Well, it has ended. Last night Germany won 1-0 in extra time thanks to a brilliant goal from Mario Gotze. This morning, I was a little dejected. What a World Cup it has been, just a shame it had to end. I took 2 weeks off work to watch the group stages, which was the best decision ever. Bar a couple of games, there was many a classics’. Some of the usual suspects disappointed, and some small teams shocked the World with some top performances.
We witnessed 171 goals in 64 games, and some of the best goals I have ever seen – James Rodriguez’ stunning strike against Uruguay being the one that sticks in my memory, and will do for a while yet. Here are my personal top 10 games, in no particular order:
- Algeria 4-2 South Korea – Halilhodzic’s men were 2/1 outsiders for this, but scored 3 in the first half, and the Koreans scored 2 late on to get the nerves jangling. Maybe not the best quality defending, but some great attacking play from both teams.
- Australia 2-3 Holland – After winning against Spain 5-1, Holland were expected to hammer the Aussies. Tim Cahill scored a worldy, a Van Basten’ like volley from inside the box. Holland however did not roll over, despite going 2-1 down after a penalty. Robben was key in this one. Great game.
- Germany 7-1 Brazil – an obvious one, no need to explain why it was such a good game. 5 first half goals from the Germans. Classic! The day Brazilian football died.
- Belgium 2-1 USA – despite a 0-0 scoreline in 90 minutes, it was a great game Belgium were all over the Americans, but could not score. Minutes into Extra Lukaku scored, and another was added not long after. America pulled one back, but it was not to be. Brilliant game!
- Costa Rica 3-1 Uruguay – Uruguay were supposed to hammer Costa Rica, and the Central Americans were supposed to be the whipping boys of Group D. Despite leading at half time through an iffy penalty, Costa Rica stormed back and won 3-1 in an incredible performance.
- Germany 2-2 Ghana – At 0-0 after 45 minutes, this could have gone either way. Gotze scored in the first 10 minutes, but then the game took a turn nobody saw coming. Two goals in quick succession gave Ghana the lead. Enter Miroslav Klose. An equaliser 15 minutes from time left the game wide open. It ended, like we know, 2-2.
- Colombia 4-1 Japan – Colombia were all but qualified, and could have been forgiven for resting a few players. No, they battered Japan in the 2nd half, and showed the world they were no soft touches. One of the dark horses that really set the world cup alight!
- Argentina 3-2 Nigeria – another game expected to be a walkover, Nigeria scored inside 3 minutes, and conceded within another 90 seconds. Even after a stunning Messi free kick it did not dishearten the Super Eagles, who scored a few minutes after half time. Great game!
- Spain 1-5 Holland – the biggest shock in the group stage – everyone thought Spain were nailed on for at least a Semi Final. Spain had chances to go 2-0 up, but we all know what happened after that
- Switzerland 2-5 France – another classic game. France scored three in the first half and even missed a penalty, of which the follow up was put against the bar by Cabaye from 8 yards out. It took Switzerland a long time to score, but they got 2 goals back at 5-0 down to make it look a little more respectable.
There have been several teams in this competiton that have impressed when people expected them to fail. Here are our Top 3 Over Achievers:
- Costa Rica – In a group with 3 ex champions, Costa Rica were seen as the whipping boys. 1/5 to finish bottom, people saw it as an Acca booster. 50/1 to win the group – Ha! Nobody saw that coming. 3-1 vs Uruguay, 1-0 vs Italy and 0-0 vs England saw them win the group with ease, followed by a penalties win against Greece, and eventually a penalties loss to Holland. Top of the shocks!!
- Algeria – Halilhodzic’s men did a sterling job. In a group where they were expected to finish bottom, they beat South Korea 4-2, Drew 1-1 with a tough Russia, and narrowly lost 2-1 to Belgium. They took Germany to extra time in the Round of 16 game, losing 2-1 after extra time. The likes of Slimani, Feghouli and Bentaleb were prominent in their success. Our number 2!
- Holland – with an iffy looking defence, with no big names, people expected them to struggle to even qualify. But, Janmaat, De Vrij, Martins Indi and Daley Blind were immense – in fact it was their excellent defence that saw them finish 3rd! Lesson learnt, never underestimate the Dutch!
Well, there are plenty of choices for this! Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Russia…and so on. You then have the likes of Japan, Bosnia and the Ivory Coast. Here are our top 3 underperformers from this World Cup:
- Italy – Even with Uruguay and England in the group, they were expected to qualify. After beating England, they seemed to think ‘We will beat one of Costa Rica and Uruguay’. Arrogance that cost them, in the end. They lost both games, and looked pretty dreadful.
- Spain – Although obvious, we expected better, much better. They were dreadful in both games against Holland and Chile, never looking interested at all. The king is dead, Spain have a lot of work to do to get back to where they were!
- Bosnia – We could have easily said Portugal, but Bosnia, in their first World Cup, were pretty poor. Aside from a 3-1 win over Iran, they should have done better against Argentina when they had chances, and were awful against Nigeria who ran away 1-0 winners. Having played 4-4-2 for all of qualifying, Safic made the error of changing a winning formula. Very disappointing.
Top 5 Goals:
There were plenty to choose from – Messi scored 3 brilliant efforts from outside the box, including a free kick. Hamez Rodriguez scored 4 or 5 brilliant efforts, RVP – well you know which one! Luiz…Shaqiri, Cahill, Jones… well, lets get on with it. Our top 5 goals!
- James Rodriguez – A truly world class effort against Uruguay, a turn and volley from 25 yards out.
- Xherdan Shaqiri – Cutting in from the right, the Swiss boy-wonder pinged one into the top corner from well outside the box
- Robin Van Persie – Need anymore be said?
- David Luiz – Terrific free kick against Colombia, a worthy winner of a quarter final tie.
- Jermaine Jones – The American bent in a wonderous 25 yard scorcher into the far corner, with Rui Patricio not even bothering to move, whilst under pressure from 2 or 3 Portuguese players closing in on him. Top, Top Goal!
Well, that’s our gambit on the World Cup now it’s over. We have a couple of polls coming up soon so be sure to get your vote in!