Archive for the ‘2014 FIFA World Cup’ Category
Why Germany are Europe’s Greatest Ever World Cup winners – and James Rodrigues not Lionel Messi was player of tournament
How fitting that one of the most spectacular goals of the tournament has won the 2014 World Cup for THE outstanding team of the tournament.
When 22 year old Mario Götze struck the winner seven minutes from the end of extra time against Argentina he became a German legend.
The headline writers – in the UK at least – all agreed it was SUPER MARIO. Götze‘s goal landed the Germans their fourth World Cup – their first for 24 years – and made them the first ever European team to win the tournament in South America. Götze the youngest player ever to score in the final
This was billed as the match between the best team in the world against the team with the player many believe is the best player in the world . . . but Barcelona’s Lionel Messi failed to emulate Argentina’s greatest ever player Diego Maradona.
Messi was named player of the tournament. But this was travesty and a blatant compromise for the sponsors who all wanted to meet Argentina’s superstar skipper. For me the player of the tournament was Colombia’s James Rodriquez, who won the Golden Boot for top scoring with SIX goals despite only playing FIVE games. While Thomas Müller’s was one of several Germans who outshone Messi in Brazil.
The German keeper Manuel Neuer rightly won the Golden Glove – only USA’s Tim Howard came anywhere close to matching the Bayern Munich shot stopper.
From the immaculate Neuer in goal right through to match winning substitute Götze the Germans produced a superb team performance. Bastian Schweinsteiger was colossal in midfield and Philipp Lahm was again outstanding at right wing back as Germany dominated 60% of possession and had five more shots on target than Argentina.
But this was also a story of missed opportunities by the South Americans who had the better chances in normal time. A shocking miss by Gonzalo Higuain who shot wide when he broke clear on 20 minutes.Then Messi blew his big chances at the start of the second half with another golden chance that rolled wide of the far post.
The game was destined for extra time and the longer it went on the more Germany grew in superiority. When Gotze came off the bench to hit a spectacular winner served up by Chelsea’s André Schürrle it was no more than Joachim Löw‘s team deserved.
Germany are well deserved winners of the 2014 WorldCup – and they did it in style by beating both the pre-tournament favourites. Crushing host nation Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final before finishing off an immaculate campaign against Argentina.
The big question now is just how good is this German team?
Their acheivement in Brazil must rank as the greatest ever by a European nation – not just because they’re the first to win in South America. But the manner of their victory has been out of this world. The truth is the Spanish era of domination is over – and now the Germans have laid the foundations that could see them dominate for years to come.
The Netherlands are officially the third best team at World Cup 2014. And Brazil finish fourth. But there’s a huge gulf between these proud footballing nations.
For the host nation it was an opportunity to make amends for their humiliating 7-1 semi final defeat by Germany.
But the Dutch only made Brazil suffer further shame. Robin Van Persie despatched the opening goal from the penalty spot inside 3 minutes – after Arjen Robben was fouled by thiago silva. The Brazilian captain somehow avoiding a red card.
On 16 mins Daley Blind made it 2-0 .. the home fans falling silent in fear of another landslide.
In the end there was only one further strike deep into injury time from Georginio Wijnaldum
But this was too much for the Brazil fans who greeted the final whistle with boos for their fallen stars. Anyone who thinks this third place match does not matter can think again.
The sight of Dirk Kuyt at the side of the pitch having a cut on his head stapled confirmed just how much the Dutch players wanted to win this game.
Apart from their penalty shoot out defeat by Argentina in the semi final the Dutch finish unbeaten in this tournament. Louis Van Gaal proud of that achievement as he sets off for his new role as manager of Manchester United.
Meantime the biggest losers away from the World Cup are surely Paris St Germain. Did they really pay Chelsea 50 million pounds for David Luiz so they can play him in defence alongside Thiago Silva. Wow. Thats another Brazilian nightmare waiting to happen.
Javier Mascherano outstanding as Argentina end Dutch dream for Louis Van Gaal and Sergio Romero is spot kick hero
In the end even master tactician Louis Van Gaal could not stop pre-tournament favourites Argentina reaching the final. It was heartbreak for Holland in a penalty shoot out. And joy for the South Americans, who for once did not rely on Lionel Messi to get them through.
This was a team effort by Argentina. Goalkeeper Sergio Romero was the hero in the penalty shoot out and man-of-the-match Javier Mascherano was outstanding in driving his team forward. Barcelona’s defensive midfielder produced one of the performances of the tournament.
The return of Nigel de Jong, and Robin van Persie passed fit to play was a pre-match boost for the Dutch. And unlike the previous night’s semi-final this was a real contest. A remarkable last ditch tackle from Masherano denied Arjen Robben in the last minute of normal time. And it remained goal-less in extra time too.
The Dutch had the lion’s share of possession. But Argentina had more shots and more on target. This was a match that always looked like it was heading for penalties.
In the nerve jangling penalty shoot out Romero was the hero saving two of Holland’s first three penalties. The Dutch keeper Jasper Cillesson has never saved a spot kick and when he couldn’t stop Maxi Rodriguez making it 4-2 Argentina were through.
In the final, Germany will be strongly fancied after that 7-1 win in the semi-final. But we still haven’t seen the best of Argentina.
Germany 7, Brazil 1
– Muller 11, Klose 23, Kroos 25, 26, Khedira 29, Schurrle 69, 79
– Oscar 90
Wow! Wow! Wow! Where do I start?
This has been an unbelievable World Cup on so many levels – but this was an extraordinary match the likes of which we have never seen before.
In the yellow corner, without their injured hero Neymar and suspended skipper Thiago Silva, this was the worst Brazilian team we have seen in the history of this proud nation.
But take nothing away from the Germans because they were awesome. Ruthless in their demolition of opponents who collapsed in embarrassment. Take nothing away from Joachim Loew’s side who in one six minute spell smashed home four glorious goals.
This was the biggest humiliation Brazil have ever experienced. Even more humbling than the the shame of the “Maracanasa” when they were beaten in the final by South American rivals Uruguay when they last hosted the world cup 54 years ago.
But how good is this German team? Only after Sunday’s final against Holland or Argentina will we truly be able to judge this team. Meantime this was the day a Brazilian dream was exposed as pure fantasy by the most spectacular win in German history.
Louis Van Gaal is the new king of the mind games. That’s my verdict on another remarkable twist at this fascinating World Cup.
Holland’s elimination of brave Costa Rica in a Krul penalty shoot out will go down in football folklore as a dose of Dutch courage.
With the final place in the final four at stake this was the match to decide who plays Argentina in the semi final.
And underdogs Costa ignored all the odds with another incredible performance that denied the Dutch . . . Wesley Sneijder twice hit the woodwork and goalkeeper Kelvor Navas had the game of his life.
There was even a crucial save from Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen to keep out Udena in a pulsating final few minutes of extra time.
Then came the real drama when van Gaal sent on substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul right at the end – purely for the penalty shoot out.
The Costa Ricans remember had scored 5 out 5 penalties to beat Greece in a shoot out in the previous round.
But this was a master stroke by the Dutch manager that clearly unsettled the opposition – and Krul joined in the mindgames by telling each penalty taker he knew where they would be aiming . . .
It worked as Krul made two saves and guessed right with all 5 penalties.
This has already been an unbelievable World Cup – but we’ve never seen anything like this before.
And Manchester United fans have joined the Dutch celebrations as they relish the prospects when Van Gaal takes over the Old Trafford hot seat in a few days time.
Argentine overcame the challenge of Belgium in the night’s other quarter-final.
Higuain scored the only goal when he struck early. And for once the South Americans did not rely on their no.1 Messi to get them over the line.
That means both semi finals will be Europe against South America.
Argentina against Brazil was the final the bookmakers predicted
– but can Germany or the Dutch make history and become the first European side to win the tournament in South America.
The Dutch certainly believe if anyone can mastermind that Van Gaal can.
When Tim Krul saved twice in a sensational penalty shoot out win that eliminated brave Costa Rica and earned Holland a semi-final showdown with Argentina, this remarkable World Cup hit another unbelievable high.
It was also confirmation if any was needed that Manchester United have found a worthy manager to fill the hot seat at Old Trafford.
Has any national team boss ever made a bigger call than the one LVG made when he sent Krul on as a substitute seconds before the end of a pulsating extra time that finished goal-less.
It was a master stroke that unsettled the Costa Ricans who scored a flawless 5 out of 5 in their previous round’s penalty shoot out win over Greece.
Well done Krul who had only made two previous saves from spot kicks for Newcastle United. And well done Van Gaal for proving he is both a master tactician and a master of mind games.
Well thank heavens for Lionel Messi – that’s all I can say about Switzerland parking the bus and holding out for two minutes short of two hours against Argentina.
The irony was the Swiss created more excitement in the final seconds than they’d done for the rest of the match. But ultimately they paid the price for negativity.
Thrashed 5-2 in their opening match by France, you can credit the Swiss for not rolling over against the favourites.Their tactics were simple – plenty of men behind the ball at all times. And they almost made it to a penalty shoot out.
But then came a moment of magic from Messi that released Di Maria on the right – and the Argentine who’d been well below par until that point found a glorious match winning strike.
It sparked a frantic final few minutes that saw the Swiss almost save themselves. Dzemali hitting the post with a header and then stumbling into the rebound and sending it wide.
Argentina go through. But this match only confirmed the notion that if you stop Lionel Messi you stop the South Americans. Meantime in the final round of 16 showdown we had a real thriller between Belgium and the USA.
Amazingly it finished goal-less after 90 minutes – thanks largely to American goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Then came another inspired substitution by Marc Wilmots . . . Romelu Lukaku off the bench to create the havoc that ended with Kevin De Bruyne breaking the deadlock.
Lukaku made it 2-nil . . . but we weren’t finished. A superb strike by Julian Green made it 2-1 and took the game to the wire and a breathtaking finish.
In the end an heroic effort by the Americans fell agonising short and Belgium complete the final eight. But let’s salute the USA for their part in one of the game’s of the tournament.
2014 World Cup | France and Germany complete Euro double but Africans earn huge respect for bravery of Nigeria and Algeria
So – it’s France and Germany who go through to the quarter finals at the expense of Nigeria and Algeria … and so far we have three European sides, two from South America and one from Central American through to to the final eight.
But there’s no disputing the quality we’ve seen from the African nations at World Cup 2014.
The truth is Nigeria had the better of the first half against France. But when we got down to the business end of this contest the 1998 World Champions had an extra gear.
Yahan Cabaye hit the bar . . . and then in the 79th minute Paul Pogba finally headed home to break the deadlock.
Griezmann‘s movement deep into injury time saw Joseph Yobo deflect the ball into his own net . . .
And that made the winning margin 2-nil for Didier Deschamps’ men, who have a growing belief that this could be their year.
With Valbueana, Benzema, Pogba, Cabaye and Griezmann all clicking into gear this French side will take some stopping.
But next up it’s the Germans, who needed all their guile and experience to get past Algeria. Once again the African side dominated the Europeans in the first half – and they matched the Germans throughout.
But it was extra time before the deadlock in a pulsating match was broken by André Schürrle – with a touch of genius.
This was a match denied more goals by quality goalkeeping and agonising misses at both ends until Mesut Özil made it 2-0 one minute from the end of extra time. Then Abdelmoumene Djabou set up a frantic final 60 seconds when he gave Algeria a goal they thoroughly deserved in injury time. But the Germans always reach the quarter-finals –and they’ve done it again!
In the last three tournaments they’ve reached ONE final and TWO semi-finals and the last time they failed to reach the final four was 1998 – the year their next opponents FRANCE won the World Cup
Meantime, we’ve already seen more goals scored in Brazil than the whole of the last world cup in South Africa. And we’ve still got nine matches left in this tournament. But it’s not just the number of goals being scored, it’s all about the quality of the football – and so far that really has been pretty special.
2014 World Cup | Van Gaal’s late change rewarded with stunning Holland fightback to eliminate Mexico
Just when it looked like Mexico were heading into the quarter-finals, a remarkable late fightback snatched victory for Holland with two goals in the dying minutes.
What looked like being the decisive goal came at the start of the second half when Giovani dos Santos gave Mexico the lead.
And it looked ominous for the Dutch when Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa made a string of outstanding saves to frustrate Louis Van Gaal’s men.
But the Dutch manager changed things round replacing Robin Van Persie with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and was rewarded with a stunning late surge that began with a brilliant strike by Wesley Sneijder two minutes from the end of normal time.
Then deep into time added on substitute Huntelaar was ice cool in the searing heat to give Holland a remarkable win from the penalty spot after another dazzling run from Arjen Robben won the spot kick.
Costa Rica spot on with perfect penalty shoot out to eliminate stubborn Greece
The team Holland will face in the quarter final is Costa Rica who had to dig deep to see off the challenge of Greece in tonight’s other dramatic Round of 16 game.
The Greeks fell behind when Brian Ruiz struck at the start of the second half. But a red card left the Costa Ricans with 10 men and looked like the turning point. Just as they’d done to eliminate the Ivory Coast in their previous match the Greeks saved themselves in injury time with an equaliser from Socrates Papastathopoulos.
No goals in extra time meant the match went to penalties . . . and the Costa Ricans scored 5 out of 5 to claim a place in the quarter-finals for the first in their history.
The Dutch will now really fancy their chances of making the final 4 and will start as huge favourites in next Saturday’s quarter final. But no one is writing off the Costa Ricans as no hopers – they’ve already eliminated England, Italy, Uruguay and now Greece.
2014 World Cup | Brazil break Chilean hearts winning pulsating penalty shoot out 3-2 after thrilling 1-1 draw
Well you can’t beat the drama of a penalty shoot out. Host nation Brazil surviving a roller coaster of emotion to edge out Chile.
But the new star of the tournament is James Rodriguez who scored twice as Colombia finished off Uruguay – the first a wonder goal and the best of the tournament so far.
An outstanding start to the round of 16 began with the match between Brazil and Chile. And an early strike by David Luiz.
Alexis Sanchez made it all square when he punished slack defending with a clinical finish
This was a pulsating match that could have gone either way. Huge controversy in the second half when referee Howard Webb cancelled out a goal by Hulk for handball.
A decision that dispels any suggestion of a bias towards the host nation
Then came a spectacular strike by Pinilla in the final minute of injury time that crashed against the Brazil crossbar. . .
the host nation inches away from going out.
No goals in extra time meant penalties and both sides missed twice before Neymar made it 3-2 and Gonzalo Jara hit the post with the final kick
Brazil just about deserve their place in the quarter finals – butr huge respect for Chile who played magnificently in this tournament especially Sanchez.
In the quarter finals they’ll play Colombia who were too good for a Uruguayan side missing the banned Luis Suarez. Rodriguez opened the scoring with an extraordinary strike that really was the best of the best. And his second wasn’t bad either – the finishing touch to a brilliant team goal. It ended 2-nil, Colombia holding off a spirited Uruguayan fightback that failed to get them on the scoresheet
Brazil will start as favourites when they meet the Colombians in the quarter final. But anything is possible for Colombia while they’ve got James Rodriguez.