Roy Hodgson will be kicking himself after watching how this World Cup has played out. And, to be honest, some of my enjoyment went when England crashed out after just two group games. It does spoil your mood. For the talent we have in this England squad, to not get to the third game was a complete disaster.
Germany have been the outstanding team, but others have been patchy.
For example, if this World Cup had been anywhere but Brazil, the home nation have struggled to get out of the group.
And the defending hasn’t been brilliant, has it?
It’s frustrating that England under-achieved by so much when you see Costa Rica pushing Holland for a place in the semi-finals, and for the Dutch to only win on penalties. Could England really not have beaten that Dutch team?
Too many players have been inconsistent
This World Cup has shown that you didn’t need a team of brilliant talent to get to the later stages. Holland’s 5-1 win against Spain was an early highlight for them but apart from some inspired Louis van Gaal decisions and outstanding play from Arjen Robben, they’ve been inconsistent as a team. Yet, they were still on the brink of a World Cup final, with the Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar their man of the match against Argentina.
Other than the Germans, not many players have consistently performed at the highest level. For Colombia, James Rodriguez getting six goals and two assists in five games was a great achievement. But Lionel Messi has been hot and cold. Portugal had a poor World Cup. Neymar scored a few goals, but other players let him down, big time, and he carried the nation on his back. It was too much to ask of him.
I sat in disbelief watching that Brazil v Germany semi-final. Brazil were a shambles. They were all over the place. Phil Scolari and the team have taken so much abuse after the 7-1 trashing but please, let’s give more credit to Germany. They were brilliant. To beat Brazil in Brazil 1-0 would have been an unbelievable result.
Any club would love that Germany midfield
I know David Luiz, Dante, and Marcelo were a disaster and much of what I’ve seen since the game is about how bad Brazil were. But really, some of the goals Germany scored were out of this world. If you were English and saw that performance from us, I’d want there to be more noise about how good we were, rather than how poor the opposition was.
It goes to show how important Thiago Silva, especially, and Neymar were to Brazil. Without them, they imploded. But Brazil had not been great throughout the tournament, as I’ve said previously. They played ugly football and, against Germany got found out, big time.
When you look at Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger – any club in the world would love that midfield. They’re proper players.
Against Brazil, I thought Khedira might be the one sitting back to break up play but it was Schweinsteiger, at times almost playing centre half, dictating play. Khedira and Kroos were powering forward, Marcelo couldn’t handle Thomas Muller, and the goals and performance were a joy to watch. It was sensational.
This Germany team is a million miles from the one I played against in England’s 5-1 win in 2001. Then, they had big, strong, decent players, yes, but someone like Carsten Jancker up front had nothing like the poaching quality of Miroslav Klose, or Muller. At this World Cup Germany have goals in every position – even the back four. It’ll be a travesty if they don’t win it.
How the World Cup Final could be won…
I was stunned when I heard the Messi stat that he hadn’t touched the ball in the opposition penalty area against Holland. That’s incredible for any number 10, let alone for the best player in the world. Was that good defending by Holland or bad Argentina play? I’m not sure. Messi has scored four so far in the tournament but, like the rest, he’s been patchy. Maybe Messi is saving the best until last. But if Argentina want to win, he needs to live up to the comparisons with Diego Maradona more.
Against Holland, Javier Mascherano was the best player on the pitch, despite being nearly knocked out. He’s known as a hard character, and more as a tough-tackling midfielder (or centre half) than a playmaker but he hit some really nice long passes that night. Mascherano needs to have the game of his life to stop Khedira, Kroos and Schweinsteiger.
The key play…
The Argentina left back, Marcos Rojo, will have a job looking after Muller. He might not go past people, but Muller is such a clever runner and, when Kroos gets on the ball, Argentina could be in trouble down this left side. Germany could get an hour out of Klose too, at 36 – and there’s every chance of him grabbing another goal and Muller seems to score so many important goals – he set the ball rolling the other night.
Sunday, July 13, 8pm (RTE2, BBC1, ITV)
Estádio Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
I wouldn’t be surprised if a dogged, defensive Argentina steal something (which would really rub salt in Brazil’s wounds) but I can’t see Germany not winning. I expect them to win 3-1 (a 20/1 shot). They are the superior team and, after four semi-finals on the trot, having never gotten over the line, they deserve it now with this team.
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