A wonderful first week of World Cup action has absolutely flown by with goals galore, which means its a great time to look at who have been the winners and losers from the first six days of action.
A change in formation, a young squad and the reigning world champions to begin their World Cup campaign; hardly a cause for optimism for the Dutch you would have though. How things change; the Netherlands absolutely hammered Spain with what is without doubt the performance of the tournament so far. Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben were the obvious standout players, but youngsters like Daley Blind and Bruno Martins Indi played their part too. Expect to see the Dutch go far if they continue to play like that.
Fans of attacking football
After South Africa, where we had the lowest scoring tournament in recent history we could have been forgiven for thinking we would be in for something similar in Brazil. However so far we have been treated to an absolute goal fest, with an average of over three goals per game and still no goalless games with the first round of group games almost over. Obviously things will tighten up when the knockout stage begins but for now let’s enjoy the goals.
England’s Young Lions
Despite the defeat to Italy in their opening game the performance of England’s young players has given Roy Hodgson cause for optimism. Ross Barkley played well when he came on as a second half substitute and Daniel Sturridge took his goal well but the stand out performer was Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling. The youngsters pace frightened the Italian back line and he looked positive in everything he did. Surely he will start their crunch game with Uruguay where he could run rings around the aging Diego Lugano.
Although the standard has improved slightly as the tournament has proceeded it would be hard to get any worse. First we were treated to one of the softest penalty in World Cup history as Japanese referee, Yuichi Nishimura did his best to help Brazil over the line in the opening match. That performance was followed up by another shambles as Mexico had two legitimate goals ruled out before a case of ‘third time lucky’ as they scored a goal that wasn’t ruled out.
Goalkeepers & their defences
Whilst we can agree that the all-out attack mindset adopted by a lot of teams has contributed to the crazy amounts of goals we have seen some keepers let themselves down big time and their defenders haven’t been much better. Croatia’s keeper could have done better with all three Brazilian goals in the opening match, whilst Iker Casillas gifted Robin van Persie a goal, following a first touch of a man who has spent the majority of his season on the bench. We have also seen jittery moments for Brazil, England, Spain and Portugal in defence to name but a few.
So whilst the World Cup has a long way to go and some ‘losers’ still have a chance to turn their fortunes around I for one am just looking forward to more entertainment.
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