One year ago, someone asked me who would hoist the World Cup in the Maracana. I said that Germany and Brazil would face off in the final and the Germans would raise the Cup. It was a straightforward question and I provided a clear answer but that was long before the groups were made and so much more has happened since that time. (I, personally, wish I wrong. France is my team and I wanted Ivory Coast to make it very far because Drogba is my favorite player.)
That same person of course asked a few other questions including who else would make the semi-finals and what impact it being in Brazil would have for the host nation. I answered Holland and Spain, and that if the tournament was not in Brazil, the hosts would not make it as far. Simply put. But again, a lot has transpired and it’s worth discussing some of the key points. Here are a few to wrap up the 2014 Brazil World Cup.
1. The Germans were the best balance of talent and teamwork throughout the whole tournament. That is why they won. Add a few fortunate events in their favor in the final and everything works out in their favor. You could easily argue that they earned those favorable happenings including some awful misses by the Argentine strikers.
2. Despite a poor performance, or rather effort, in the final, Messi was the best single player in the tournament. I’m not saying he deserved the Golden Ball, he wasn’t resilient enough in the final to cement the award, but he made the difference in the group stage and the first knockout stage to send Argentina through. I was shocked by how far Argentina made it, although their path was not the most challenging. Robben and James obviously were the clear contenders for that award. Robben, however, reflected a negative behavior of football by diving often, and James already received the Golden Boot, so the choice is not unreasonable.
3. Injuries had a major impact on results. Some teams were far less fortunate than others. I think France would have made the quarters and even semi finals with Ribery. I think the result of the Germany-Brazil match would have been different with Neymar (and Thiago Silva). With a healthy Aguero and Di Maria in the final, Argentina may very well be holding the World Cup. But the best part of the World Cup is that anything can happen and while we feel bad for those players, such is the nature of the game. I do wish Neymar a full recovery.
4. Some outstanding young players helped themselves get noticed on this grand stage. Alexis Sanchez was immediately signed to the Gunners after his explosive performances. Ochoa and Navas showed themselves to be competitive with some of the biggest names in keeping in the world. James, again, raised his stock immeasurably by carrying an average Colombian team into the knockout stages among a very challenging and potentially second group of death.
5. Finally, the former champions who I still see as the best team in the world failed miserably to defend their crown. While I did think Spain would make the semis, I was not surprised to see them exit early. Italy suffered a similar fate after winning in 2006 with an awful performance in South Africa. Every player on Spain has accomplished many great feats in the world of football and it really just seemed as if this World Cup did not mean much to them. We will see how they rebound.
In exciting news, my club team (Arsenal) has revealed some nice new Puma kits while Manchester United has revealed some hideous Nike/Chevrolet kits. I am anxious to see what Adidas has in store for Man U. Congratulations to Pogba, James, Neuer, Messi, and Germany! I hope everyone continues to watch football even though the World Cup is over. Don’t forget… the women’s World Cup will be in Canada next June so if you are planning on attending let us know because we will be there!
Playing football is an amazing way to build a strong lower back, and stay hungry and fit!