Category Archives: World Cup

The Great Messi Golden Ball Farce

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Messi was positively jubilant after taking Fifa’s Golden Ball trophy

 

Last night Germany won the Fifa World Cup for the fourth time in their history, but before they could walk up some stairs to receive the trophy, Argentina’s Lionel Messi had to walk up the aforementioned steps to collect a golden football on a stick. Now this wasn’t just any golden football on a stick, but it was in fact the fabled Fifa Golden Ball trophy, which is presented to the best player of the tournament according to footballs world governing body.

What annoys me about this is that everyone knows that Messi wasn’t the best player at the tournament. After he shone in the group stages he was average at best and a shadow of his usual self. It seems as if Fifa gave it to him out of sympathy, because beyond that, there is very little logical argument which results in Messi deserving the accolade.  Below are some players who deserved the golden ball more and why;

Javier Mascherano; he had a far greater influence over Argentina after the group stages, personifying their fantastic defensive displays which got them to the final. Whilst Messi was shrugging his shoulders doing very little in the World Cup final, Mascherano was running around all over the place trying to stop the Germans any way he could. In this way he was far more deserving of the golden ball and was Argentina’s player of the tournament if not the best at the whole tournament.

Thomas Muller; named man of the match in two of Germany’s wins, the gangly forward scored an impressive 5 goals in 7 matches. Against Argentina he was less effective than in all of the previous games, where he ran riot, especially against hosts Brazil. Throughout the tournament his unpredictability caused problems and he didn’t have a bad game.

James Rodriguez; the tournaments top goalscorer lit up the tournament with 6 goals in the 5 matches, one of which being the goal of the tournament. Playing for a lesser known nation he catapulted Columbia into the quarter finals, where he was kicked out of the game by the cynical Brazilians. He truly was deserving of the golden ball trophy even if his side didn’t progress past the quarter finals, if they would’ve, he would have been a shoe-in for the trophy.

All of the above players deserved the award far more than Messi did, after what surely he himself would admit, was an average tournament. Notable mentions of players who also could have won it ahead of Messi go to Robben, Hummels, Neuer, Sanchez and Benzema. 

And with this my final World Cup post has been published and now we all have to live with the World Cup blues. It has been an incredible tournament with some outstanding games and a deserved winner in a genuine team, Germany. Now all that’s left to say is, see you in four years!

 

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Why YOU Should Support USA

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Team USA

With England out of the World Cup, it’s time to pick your second team. In 2010 it was Ghana, they shouldered the hopes of the continent, only to be dumped out unceremoniously by the ever popular Luis Suarez.This time around it’s time to raise our star spangled banners in support of USA and here’s why;

It would be great for the world of ‘soccer’ (when in Rome), if the US became a real force. Major long term support could provide the world with millions of enthusiastic fans as well as substantial commercial opportunities. The world game needs more than Europe and a couple of south American teams competing to survive and grow, it needs worldwide backing. This would see the games wealth more equally balanced and would therefore fuel genuinely compelling world competitions.

They are a real team. As a group of individuals they are weak, but as a group they are strong. They work incredibly hard for each other and disciplined, they all put themselves before the team. A team without ego’s is hard to come across but the US appear to have just that.

They are underdogs in the truest sense.  The USA defied expectation by reaching the knock-out rounds from the so called ‘group of death’. If they went one step further and beat Belgium it would be a great sporting story, the team that’s new to the sport beating a team filled with premier league stars.

So there really is only one more thing to say; USA!USA!USA!

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The England Autopsy

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The English Hopefulls

With the group stages of the World Cup over and teams like Costa Rica, USA, Algeria and Columbia through to the second round, it’s high time to analyse what went wrong for our plucky English underdogs.

Firstly it’s important to state that our English underdogs were not underdogs at all. The press had downplayed England’s chances so significantly as to raise the expectations back up again due to this lack of perceived expectation. As a result the England players yet again went into A World Cup under crippling pressure and after their opening loss to Italy, they looked like shadows of men, too afraid to receive the ball against Uruguay.

A problem seemingly ignored by the press is that Gerard was awful and was partially responsible for the three goals conceded at this World Cup. But then again he did spray the ball outside at awkward heights for his team-mates to receive, so maybe he deserves to be let off. In defence of Gerrard he had just completed a gruelling, yet disappointing season. However if this was in any way likely to hamper his performance he should of put his team first and let someone else have a go.

Another problem for England was there lack of finishing ability. Given the chances England had in the first two games at least two points were a real possibility. The ability to be clinical is what separates the good from the average on the world stage. As a result of this England dropped out. This lack of ability to finish our chances can be seen as a large reason for the disappointing early exit. However you cannot blame the personnel as both Rooney and Sturridge were clearly the best candidates in their position, it’s just slightly disappointing that they couldn’t replicate their club form on the global stage.

Two of the worst players for England were Everton duo Baines and Jagielka. Both of them looked completely all at sea. They looked incapable to deliver in major tournament football and the question has to be asked as to whether England would have been more solid with Cole and Terry occupying these positions. The answer to that question is almost resoundingly yes. Jagielka was particularly culpable for the Uruguay goals, mainly for not keeping his eye on Suarez, a threat he should of been all too aware of. Baines on the other hand was culpable for the Italy defeat, allowing Candreva to whip in dangerous balls into the England box, one of which resulted in Balotelli’s winner. Both of these players showed an inability to perform at the top level and therefore must shoulder some responsibility for the death of England’s unlikely dream.

But hey, it’s not all doom and gloom England fans, we did manage a unbelievably boring draw with Costa Rica to round off our role in the football festivities.

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An Alternate Take on England v Italy

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The media tirade surrounding Rooney is unfair

Watching England’s unfortunate defeat at the hands of Italy in Manuas on Saturday left me with mixed emotions and now that the dust has settled on the somewhat disappointing result, I thought why not review the game from my own opinion as well as reacting to the media response to the game. The general consensus in the mainstream media is that whilst England lost, they at least had a go and therefore the focus of the majority of the reports is on the promising performance of the losers.

In particular, Raheem Sterling was picked out for individual praise after his impressive first half performance. Whilst this praise is fair considering the problems he caused the ageing Italian defence, I felt that he was completely impotent in the second half and should of been taken off considering his increasingly lethargic movement from the beginning of the second half.

Another omnipresent story in the British media after the defeat was the continuation of the ongoing saga regarding Wayne Rooney’s place in the team, with many papers stating that he had an unimpressive game against Italy. I couldn’t disagree more. I, along with the nation have come to accept that a post-Euro 2004 Rooney is incapable of performing as he did in that tournament, where he tormented opposition defences with his direct running. For the first time since that tournament Rooney showed the same child-like enthusiasm and a willingness to take on a defender. This, as an England fan, was exciting to see. This coupled with his fantastic assist for Sturridges goal, capped off a promising performance from Rooney, The mainstream press are focusing on Rooney’s mistake in the match, which was the wasting of a decent opportunity. Although I acknowledge that that was an important moment in the match, it seems unnecessarily negative to disregard his promising performance to focus on the one miss. It’s even more unfair to create a media tirade aimed at getting Rooney dropped from the England starting XI. I believe this to be outstandingly negative and not useful journalism at all from the British media. Rooney is the one player in the team that strikes fear into the opposition and instead of supporting him, the media aim to weaken him and affect the decision making of Roy Hodgson.

Credit must be given to Italy, who produced a fine performance, reminiscent of their recent 2006 world cup triumph. They dictated the tempo and took their opportunities when they came. Above all this they adapted to the temperature much better than England, due to their almost monopolization of the ball. After this performance I fully expect Italy to go far in this tournament. A place in the quarter finals is the bare minimum that this side can now go on to achieve.

From an English perspective, I think they will go on and qualify second in the group. Costa Rica made Uruguay look a thoroughly average team and their reluctance to play Suarez shows just how unfit he is. The problem area for England is certainly at the back where Jagielka looked out of place in the international stage and Baines looked extremely vulnerable. In my opinion these two positions would be much stronger with Ashley Cole and John Terry occupying them, but that’s a separate issue altogether. I feel that the so called “young lions” showed enough to display that they are capable of stepping up to this level and I expect us to outscore both Uruguay and Costa Rica, but a place in the quarter finals is the best I expect England to do, which is not to say that that is a disappointing outcome.

Keep enjoying the footie,

Joe

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