Not particularly positive messages to take from one of the best international tournaments that I can recall. Although the tournament had those aspects, it was also the stage for new stars to shine, James Rodriguez in particular, doing his reputation no harm. It was the moment when a decade and a half long project finally achieved its target, with Germany lifting an international trophy. It was the moment when Miroslav Klose became the greatest ever World Cup goalscorer. And it was also perhaps the moment when US Soccer fans finally fell in love with the game.
Throw what they could, and try as they may, the Belgians seemed destined not to beat Tim Howard, and his performance in that game was just one of a number of world class goalkeeping displays. Manuel Neuer seems to have cemented his place as the world’s best goalkeeper, and has set the standard for how a goalkeeper should perform, both in, and out of, their own box.
Money has been passing between hands ever since the World Cup kicked off. Acting as an international auction house for the worlds best players, it was inevitable that the transfer merry go round was set to go into overdrive because of this tournament. Luis Suarez the most high profile name switching sides as the tournament progressed, but he is not the only one. Cesc Fabregas slunk back into London, Luke Shaw, Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana jumped from the Saints ship, Alexis Sanchez bolstered the ranks of Wenger’s gunners, and Diego Costa has arrived at Stamford Bridge.
Away on the shores of Rio, and in the tropics of the Amazon, each player was not only playing for their nation, and for the victory, but they were also using the occasion to promote themselves to those who were watching. If the world is a stage, then the World Cup is the chance to take part in the most compelling show there is. The players knew that, and many from the lower ranked teams would be hoping that their performances on the pitch caught the eye of a Premier League scout or two.
Gambling as you do when scouting players at international tournaments, the hope is that the new signings this summer will perform as well for their new team, as they did for their national team in Brazil. Real Madrid will no doubt be delighted if Toni Kroos were to continue to perform at such a high level. The Bayern Munich man declaring today, that he will not be at the Allianz Arena for much longer.
FIFA have Russia to look forward to in four years time, but perhaps more pressingly they have the issue of Qatar that needs addressing. The World Cup preparations there, and indeed the decision to host the tournament there, have become a tragic fiasco. The money, the deaths, the allegation of corruption, all this and more needs to confronted and rectified if FIFA are to achieve any sort of success in 2022.
And as well as looking to the future, FIFA must also look at the present. The protests, the demonstrations, the huge public disapproval of the tournament, and the costs associated with it. Is this something that will become a trend? Or was the Brazilian case simply a one off? Either way, the enjoyment and approval of the host nation should not be something so easily dismissed and ignored at future tournaments. It is no wonder Sepp Blatter was widely booed each and every time he appeared on the big screen at stadiums.
Brazil themselves need to join FIFA, and perform a thorough evaluation of their actions and their role in football. Luiz Felipe Scolari made the right choice in resigning after his team self-destructed in the semi final. The next boss not only needs to return to the Brazilian brand of football, but he also needs to support and lift those young stars who were witness to a South American football suicide. The images of Germany putting seven past Julio Cesar may stay with Neymar and co for some time.
Should they reinvent themselves, and should they recover, I can guarantee that it will not be by playing Fred or Jo as a striker and then taking essentially four defensive midfielders. With the likes of Coutinho, Lucas Moura and Robinho left out of the squad for the tournament, we were never going to see a classic Brazilian footballing team. Fernandinho, Paulinho, Ramires and Luiz Gustavo all essentially play the same position, and there was no need to be taking four of the same player.
Put away your British stiff-upper lip and anti-German feeling for a moment, and you have to admit that seeing the old enemy run rampant against a team as mighty as Brazil, was an awesome sight to watch. The ten minute blitz where four goals were scored is something unheard of in a World Cup semi-final, perhaps even the World Cup itself. Like an international recreation of Liverpool versus Arsenal at Anfield, I was once again left completely astounded by what I was seeing.
People have been saying that perhaps Lionel Messi did not deserve the golden ball award, for the best player of the tournament, and I have to say I am inclined to agree. At times he was masterful, single-handedly dragging his team to victory, but there were long periods of games whereby he was anonymous. We know the skill and quality he has, and we saw just how vital his goals were, but in terms of performance, there are members of the German team that were consistently better. Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Manuel Neuer, and Mats Hummels were all exceptional. Messi is lucky that he did not get beaten to the award by his Argentinian teammate Javier Mascherano, who was equally as awesome as the Germans.
Before the World Cup I predicted that England would fall at the first hurdle. In reality they did even worse than this. They did not even get out of the starting blocks. It was a woeful performance by the England team and should serve as a wake up call, telling everyone involved that major work needs to be done in order to bring them up to standard. Such revamping was done by the German team after their dismal failure in Euro 2000, and now look at where the Germans are.
Profits appear to drive the domestic game, with players demanding higher wages, and agents requiring bigger fees, so an international tournament is a welcome break from this dollar-sign-chasing. The players are not playing for the increased salary, the goals bonus or multi-million pound signing on fee. They are playing for their nation, and playing with their heart. The tears during national anthems, the continuation of the singing when the music had stopped, and a goalkeepers beaming smile and hug to his manager when he is allowed to have three minutes of World Cup game time, all this shows that the World Cup is special. There is magic in the tournament, and it is essential that this magic remains.
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This article was originally published on TitanBet on 14th July.
I am particularly proud of this article.
When TitanBet first contacted me to blog for them they said that I could be as creative as I wanted.
I held back from the politics, I reserved any comments about the Brazilian protests, the apparent corruption of FIFA, and the fact that I am opposed to gambling.
Seeing as the World Cup was over though, and I was set to part ways with TitanBet, I thought that I would do something a little different for the final article.
Have a look back at the article above, but now only read the first word of each paragraph.