The third week of the greatest show on earth saw the completion of the group games, some teams had already booked their place in the knockout round while others still had a chance of making it through. The knockout rounds also started in the third week, providing a lot of heart stopping and heart breaking moments, believe me there have been quite a few already during this World Cup.
Here we have a look at the hits and misses from the 3rd week of action.
Hits of the Week
Most of us go gaga over the attack minded players; Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar were constantly under the spotlight but the rise of another class, the goalkeepers this particular edition of the World Cup cannot be ignored. Keylor Navas, Claudio Bravo, Guillermo Ochoa and Victor Enyeama all have played their part for their respective teams and have put in some stellar performances. Most of these keepers will end up playing for some big club in Europe thanks to their performances.
Algeria, Costa Rica and Chile; maybe we can leave Chile from this list. The Algerians and Costa Ricans have been impressive during the World Cup. Costa Rica topped, yes, topped the group of death by finishing in front of England, Italy and Uruguay while Algeria finished ahead of Russia to book their place in the knockout rounds. Mexico and Chile also played some exciting football, gaining a lot of respect from fans and oppositions alike.
The US national team:
Considering that Football or “Soccer” is not one of the prioritized sports in the US (Baseball, American Football, Basketball and Ice Hockey being the main sports), it has been a joy to see the Americans do well in the World Cup, yet again. They qualified from their group and have been a breath of fresh air. To top it all, the American players don’t “flop” or “play act” like some of the other teams, hopefully they can instill that into the other teams.
Comparisons between Messi and Maradona still continue and while people debate about Maradona getting the job done for Argentina, Messi finally seems to have gotten his boots on for Argentina. It looks like he has decided to take Argentina all the way to glory by himself. His performance against Nigeria in the final group game was brilliant, especially that free kick. A South American team could lift the World Cup and it could be Argentina.
Hames, as his name is pronounced has been a star at the World Cup, having scored 5 goals until now, this includes a wonder goal against Uruguay. The big European clubs are getting their checkbooks ready to try and sign him up from Monaco, they would need to pay over the odds to sign him but that would be money well spent. However, the Columbia number 10 has already spoken of his favored destination, Real Madrid.
Misses of the Week
Spain, Italy, England, Russia, Portugal and Croatia were expected to make it out of their group but this World Cup has thrown up a lot of unexpected results and these teams failed to make it out of the group stages. The most shocking performance was from the defending champions Spain and England as the latter finished with just 1 point from their 3 matches, their worst performance in a major tournament.
Money is the root cause of all evil, whether you believe that statement or not, Ghana and Nigeria surely needed some assurance that they were getting their appearance fee for the World Cup. They boycotted training, even going to the extent of refusing to play until they got an assurance from their governments about getting paid. I guess they were watching too much of Jerry Maguire, “Show me the money!”
Coming into the tournament, the Ballon d’Or winner was expected to light the tournament up, however his performances for Portugal weren’t up to the standards he set at Real Madrid. Reports of a knee injury and the other Portuguese players going missing did not help. At 29 years of age, this could have been his last chance at World Cup glory.