The first weekend of the 2014 World Cup is done and there have been some amazing games which have taken place in Brazil. From the demolition of Spain by Holland to the shock defeat of Uruguay by Costa Rica. A last minute defeat for Ecuador against Switzerland and Honduras playing rugby more than football against France, this World Cup has been spectacular so far. We now look at the hits and misses from the past game week.
While all eyes were on Neymar, another Brazilian played his skin off in their opener against Croatia. Oscar was a constant menace from the right wing and bombarded the Croatian defense with some great crosses and brilliant runs. Sure Neymar got the limelight thanks to his two goals but it was Oscar who was the constant threat during the game and got his reward in the last minute when he toe poked a goal into the net.
The pain of losing out in the 2010 final must have been fresh when Holland faced Spain in their group opener. Robben was on fire and took on the Spanish defense head on, he was sublime and it seemed he had turned back the clock to put on a vintage display. Tearing the Spanish defense to shreds he helped erase some pain of the 2010 loss, he scored twice and could have scored more against the Spanish.
Robin Van Persie:
Robben was ably helped in the demolition of the Spanish Armada by another Flying Dutchman, literally. Van Persie flew in to score the equalizer, probably the goal of the tournament so far and scored another goal to complete a rout; he could have had a hat trick but he hit the cross bar once when he blasted a shot with his right foot right from the edge of the penalty area.
The German manager of Switzerland also makes it to the list. His team was losing against Ecuador and seeing this he decided to turn it around by bringing on Mehmedi for Valentin Stocker in the 2nd half and the move paid off, when Mehmedi scored from a corner. Seferovic who had come on for Drmic grabbed the winner in stoppage time, 2 substitutes by Hitzfeld led to the 2 goals that helped Switzerland win.
The Costa Rica forward was one of the few players that everyone had heard about when they turned up to play against Uruguay, one of the more fancied teams from the South American continent. He was a constant menace against the Uruguayan defense and he smashed in his team’s equalizer before he set up the third goal for an improbable win in the group of death.
No one really knew much about this player before the World Cup, Darmian plays for Torino and was selected into the Italian team thanks to a great season for Torino. His performance against England was brilliant, Cesare Prandelli had to put Darmian up in place of Mattia Di Sciglio since the latter was injured and in just his 2nd cap for Italy, Darmian produced an amazing display and was bombarding the right flank all night long, certainly a player to watch out for.
Roy Hodgson played Raheem down the middle for England and he grabbed the chance. Raheem was brilliant all game and he carried his superb Liverpool form to the World Cup, he could have scored right at the start with a rasping drive which just was wide and was the best player for England against Italy. There certainly are calls that he should not be dropped and should be played down the middle yet again for their next game. Let’s hope Roy stays as adventurous as he was against Italy.
For all the good, there must be the bad and here are the players who did not shine but put up rather dire performances on the biggest stage. Playing in the World Cup is a once in a lifetime opportunity and these players not only let themselves and the team down but also infuriated a lot of fans. Here are the misses from this game week:
Roy Hodgson decided to play Rooney down the left and keep Raheem Sterling down the middle, one worked and one didn’t. Rooney put on a dreadful display down the left, he might have assisted for the English goal but apart from that he was invisible, there have been calls for him to be played down the middle or be dropped completely, the latter seems a possibility now.
Saint Iker was not even the first choice goalkeeper for Real Madrid last season and while some may doubt that decision by Carlo Ancelotti, he was always going to be the number one for Spain. Casillas though had a torrid game against the Dutch and was culpable for one of the 5 goals they conceded, some might even point out his positioning was incorrect for the first goal he conceded. His performance was so dire that he even came out and apologized by saying that was the worst performance of his career. He needs to step up soon if they want to qualify for the next round.
There was a lot of furore when Costa decided to play for Spain rather than the country of his birth Brazil. He was booed every time he touched the ball against the Dutch and only managed to put up a drab performance. A big money move to Chelsea may work out for him because he would be playing for Jose Mourinho but the only people happy with this performance are the Dutch and Brazilians.
France was given a relatively easy group in the World Cup and their first match was against Honduras. The Hondurans decided to play the Stoke way and were out kicking lumps out of the French. Palacios was a serial offender and got booked for a tackle on Pogba before picking up a second yellow card and gifting France a penalty which Karim Benzema converted. Although Honduras would probably have lost the game anyway, going down to 10 men is not something expected from such an experienced player.
This Japanese referee took center stage for all the wrong reasons in the opening match of the 2014 World Cup. With Croatia leading host nation Brazil, the referee blew to give Brazil a penalty when Fred was touched by Dejan Lovren, it was a very very soft penalty and most pundits did not like that call. Neymar scored from the spot kick, despite a lot of protests from the Croatian players. The referee even disallowed a goal for the Croatians for a foul by Olic on the Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Caesar. The World cup is supposed to be a spectacle for the players to perform not for the referees to hog the limelight.
Much was spoken about attacking threat of Uruguay, even without Luis Suarez, they should have won easily against Costa Rica. Cavani had a really poor game along with strike partner Diego Forlan. They probably underestimated the opposition and in the end they did not deserve anything from the game. The entire Uruguayan team played rather poorly against Costa Rica and if they don’t steady the ship fast, it could be the end of the tournament for them.
So there you have it, the hits and the misses from the first week of play at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.