Midway through the tournament, armies of Latin American fans who invaded Brazil by car, plane and busloads have often been the loudest while their teams dazzled on the pitch. (Agencies)
After European teams triumphed in the previous two World Cups, they have reason to celebrate.
From Mexico to tiny Costa Rica, down to Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay, Latin American teams have mostly outplayed their European, Asian and African rivals during the group stage ending on Thursday.
But they have also been the rowdiest fans, giving Brazilian security officials an extra chore while they deal with a waning anti-World Cup protest movement.
And the real excitement has yet to come.
After the first gameless day on Friday, the elimination round starts on Saturday, with an all-South American lineup: Brazil-Chile and Colombia-Uruguay. No European team has ever won the trophy in Latin America.
But one of South America's best players, Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, could go home early as FIFA investigates accusations that he bit an Italian defender in Tuesday's 1-0 victory that sent the Europeans packing.
"The first half of the Cup was positive overall. The protests have had little impact. The Brazilian people want to enjoy the cup," said Pablo Azevedo, a sports management expert at Brasilia University.
While fears of anti-Cup protests deterred some Europeans from traveling, Latin Americans "came in much larger numbers than we anticipated," he said.
Azevedo said a survey conducted by his sports research lab found that 300 foreign fans gave a good grade to the tournament's organization, belying fears of chaos.
This is good news for President Dilma Rousseff, who formally launched on Saturday her bid for re-election in October, leading in opinion polls despite a drop in popularity over the cost of what she has dubbed "the cup of cups."
But some fans have gone overboard.
Authorities have deployed extra police around the 12 arenas this week to prevent more security breaches after scores of ticketless Argentine and Chilean fans gatecrashed the Maracana Stadium in two games.
Some 85 Chileans were kicked out of Brazil over the incident at the Rio de Janeiro stadium, site of the July 13 final.
But tens of thousands turned the Maracana into homefield advantage as Chile upset Spain 2-0, eliminating the defending champions.
Their sombrero-wearing Mexican amigos have been loud, too. Maybe too loud.
FIFA investigated the "puto" anti-gay slur that they chant against opposition goalkeepers during games, but the sport's governing body did not sanction Mexico's football federation.
"Hinchas" (fans) from Argentina - Brazil's eternal rivals to the south - have come in droves, causing security headaches.
Police used stun grenades in the southeastern city of Belo Horizonte on Saturday to disperse a group of Argentines who clashed with Brazilian fans.
Hours later, police used non-lethal munitions to break up a crowd of fans who tried to break through security to approach Argentina's team bus before their 1-0 victory over Iran.
Authorities said they would prevent 2,100 Argentine hooligans from entering Brazil for the cup. At least 32 have been turned away at the border so far.
But most Argentine fans seem to be in a party mood.
Some 100,000 swarmed the southern city of Porto Alegre for Wednesday's 3-2 win over Nigeria, one parading from a car's sunroof dressed as Pope Francis, an Argentine.
Around 5,000 police and troops were deployed along with helicopters and a navy ship.
The festive legions of fans around the country have greatly outnumbered the dwindling number of protesters fuming at the USD 11 billion cost of the World Cup.
Last year, Brazilians held massive demonstrations during the Confederations Cup, a World Cup dress rehearsal, demanding more money for schools and hospitals.
This time, the demonstrations have attracted much smaller crowds with sporadic clashes with police involving rocks, tear gas and rubber bullets.
"There are few people at the protests because of the repression on the first day of the cup," said protest organizer Rodrigo Antonio.
Santiago attorney Gabriel Salas, 47, walked through a small protest in Sao Paulo on Monday with his three children, draped in Chile's flag.
"It's a shame because the World Cup is a party that should be for everybody," he said.
Midway through the tournament, armies of Latin American fans who invaded Brazil by car, plane and busloads have often been the loudest while their teams dazzled on the pitch.