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World Cup Review

World Cup Review
When West Germany defeated England in the semi-final of the 1990 World Cup and went on to win the tournament, Gary Lineker was quoted as saying; “twenty- two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”

That was the last time Germany won the World Cup. 14 years later the details were a bit different, but the sentiment was the same as it took Germany 113 minutes to break down Argentina in the Estádio Maracană. The South Americans had held on strongly and the game was grinding slowly towards a penalty shootout. Although Argentina had the better chances, Germany were the better team and looked stronger and fresher in the extra period. Andre Schurrle once again made a difference and set up his fellow substitute Mario Gotze who scored the winning goal.

It was heart breaking to witness the legend of Lionel Messi take a beating when his last second free kick went sailing wide, but nobody can begrudge Germany of their win. They were deserved victors, a true squad that had strong components throughout which made them a force deserving of the crown.

It was a month of glorious football and beautiful shots of the Christ the Redeemer statue and the flocks of supporters on Copacabana beach. We fell in love with Brazil as the World Cup went off without a hitch. Concerns over safety and stadium preparation quickly subsided to unforgettable games and moments of sheer footballing brilliance. The goals record equalled the highest set in 1998. The lower nations, written- off before a football was kicked, shocked the world. But after all the upsets, the dives and penalties and outrageous goals, the Germans won.

Player of the Tournament

A strong argument can be made for Lionel Messi, FIFA’s official player of the tournament. There is little doubt that Argentina wouldn’t have made the final were it not for the Barcelona forward. But one player made us notice him more than most – James Rodriguez of Colombia.

The Monaco midfielder was exceptional from start to finish and – despite a quarter final exit – won the competition’s Golden Shoe. The images of him in tears, barely consolable despite David Luiz’s best efforts, would crack even the coldest of football’s hearts. Not only were his goals important, they were easy on the eye too. The chip against Japan, or the…

Goal of the Tournament

…volley against Uruguay. The control on his chest, the turn, the millimetre-perfect strike into the top of the goal; the goal had everything. It was utter brilliance from a wonderful player who has gone from a French league star at Monaco to a household name, a goal that likely signed his name along the dotted line of a multi- million contract at the Bernabeu.

Honourable mentions must go to Tim Cahill’s first-touch volley against the Netherlands and Robin van Persie’s audacious flicked header in the opening round against Spain, a goal that will live long in the nightmares of Spanish football.

Young Player of the Tournament

It was a fairly innocuous tournament for players under 21, so it’s hard to argue with the FIFA’s official player of the tournament – Paul Pogba. He was super for France, a dominating figure in the middle of the park despite his in experience. He possesses excellent technique determination and popped up with a crucial deadlock breaking goal in the last sixteen against Nigeria. France have enhanced their reputation after the month, and so has the Juventus machine.

Team of the Tournament

Manuel Neuer produced a fantastic modern goalkeeping display – with power, presence and ball playing ability that has him as the best goalkeeper in the world right now. Defensively, Giancarlo Gonzalez was inspirational for Costa Rica while Daley Blind was tremendous for Holland.

Javier Mascherano was spectacular enough at centre midfield to allow me space for an extra attacker, so I wedged Lionel Messi, Neymar and Thomas Muller in a front three with James Rodriguez pulling the strings in behind and Arjen Robben working the wings.

Manuel Neuer (Germany); Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina), Mats Hummels (Germany), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Costa Rica), Daley Blind (Holland); Arjen Robben (Holland), Javier Mascherano (Argentina), James Rodriguez (Colombia); Lionel Messi (Argentina), Neymar (Brazil), Thomas Muller (Germany)

Biggest Gaffe

There were few facepalming gaffes in the tournament, despite plenty of idiotic moments such as Pepe’s headbutt and Alex Song’s elbow. And even the goalkeeping was at an astonishingly high quality.

Igor Akinfeev’s fumble therefore is easily the biggest gaffe of the tournament, putting a black mark on Tim Howard’s and Guillermo Ochoa’s fine work for goalkeeping reputation.

Best Game

I’ve picked a game that set the tone for the rest of the tournament – Holland’s 5-1 demolition against Spain. It was so unexpected but ultimately wrote two contrasting World Cup storylines; the death of football’s greatest dynasty and the continuation of Dutch greatness under a fantastic manager.

But there were so many fantastic games. Brazil and Chile’s last sixteen match which went to penalties had everything, tension, a nearly-moment at the very death and two sets of unbelievably passionate fans. Holland’s 3-2 against Australia was crazily end-to-end. And Germany’s 7-1 murder of Brazil… who would have called that?

Best Coach

There were so many, from Mexico’s Miguel Herrera for his sheer passion to Louis van Gaal for his shrewdness, personified in his decision to change goalkeepers a minute before the penalty shootout with Costa Rica.

But that team, Costa Rica, had a truly inspirational manager in Jorge Pinto who set up his side as incredibly difficult to defeat and guided his nation through a group that contained Uruguay, Italy and England and all the way to the final eight – showing you don’t have to be a team full of world class stars to make your mark on the World Cup.

Worst Team

Germany were the best team, the worst were probably Cameroon who finished dead last and were left a laughing stock with reports of unpaid bonuses. The players left it late to travel over to Brazil and after such shocking performances they don’t deserve to be paid a cent of any bonus, especially Alex Song who got sent off for an absolutely ridiculous elbow into the back of Mario Manzukic.

Article By:

Kevin Coleman: www.back

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