Yes “Yellow Fever” is going around the World Cup, now don’t worry its not the sickness but the fans and their team color. For all of you out there that have been living under a rock, the World Cup is on today and the must watch game is Brazil vs Colombia. Probably the 2 top teams from the Americas will be battling it out today for bragging rights and stay alive to be one step closer to the World Cup final.
Although these two team have great over all players they each have a player that have been putting the weight of the team in their backs and made the big difference on the field. Brazilian super star Neymar and Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez have been the focal point of the tournament to this day. These 22 year old players have been shooting on target with incredible precision and are the top 2 player to win this year’s Golden Boot. With no doubt this two will leaves it all on the field today and I’m predicting electricity all over the atmosphere when they take center stage with the whole world watching. Now Brazil has not shown any consistency while playing which is not ideal for it to be happening at this stage of the World Cup and its one of the reasons Neymar has been getting Brazil out of the hole in most of their matches, while on the other hand a very young Colombian team look very consistent, fresh and most importantly they look like they are having fun(which reminds me when Brazil had Ronaldinho, R. Carlos, Ronaldo, Rodinho…). Even though Brazil is home and most fans will be rooting for them I like how Colombia has been playing and their concentration, which is why I pick them(Colombia) to win 3-2 over Brazil, Neymar with two goals and James with just one.
Ones again the MLS has made a big headline after Orlando City SC announced that they have come to agreements with Brazilian football star and legend Kaka. We have been seeing an big interest from the the US league to look for big names in this sport, mainly Europe based players, and come play probably to attract more fans or maybe even higher quality players. Same case when a new MLS team, New York City F.C., emerged not long ago and signed Spanish forward David Villa in a great attempt to sign good quality talent(while the World Cup goes on) and surround Villa with a team worthy of a crown. We have seen this types of management moves with L.A. Galaxy, signed Beckham, and NY Red Bulls, signed Thierry Henry. Looks to me that the MLS has a bright futures, if teams keep emerging and the fans keep growing this league, teams and their owners have good firm soil to grown on a football market dominated by Europe.
We cried blue murder at the time.
It was a crime against humanity,
Not an act of spontaneity
From the digits of a deity.
Still, the next week, each lunchtime,
We were all doing it.
Any aerial challenge became
An opportunity for divine intervention,
With an asphalt Ascension
Into a playground pantheon
Of class-war champions
Beckoning for anyone who could
Pull off a palm of providence
And although our clumsy
Sleights of hand were always exposed,
Like a bungled party trick,
It didn’t stop us from trying
To create artistry out of artifice.
It has been a short, crazy and hectic week for me but even more so for football fans and FIFA with all the games from this World Cup. Its has been a complete adventure for those who don’t known a lot of the sport, but for all those out there who do follow the sport closely it has been a wild roller coaster ride, with many ups and downs. From the down fall of last World Cup champion to an “underdog” team overcoming all obstacles and odds to stay alive and keep going to the next round. If you haven’t learned anything from the sport or this blog, learn this: “there is no such thing as a small enemy”; over confidence can kill you particularly in this sport, one minute you have the ball the next your opponent is shooting for glory.
Just to recap and touch bases: Group A, Brazil(the home team and favorite) passed to the next round with hard to score Mexico; Group B: Netherlands and an electric Chile took Spain down and out and will go on; Group C: A perfect Colombia and slow pace Greece where the teams to beat; Group D: Latinamerican powerhouses Uruguay and Costa Rica showed Europe who is boss. After Thursday games we will have a full mockup of all the team that will take on the next stage of the World Cup and know who will play against who. Until that day come, keep the cheer on.
Today’s FIFA action had eight teams on the field but the most important game was Mexico vs Croatia, on a do or die duel. This match would determine if Mexico would keep his position on second place(go on to the quarter final) or would Croatia put the pressure on high and get a win to knock Mexico to the third place.
First half starts and right away Croatia dominates possession of the ball but did find it hard to get throu Mexico’s defence to get a clear shot, or anywhere close to the goal for that matter. Not a lot of important plays on the first half except for one great goal shot from Mexico’s striker, Hector Herrera, which hit the corner of the goal post and gave the Croatians a small sign of relief.
Second half is more of the same, Croatia with the ball pressuring on to make a goal and take a 1-0 lead. this kept going until minute 62′ when Mexico’s coach desided to make a substitution, taking Giovanni out and putting “Chicharito” Hernandez( a fast player who runs and moves without the ball,looking for opening), from this point on the game took a diferent path. It looked as if Mexico had a boost of energy, they where getting to the goal, better shots and finally it happened; a Marquez header would bring the Mexican fans off their sits and change the score 1-0. Not long after that(3′ minutes to be exact) a beautyfull play from Hernandez was turned into a pass to a completly alone Guardado for Mexico’s second goal, minutes after that a centered pass was filtered for a great opportunite for Hernandez to head a goal, this put the game 3-0. With Croatia completly broken it look to me the score would end up like it was, but I was wrong Croatia started a play on the left side field and after a behind the back pass, Perisic took the best look to goal and converted, ending the game 3-1 Mexico victory.
A team’s success and/or failure can’t be put on the shoulder of one man or blame it on a single event. It is a series of events and actions (done or that should had been done) that determine the end result of that which you are looking to accomplish. From the simplest of coach’s decision and player’s behavior on the field to the location of the field you are playing in could decide the outcome of any match. This are the top reasons you can’t blame Spain for not winning the 2014 World Cup.
Last World Cup shocker was Netherlands’ impressive run and even greater shock for the so called underdog to reach the finals, where they would face Spain. We all know who that went they were equally matched and no way of knowing who would come out of it victorious. Well this year it seems Netherlands doesn’t want to leave anything to chance and they proved it by slapping Spain on the face for a wake-up call. Louis Van Gall, Netherlands coach, has been preparing his team and making changes, one of the most important the team’s formation. Usually Netherlands would use a 1-4-3-3 but used a 1-3-5-2 instead which Van Gall thinks gave them the edge, even said if it wasn’t for the formation they would had lost. Also give credit to the Netherlands veterans who are leading the way and making sure they keep the pace. Arjen Robben told FIFA.com: “we need to stay focused…” right after the destruction of the Spain in the first game, it seems they know what they want.
2. History and statistics
Their has only been two back-to-back repeats in the history on the World Cup, the most recent was for Brazil in 1962; as you can see right off the bat they were against the odds. Beside those repeats the champion would have probably been taken out at the quarter finals or in the first round just like Spain, which became the fifth team to fall in the knockout stage(the other teams were: Brazil, France and Italy, twice).
3. Poor coaching
Under normal circumstances the head of a team would be the coach; this means that if the coach makes a wrong decision the whole team will probably follow, it might have something to do with Spain early knockout. Coach Del Bosque took some outrageous decision on not using Pique for a stronger defensive line, specialy when they saw themselves on a 1-0 hole against Chile. Now on the offensive side, maybe it was not a good idea to start Diego Costa(a rookie in the World Cup) on both games, too much confidence on him from the coach. Del Bosque also played a recent injured Sergio Busquets whom I believe did not look good enough to play yet. Now it’s not the coach’s fault, but a big part of loosing might come from their loss of Carlos Puyol do to retirement, he was the heart and the leader of the Spainiards in and out of the field specialy on the defence.
On paper the Italian team was the better team and team Costa Rica was just another underdog, but on the field it was a completely different story. Just as I’ve been saying since the start of the tournament: “there is no small team in the World Cup”; case and point yet one more Latin-American team looking to show why they are in it, Costa Rica. This team just played such a tactical football, which many who follow the sport know Latin-American teams have, but don’t see as much.
Italy was at times very sloppy handling the ball, but the real difference was Costa Rica’s strategy to put two defenders on Pirlo (the play maker for Italy) which broke the Italian’s offense. Even though 58% of the game Italy had possession of the ball they could not catch a break, in fact the only clear shot to goal for them was at the 30′ when Pirlo made a great pass, through the air, to an alone Mario Balotelli who could not control the ball. Costa Rica pressed the ball very high on the field looking to cut a pass and shot for goal; they are playing intelligent football on the defensive side, anticipating passing lines moving so the Italians would find themselves offside, they made the Italians look like amateurs.
The end result, a Costa Rica historic win other Italy 1-0, which means it’s the end of the road for England after losing to a strong Uruguayan team 2-1. If Costa Rica keeps up this style of game I can see them moving up on their world ranking and many new faces on the European leagues and clubs.