At the end of week 2 of the World Cup, we take a look at some of the hits and misses over all the matches.
When you see players obediently standing behind the line for free kicks, almost afraid to step beyond the line, you have to laugh at how insanely simple this idea was and bang your head at the ineptness of FIFA that they could not think of this much sooner! The referees are certainly having fun with it, whipping out the spray at every opportune moment. It’s safe to say that the spray is here to stay.
It seems that managers have come to the end of all possible iterations in terms of tactics. That could be the only explanation considering the extensive use of wing backs in this tournament. Mistakes have been made defensively, but the attacks that have been launched from the flanks have been a treat to watch, with Netherlands Blind proving a particular hit in that position.
After the disaster that was the Jabulani in the previous World Cup, it has been a major relief to see that this edition’s match ball does not have a life of its own. As a result, players seem to be more confident about long range shots, and goalkeepers are pulling off some wonderful saves now that they can guess the trajectory of the ball with more accuracy.
Is this the tournament in which Lionel Messi shrugs off his critics by putting in match winning performances for his national side? So far, that certainly seems to be the case. While Argentina have not exactly convinced anyone that they can go all the way, it is now 2 games in 2 that Messi has scored the winner, with the latest one being a particular delight. If he continues in this vein, he will once and for all put to rest the debate of who the best player of this generation is.
Spying on opponents
This one had me in splits. A report that a drone flew over the France national side’s practice is certainly not one that you normally see. But it happened, and whoever decided to go the extra mile with this tactic, certainly gets our vote!
The art of defending
It seems there has been a collective decision taken by all the teams to forget defending in this tournament. The defending has been so atrocious in this World Cup that even the champions of the art, the Italians, have been suspect. Of course, on the flipside, it has made for some very entertaining games, but anyone who enjoys the entire game and not just the goals will feel aggrieved at the lack of defensive discipline among the players. It is safe to say that this World Cup would be won by the team that has the least worst defence.
They may have played their hearts out, they may have been a lot better watch than the horrible Euro 2012 campaign, but in the end, England have once again come up short when it comes to delivering on the world stage. They had a reported entourage of 72 people, from psychologist to turf specialist, but all the preparation came to nothing.
Which brings us to an even bigger disappointment, the Spanish national team. In what most people are calling the death of tiki-taka, the Spain team lost both their opening games, just like England, but with the added humiliation of conceding a lot more goals. Spain continue the tradition of the defending champions having bad campaigns, and they certainly have matched the humiliation faced by the French side in the 2002 campaign.