The World Cup’s group stages has not been a disappointment. Most of the matches have been exciting! Half of the time I’ve seen spectators have more impressive celebrations than those doing the business. Where ever you are viewing it or if your stealing your neighbors cable or internet it is a glorious event and seems to stir something in the heart you might not have realized was there. That passion for the sport of soccer is definitely growing especially with the success of the Yanks advancing to the oh so sweet 16.
Here were my predictions pre-tournament:
Third Place: Germany
Fourth Place: Belgium
Now I must reflect on my shortcomings and triumphs. Three of the four teams I had in the “final four” are still alive and well thankfully. The biggest disappointment of the tournament is definitely the Spanish Armada. They played very timid football and uncharacteristically their defense got absolutely torched. They didn’t show any creativity or urgency in the attacking third. A very poor poor result and I expect that Del Bosque’s job as coach maybe in jeopardy, but given he won the last World Cup and Euro 2012 he may be cut some slack. The biggest disappointment on the Spanish roster is goalkeeper Iker Casillas. He is without a doubt a shadow of his former self and his name seemed to get him in the starting 11 over his game. David De Gea definitely should have got the nod from 22 Jump Street.
The most impressive team has to be Colombia, playing without the incomparable Radamel Falcao they have still managed to ball out. Could you imagine the duo of Falcao and James “Take a Bow” Rodriguez? Sickening Sickening thought! Colombia was dominant in all their group matches and helped me save face with my predictions. The controversial manner in which the Greek reached the knockout stage have Ivorians worldwide shaking their head Michael Jordan bobblehead BIRMINGHAM BARONS style. Was that a penalty? I would say that’s debatable but with a place in the next round on the line that referee made a ballsy call especially with no time remaining. If Fifa deems it was indeed an incorrect call I hope the elephant men will accept Fifa’s fruitbasket as a peace offering.
Brazil have at times looked very sharp but far too often they depend on Neymar to juke 5 defenders and score with his magical touch. The mediocrity Brazil has shown in the group stages will need to be eradicated if they intend on hosting a bomb party for the Selecao faithful. I didn’t think Mexico would show up playing football so tactfully and move so fluidly, plus the man in between the post, Guillermo Ochoa has made some saves that just makes you scratch your head and say how did he do that???
Concacaf has represented the region quite nicely as all 3 teams Mexico, USA, and Costa Rica have advanced to the Round of 16. That has to be a first and a good merit for Concacaf moving forward. Costa Rica has made me and a lot of other analyst look like dofus’ perhaps there maybe a role for me in the next terrible Dumb & Dumber remake. Now get ready for Dwight Howard to have a month of shooting 70% from the free throw line and Hell to serve Icy Kool-Aid. Costa Rica took the bull by the horns and came up big in Group D. I am still shocked that they topped they group and more importantly aided the exit of two footballing giants, Italy and England.
England once again needs a culture change because their is too much talent to be playing boring football. As I expected the only player that really went for it Is Daniel Sturridge. Rooney once again continues to shrivel under the biggest lights. To be fair to Rooney he didn’t play horrible yet he didn’t standout as the boss on the pitch. Italy fell victim to a crazy animal named Luis Suarez. Right after his patented bite on defender Giorgio Chiellini the Uruguayans earned a corner because of Suarez who should have been sent off for the bite and Diego Godin lifted the spirits of his country with a timely header in the 81st minute.
For me the two teams I would want to witeout the Spaniards with are the French and Dutch. France has looked like the team similar to the one that won the Jules Rimet trophy back in 98. It helps that coach Didier Deschamps was apart of that illustrious team with Zizou (Zidane) to let the lads know the process of becoming a world champion! The French are defending as a team and attacking dangerously as well. Sad that Franck Ribery was not fit enough for the tourney cause this French team would be even more deadly. The Dutch are attacking extremely well and have threats all over the field. Robben and Van Persie have clearly been running things in each of their three matches.
The Group of Death (Group G) lived up to its moniker. One of the most exciting groups to follow especially for our Yanks. Every game was very exciting even Germany’s 4 to nil clinic of the Portuguese. “Mayday” groans the inhabitants of the Iberian peninsula. The biggest star of the group Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t 100% but he still did his thing and was quite dangerous. The Americans emerged out of the fire and head to the sweet 16 with a date with the waffle makers. Team USA looked very exciting attacking and possessed the ball better than people thought possible. The Germans looked very sharp as always and Thomas Mueller has a quiet way about scoring goals. Such a passionate and composed player in front of goal. He really doesn’t seem all that good but season after season and tournament after tournament he shows out.
Tounaments top goal scorers:
Messi (ARG) (4 goals)
Thomas Mueller (GER) (4 goals)
Neymar (BRA) (4 goals)
Karim Benzema (FRA)( 3 goals)
Arjen Robben (NED) (3 goals)
Robin Van Persie (NED) (3 goals)
James Rodriguez (COL) (3 goals)