established themselves on the international stage and united the fans of all the eliminated teams in a way that has never been seen before.

For the 90 minutes each time they came out on the pitch, everyone was half Colombian.

Almost all of their players will have been watched with excitement by managers all over the world and they have certainly improved their footballing stock ten fold.

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