World Cup 2014 Updates
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Many football fans have showed dissatisfaction after the Argentine star Lionel Messi managed to win the Player of the Tournament Award. The same people have repeatedly claimed that Messi has been absent during the knockout-stage of the Tournament, especially failing to bring the Cup to Argentina. However, a person with a neutral  football-based mindset knows that's not the way to look at it.

Messi with the World Cup Golden Ball trophy
First, let us look at how people expected things to happen. Many envisioned Aguero being the top scorer of the World Cup with Messi supplying him with assists, i.e. Messi being the play-maker of the team. Others saw Di Maria having a significant impact to the team's overall performance. In General, we expected to see a dominating Argentina side that'll win the group stage games with a 2-3 goal margin. However, what happened was completely different and unexpected.

As the first game for Argentina against Bosnia and Herzegovina kicked off, we expected Argentina to crush their opponents, to easily dominate the game. However, as the referee whistled the final whistle of the 1st half, we had seen an offensively disappointing Argentine side, with no major goal-scoring opportunities except their single goal that was actually an own goal. As the second half progressed, things were getting worse, until Messi showed up with a moment of brilliance, scoring a fascinating goal with the help of Higuain, saving Argentina. However, that wasn't the highlight of the match. The general outcry of the game was clear. Messi was all alone to do all the job of carrying the team on his shoulders. Why? Aguero, one of the best strikers in world football, happened to be out of form, with Di Maria failing to add impact. This idea was proved in the remaining group stage games, as Messi scored 3 goals in 2 games to solely give Argentina an early Qualification to the knock-outs. Until then, it was safe to say that without Messi's brilliance, Argentina would not have progressed any further. As the game vs Switzerland kicked off, we had hoped that some other players in offence would show up. The match was first going the same way the previous matches went, with Argentina not providing the expected display.

The game even went to extra time, and was going towards the penalty shootouts, when Messi, with another moment of brilliance, dribbled past a player and gave a key pass to Di Maria that finished the ball in the net. Again, it was Messi who took the responsibility of handing his team qualification, however, how long will it be his and only his responsibility to be Argentina's savior? Now that Di Maria has gotten injured, and Aguero has also been injured for a while, Messi was LITERALLY alone in offence with out of form Higuain only succeeding in scoring 1 goal against Belgium that gave Argentina the qualification they needed. Argentina then played Holland in a very tight draw with limited scoring opportunities for both teams, with Argentina being the dominating side in terms of possession. The game was decided by penalty shootouts to the advantage of the Argentine, they had reached the final. As the final kicked off, the majority of people were rooting for Germany to win the game.However, the game progressed to witness two solid sides, with Argentina being better with a small margin.The first half saw some Messi runs and dribbles, especially that sprint on the wing escaping Mats Hummels and creating a chance.However, at half time, Argentine coach Sabella took out Lavezzi, that was doing a great defensive job, to replace him with the out-of-form Aguero. 'Argentina had been playing with two lines of four, with Enzo Perez closing Philipp Lahm and Lavezzi doing the same on the other side. Because they were so compact Messi could walk while defending and then when he got the ball he had the energy to make the difference' Jose Mourinho stated commenting on Sabella's decision. The game progressed to extra time, and was on the track to reach the penalty shootouts, just when Mario Gotze puts the ball in the net with a classy volley after a Schurrle cross. It was over for Argentina as the match ended with a 1-0 win for Germany.

In this final stage, Messi wouldn't have scored or assisted, but that's not the only criterion to describe a player's performance. Messi had been playing with a team that lacks attacking midfielder, with the strikers of the team not being up to the required level, especially in the last 2 games. The World Cup is a team trophy, no player even with the greatness of Messi could win it alone. Yet, Messi finished his World Cup with 4 goals, 1 assist, most chances created (23) and most successful dribbles (46), with being involved in 71.4% of the goals of the runner ups. That isn't as and as people claim. We should also consider that Messi wasn't playing in his natural position, having to go back to central midfield to claim the ball. He even made defensive track-backs, and that's not the job of a forward like Messi. Here's how Jose Mourinho commented on Messi's performance ' He sacrificed for his team. He wanted to win, rather than be the best or win the Golden Ball or Golden Boot. Messi is in the national team to try to make history, and because of that, in the World Cup, he moved in zones that aren’t his. Argentina’s game didn’t allow him to play where he feels most comfortable.' 'When Sabella brought Aguero on for Lavezzi, Argentina changed from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 and they lost a lot of balance. Messi had to run much more after Lavezzi went off,' he added. To conclude, Messi has done great achieving all the previous results with a team that lacks offensive options. So, did he deserve the award?

Article contributed by: Mahdi Anani

Twitter: @AboSaleh_313

 England is the country that created the lovely game of football. This should suggest that they would naturally be the dominant force at international level, but as we have witnessed over the past few years, this is certainly not the case.

England manager Roy Hodgson

Every time a world cup comes around, the whole nation gets excited only to be left heartbroken by a series of dismal performances by their team again. This pattern has been repeated quite a few times now, and it seems that it does not matter which players are representing their country, or which man is at the helm, England are bound for failure at the big stage. But when we look at the group of individuals in the squad that England possess, they were undoubtedly one of the strongest sides in the world cup on paper. So what went wrong?

The only thing wrong with the Three Lions is their manager, Roy Hodgson. The fact is, simply, Roy Hodgson is not good enough to be in charge of the team. No matter how you look at him, you will find faults, be it in a tactical, motivational or man managing way.

First off, Hodgson made some ridiculous gambles with his team at the world cup. Firstly, Roy played Gerrard in a two man midfield alongside Jordan Henderson, which turned out to be suicidal as expected. Gerrard does not have the legs to play in that role, and this clearly affected his performances, as we saw him create two clear cut scoring chances for the wrong team, both of which Luis Suarez gratefully slotted home to win the match. Secondly, Hodgson played Wayne Rooney as a winger against Uruguay, despite starting Danny Welbeck and Raheem Sterling in the same match. Rooney, a lethal centre forward or central attacking midfielder, was deployed on the wings. As expected, Rooney had a dismal match despite picking up an assist. The reason that Rooney cannot play as a winger is because tracking back is not Rooney’s best quality, nor does he have the pace to get up and down the pitch in an instance, which both Welbeck and Sturridge have. Rooney should have been played centrally, or not been played at all, because there were better ‘wingers’ on the bench, like Lallana.

Motivation was also virtually non-existent, and Hodgson failed to lead his team to make a comeback. We often see managers shouting at their players to inject some urgency into the play, but Roy usually looked relaxed in the dugout despite his team playing lifeless football.

When you look at how the players play for their clubs in the Premier League, and compare it with how they play while representing England, the transformation is mind-boggling. The quality in the players is present, but unfortunately the manager just does not know how to utilize it.

After the disastrous world cup campaign, the head of the FA publicly backed Roy Hodgson. This is a nice thing to see, especially when most managers’ stints are quite brief nowadays, however the question remains whether or not the FA are backing the right person.

The English media claimed that Hodgson and the team should draw their inspiration from Germany, but that would not be possible, simply because the English team does not have the depth or quality of the squad that Germany do. England can, and certainly should, however, draw their inspiration from lesser teams who were not expected to do anything at this world cup.  An example of this would be Jurgen Klinsmann’s USA, who played neat, attractive and pretty football at this world cup, which ultimately got them farther than Hodgson’s England. Klinsmann did not have many big named players at his disposal, with the only real well known players being Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and Jozy Altidore. He did, however, manage to make his team play in an efficient manner, where they kept the ball and usually managed to create some golden scoring opportunities. Even teams like Algeria managed to stick to their manager’s ideals when they played a compact formation against Germany, which almost paid off.

Looking towards teams like Germany would be foolish, because at the moment England are playing worse football than the likes of USA and Costa Rica. But England certainly do have a quality squad, and a group of players who will only get better as they gain experience and mature. Should Roy manage to get the team playing in an efficient, neat and tidy manner, England have a great chance of going head to head with some of the elite international teams and come out on top. But is that really possible with a tactically inept manager in charge?


Article contributed by: Mayank Tiwary

Twitter:  @ VanPerseing.

06:22 1
The 5 Surprise Packages from the World Cup 2014

5. Enner Valencia (Ecuador)



Not many had heard about Enner Valencia before the start of this world cup; however after Ecuador’s world cup was over, he was being linked with big name teams such as Arsenal. Not many expected Ecuador to qualify for the knock-out stages, however due to Enner Valencia’s three crucial goals in the group stages, the loyal Ecuadorian fans got something to celebrate. At the end of the world cup, Enner Valencia can be proud of himself as he stood level with the likes of Karim Benzema and Arjen Robben in terms of goals, despite playing in significantly fewer matches.


4.  Xherdan Shaqiri



Playing in an ordinary team with high hopes, Xherdan Shaqiri stood out amongst the rest of his Swiss teammates during this world cup. His brilliance can be summed up with his sublime hattrick – which consisted of an emphatic shot in to the top corner. The Bayern Munich winger always found a way to entertain the crowd, albeit with his pace, trickery or his venomous shot. Ending the tournament with 3 goals to his name, we can safely say that Shaqiri has made many big named European clubs stand up and take notice of him.

3. Andre Schuerrle 




Andre Schurrle often found himself on the bench due to Joachim Loew’s persistence to use Miroslav Klose ahead of Schuerrle. What Loew could not ignore, though, was the brilliance that Schuerrle brought on to the pitch. The Chelsea forward was a nightmare for defenses throughout the tournament, with his pace, slick passing and lethal finishes often embarrassing the opposition. An example of his lethal finishing would be that goal in the humiliation of Brazil, labeled to be one of the, if not the, best goals of the tournament. Ending his world cup with 3 goals and 2 assists, Schuerrle has made sure that neither Loew nor Mourinho can ignore him in the future.

2.  Toni Kroos




In a German side filled with playmakers of equal ability as Kroos, not many expected him to have the impact he did at this world cup. The German midfielder thrived in the role that Loew gave him, which was slightly more advanced than Khedira or Shweinsteiger, who made up defensively while Kroos concentrated on building up the attacks. With his extraordinary eye for a killer pass, Kroos adapted to the role which was more familiar to Mesut Oezil in this world cup, forcing Loew to play Oezil on the wings. Kroos notched up 4 assists this world cup, second to none, while also contributing 2 goals. His dead ball delivery has earned him a comparison to David Beckham, another dead ball specialist. His brilliance also earned him interest from the Champions League winners: Real Madrid.


1. James Rodriguez




With Colombia’s main man Radamel Falcao ruled out of the tournament, many believed that this would spell disaster for the side. However, James Rodriguez stepped up to the plate and delivered on the biggest stage of all. The Monaco winger light up this world cup with his incredible eye for goal. James managed to lead Colombia into the quarter finals, where the jubilant side was unfortunately beaten by host nation Brazil. Despite this, James managed to win the Golden Boot for his spectacular performances, making him a cult hero in his home country. The winger has now attracted Florentino Perez’s attention, who sees him as the ideal replacement for outgoing Angel di Maria.

Article contributed by: Mayank Tiwary

Twitter: @VanPerseing.

Netherlands players celebrating the team victory

Netherlands made Brazil's World Cup campaign look worse after the latter ended losing another match due to a very sad defence. Netherlands claimed the third sport in their World Cup campaign with a 3-0 win.

In the third minute of the game, Arjen Robben was brought down by Thiago Silva at the edge of the penalty area, which resulted in a penalty in favour of the Dutch. Robin van Persie converted it into a goal after netting from the penalty spot.

In the 16th minute of the game, Daley Blind scored his first international goal after capitalizing on David Luiz's poor clearance to the centre of the Brazil box, easily settling and finishing by sending the ball past Julio Cesar.

The 3rd and the final goal of the goal came in the stoppage time, by Georginio Wijnaldum, bringing an end to Brazil's competition. The hosts had lost the semi finals to the mighty Germans by 7-1 and now they take fourth place in the competition. The world now awaits Sunday's final when Brazil's rival Argentina will play with Germany for the ultimate trophy.

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Some beautiful pictures related to the game:


A couple displaying their banners


A brazilian supporter during the game


Netherlands team supporter cheering for her team












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Argentina beat Netherlands 4-2 on penalties after a hard fought 120 minutes battle, followed by a tensed penalty shoot-out, to face the mighty Germans in the finals of the World Cup 2014.

Argentina players celebrating their victory

Although Messi is the main man heading into the final, but their semi-final victory over Netherlands will always be remembered as Javier Mascherano’s moment of glory. On at least three occasions, Barcelona star Javier Mascherano saved his side as the team showed defensive brilliance that Brazil lacked last night.

After a magnificent atmosphere had been built up by the two sets of supporters in the hour leading up to kick-off, the players did their very best to dampen spirits entirely in the 120 minutes that followed.

There were not many chances created by either teams during the first half. Ezequiel Garay’s header from the left corner was the closest attempt. Messi's free-kick, which was easily held by Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, was the only shot on target during the first 45 minutes of the game.

Lionel Messi taking a free-kick for Argentina.

During the second half of the game, some amount of panic was felt by both the teams to score goals, but the gamplay remained almost similar. Arjen Robben went so close to scoring just in the dying minutes before full time, but some extra time taken by him to shoot allowed Mascherano to show a fantastic display of his defending capabilities.

That game-saving tackle from Mascherano.

The Dutch team's first real shot came in the 99th minute, which went straight into the hands of the Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

The game which was said to be a battle between Messi and Robben ended up with some brilliant works of defence by Ron Vlaar and Mascherano, who made sure that the match went to the penalties without any goals scored.

Vlaar made sure that Messi did not get a single touch in the box.

Ron Vlaar and Sneijder were the two Netherlands players who missed the penalties, which made way for Argentina to the finals.

Argentina's goalkeeper Sergio Romero saves a penalty from Netherlands' Wesley Sneijder.

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Some beautiful pictures during the game:

Some amazing fans during the match.




Dutch fan showing up a banner during the game.

Arjen Robben consoles his young son who is in tears after the penalty shoot-outs.


Sergio Romero with the Man of the Match trophy
Hot Dutch supporters.
Argentina supporter before the game.

Netherlands supporters cheering for their team!!

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Dutch team celebrating after their win

Netherlands go to the semi-finals after defeating Costa Rica on penalties. The last minute substitution by Dutch team, taking off Jasper Cillesen and putting on Tim Krul, for the penalties seems to be the key reason for their win after the Newcastle United goalkeeper saved two penalties from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana in the shoot-out. Netherlands will play Argentina in the semi final.

Tim Krul coming on for Jasper Cillesen just before the penalty shoot-outs

Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas proved it once again why he is being compared to one of the best goalkeepers in the tournament and managed to keep the game goalless till the extra time of the game.

Van Gaal switched from 5-3-2 to 3-4-3 to make way for Dirk Kuyt and Danny Blind after Nigel de Jong's injury.Costa Rica’s amazing performance against Uruguay, Italy and Greece seemed to have taken little out of them given their energy levels. Their defence was admirable as the Dutch team were not allowed to circulate the ball in speed. All the same, Robben’s presence can spread anxiety in any back line. Junior Diaz and Michael Umana both earned yellow cards for tripping Arjen Robben.

With eight minutes of normal time remaining, Gonzalez committed a foul on Robben, which did look like a dive. Sneijder's free-kick nearly produced a goal, shooting the ball over the wall from the left corner of the penalty box and against the near post.

Netherlands (3-4-3): Cillessen (Krul, 120); De Vrij, Vlaar, Martins Indi (Huntelaar, 105); Kuyt, Wijnaldum, Sneijder, Blind; Robben, Van Persie, Depay (Lens, 76).

Costa Rica (5-2-3): Navas; Gamboa (Myrie, 79), Acosta, Gonzalez, Umana, Diaz; Tejada (Cubero, 97), Borges; Campbell (Urena, 66), Ruiz, Bolanos.

Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzb)

Some pictures of pretty ladies during and outside the game:


Netherlands supporter cheering for her team during the match.


Costa Rican girl smiling during the game.




Jale Berahimi, Costa Rican reporter.
Jale Berahimi, Costa Rican reporter.

Rihanna posted this picture on twitter after the game, showing support for Holland.

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France players celebrating their victory

France overcame a tough Nigerian test to progress to the quarter finals in the World Cup for the first time since 2006.

France scored 2 second half goals through Pogba and an own gold from Yobo to set up a quarter final match with either Germany or Algeria. Those two teams play Porto Alegere at 8pm tonight (UK time).

Both teams to be evenly matched in the first half, Nigeria had a goal ruled offside and Pogba had a wonderful volley saved by the Nigerian keeper. The second half was dominated by Didier Deschamp's side and they got two goals for it. The first a good header from Paul Pogba in the 79th minute broke the deadlock.


Paul Pogba after his goal

Before that France had a shot cleared of the line and a Cabaye volley hit the bar. France wrapper up the match in injury time when Yobo sliced into his own net from 6 yards out.

In my predictions (read them here), I predicted a trashing for Nigeria and I didn't expect much from them going into this match. They surprised me though and they put a good first half performance. Sadly they didn't replicate it in the second half and they were knocked out. France overcame a small blip and I wouldn't call it their best ever win but they struggled through.

Article contributed by: Luke Blackstock

Blog: theblackstockblog.wordpress.com
Twitter: @LukeZB99

Costa Rica win and go through to the quarter-finals to play against Netherlands

Costa Rica win and go through to the quarter-finals to play against Netherlands. The national team was able to keep their World Cup dream alive after defeating Greece 5-3 on penalties, after a 1-1 draw at the end of 90 minutes.

Costa Rica took the World by surprise when they reached the last-16 round with 7 points, competing with teams like England, Italy and Uruguay.

Costa Rica conceded a goal to Sokratis Papastathopoulos in the injury time (91st minute), making the fans feel the heartbreak and giving hope to the Greeks.

The Greeks dominated the game and kept on attacking since the Costa Rican defender Oscar Duarte received his second yellow card of the game and was sent off.

Greece had many opportunities to score but were denied by the excellent Costa Rican defence at many occasions. Costa Rica's goalkeeper Keylor Navas was the hero of the game after saving Theofanis Gekas' penalty. Costa Rica have come this far to play the quarter-finals for the first time.

Keylor Navas was the hero of the game after saving Theofanis Gekas' penalty


Costa Rica also failed to make the most out of their created chances. The first goal came in the 52nd minute when Brian Ruiz converted the pass from Bolanos. Ruiz took a shot from 20 yards and sent the ball to the back of the net.

The first goal came in the 52nd minute when Brian Ruiz converted the pass from Bolanos. Ruiz took a shot from 20 yards and sent the ball to the back of the net.

Costa Rica were in a very comfortable stage untl they were reduced to 10 men at the 66th minute. Duarte got his second yellow for a sliding tackle on Holebas.

After this incident, Greece kept on attacking and putting pressure and were finally rewarded in the 91st minute. Papastathopoulos was the one to score after a rebound from the keeper from a shot from Gekas.

Navas' efforts did not go in vain and soon a number of his saves inspired the defenders, who came with very important blocks in the first half of extra-time.

Some pictures from the day:


Amazing pic from Athens as thousands of fans get behind their team at Panathinaikon stadium
The only thing we will miss from Greece in the World Cup. Beauties!!

The streets of Costa Rica during the game

A Costa Rican beauty supporting her team with Costa Rica flag lipstick on
Costa Rica's World Cup reporter. 

Costa Rica's World Cup reporter. 

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World Cup predictions: Round of 16


Brazil vs Chile

This will be a good match. Two strong sides against each other and the atmosphere in the stadium will be amazing. I expected Brazil to win but it won't be easy for them, Chile will give them a good game. Chile played well against Spain and if they set up the same way against Brazil then I won't be surprised of they win. Despite this, I can Brazil can do it. I'll say 2-1 Brazil

Holland vs Mexico

This will also be a good game. Holland looked great against Spain but they haven't recaptured that form in the rest of their group games. Mexico was kept in the tournament by an inspired performance for their goalie Ochoa. I think the Netherlands will win this one and I think that they will like the did against Spain against this Mexico side. If they do it could be a trashing. 3-0 Holland.

Columbia vs Uruguay

Two South American teams facing off at the famous Maracana stadium. Without Luis Suarez, whose two goals against England helped them to get to the knock-out stages, Uruguay might struggle. In their first game, against Costa Rica, Suarez didn't play and Uruguay were well beaten. If they play like they did that day against Columbia then Columbia will easily win. Columbia played very well in the group stages and I think that they will have the power to see off Uruguay. It will be close but I'm going to say 3-2 Columbia.

Costa Rica vs Greece

This was not a tie that I expected at all. Costa Rica were impressive throughout the group stage and managed to get out of a group that they were totally written off from. Greece (who ate the subject of my next blog post. Read it at theblackstockblog.wordpress.com) needed a 90th minute penalty to get to the next round of the World Cup. If Greece play like they did against the Ivory Coast, I think they can nick it. 2-1 Greece.

France vs Nigeria 

France are another team who have looked impressive throughout the tournament so far. Nigeria were lucky to get to the next round and I think that they will be completely ripped apart by France. That said, I expected them to be destroyed by Argentina but  they played quite well. I think they will lose though. 3-1 France.

Argentina vs Switzerland

Argentina have look great so far and I think that they will be at least semi-finalists. To get their they need to overcome the Swiss. They are a good side but no where near the quality of Argentina. A solid win for the men in blue and white here. 2-0 Argentina.

Germany vs Algeria

Germany have been quite inconsistent this World Cup. After a great win over Portugal, they followed it up with a draw with Ghana. They weren't great that match but Ghana were very good. A 0-0 draw with the USA completed their group stage. Germany could have done better and I'm expecting a win here. Algeria were lucky to get through the group and I don't think they'll be getting any further. 2-0 Germany.

Belgium vs USA

Mark Wilmots' young Belgian stars have been good so far and I expect them to overcome the test of the USA. The American's were good against Germany and Portugal but failed to win either of those games. I don't think they'll win here either but they'll put up a fight. 2-1 Belgium.

My predictions give me these quarter finals:
Brazil vs Columbia
Holland vs Greece
France vs Germany
Argentina vs Belgium

Article contributed by: Luke Blackstock

Blog: theblackstockblog.wordpress.com
Twitter: @LukeZB99

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