Sunday 29 June 2014

World Cup Thoughts

At the midway point of the World Cup and with the group stage now over, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on the tournament so far.

Best thing about the World Cup

The goals, the great games. but most of all having a World Cup in South America. It's something many fans have never seen before. It's not just a Brazilian World Cup but a Latin American one.

Any game featuring Chile or Argentina have become almost home games for those countries. Their supporters have been amazing.

Most disappointing thing about the World Cup

Brazil is the most ethnically diverse country I've ever been to but this isn't reflected in the stadiums.

FIFA's ticket prices have priced out many ordinary Brazilians from attending and this has meant the crowds have been largely white reflecting the significance race and class have in Brazilian society.

Here's a great article on the subject.

Best Match

There's been so many, but I'm going to go for Holland's destruction of Spain. It was so dramatic seeing a footballing empire collapsing right in front of your eyes.

Best goal

I loved Messi's goal against Iran. Just when his country needed him, he produced something truly special.

Biggest surprise

Like many people I'd totally written off Costa Rica. In no scenario could I see them topping a group featuring Italy, England and Uruguay.

In the end they deserved to finish top. Costa Rica's success shows there are no minnows at the World Cup and that football is becoming a truly global game.

Best player

He's a familiar face and has been around for years, but I think Arjen Robben has been brilliant for Holland.

Star players performing

I said at the start of the tournament that I wanted to see the world's star players turn up. This is exactly what's happened. Neymar and Messi have both carried their teams so far.

Neymar in particular seems to love being the main man for Brazil and is thriving on the pressure.

Most entertaining team

I always enjoy watching Chile, but I'm going to go for Colombia. First time they've reached the last 8 of the World Cup. Great achievement for them.

Unknown star to emerge

Has to be Colombia's James Rodríguez.

How have I missed this guy? He was sold to Monaco from Porto for huge money but still seemed to remain under the radar for many people. Not now though. 5 goals already including this amazing strike against Uruguay.

The team is greater than the individual

We've seen the likes of Neymar and Messi shine despite rather uninspiring performances from Brazil and Argentina. Star players will always have the quality to win a match with a moment of brilliance.

However, we've seen many teams such as Chile and even Holland who have what on paper seem to be fairly average international players but collectively they're forming strong teams.

Having a collection of good individuals isn't enough - this World Cup is showing that you have to have system and a style of play in which you form your team around.


If going out in the first round isn't a wakeup call for England and English football I don't know what is. At every tournament we keep saying things will change, things will get better but I'm not so sure.

There's needs to be a real revolution with English football. We need an identity, a system and style of play that all levels of England teams play from under 19, 21 and the full squad.

We need more tactically aware players and we have to accept that unless we're prepared to change our philosophy and identity, then just reaching a World Cup final is as good as it will get for us.

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