Monday, July 14, 2014

The Infamous XI of the 2014 World Cup

The World Cup is over and people will generally create their "Team Of The Tournament" and debate which players performed the best in the World Cup. However following up on my Infamous XI of 2010, I will also select an XI of players who were remembered for the wrong way this World Cup in 2014.

Manager - Luiz Felipe Scolari - Brazil
His coaching CV looks pretty good leading Brazil to win the World Cup in 2002 but it's not often a World Cup victory will be forgotten due to a single defeat. As Scolari stated ""I'm going to be remembered probably that I lost 7-1. But that was a risk I knew I was taking." and the responsibility for the loss rest with Scolari "The catastrophic result can be shared with the whole group ... but the results, the person responsible, is me." For that alone, Scolari will be the manager of this team as he will be forever remembered for managing Brazil to the worst defeat in their history whether that is fair or not. 

He's here for the worst goal keeping error of the tournament. The South Korean team were peppering the Russian team with long shot throughout the game perhaps suspecting a weakness in his game. A speculative shot by Lee Keun-Ho went straight to Akinfeev for what seems like a regulation save. Unfortunately Akinfeev fumbled and he desperately dived unsuccessfully as the ball went over the line. South Korea drew the match 1-1 and the drop points were crucial in the early elimination of Russia from the tournament.

Cameroon was the worst team in the tournament that was symbolises by instability and infighting. Pre-tournament there was problems with players arguing on bonus being paid to the team and the players even strike refusing to leave the hotel when they were scheduled to fly to Brazil. The disastrous 4-0 defeat to Croatia ended with the defining moment of their campaign when Benoit Assou-Ekotto headbutt Benjamin Moukandjo and required team-mates to separate them. 

Portugal entered the tournament as dark horses with high hopes for them to at least make it to the knockout rounds. However 2-0 down,  Pepe hand knock Thomas Muller face and although Muller may have overreacted and went down hard. Pepe went up and head butted Muller and was promptly send off. This ended any possibility of a comeback and Portugal capitulated to a 4-0 defeat. Considering that Portugal was eliminated via goal difference, this was potentially the pivotal moment that realistically ended their campaign.

The story from hero to zero. After scoring a spectacular free kick against Columbia, David Luiz was celebrated by the Brazilian public and was the toast of the town. He was given the captaincy arm band after the suspension of Thiago Silva for the semi-finals. What should have been one of his more proud moments in his life soon turned sour

He was heavily criticised for his performance especially him making adventurous runs in the midfield leaving the midfield expose and his poor marking for the first Germany goal as well as his poor leadership and his inability to regain composure after the early goal. 

Afterwards he was a subject for mockery about his $50 million euro transfer to PSG. 

However the defining image of the World Cup would be David Luiz post-match interview where he was in absolute tears and it's hard for even the biggest detractors to not feel sorry for him

The man that broke the back of Neymar and broke the heart of Brazil.

On the 87th minute, Juan Zuniga in an act of negligence kneed Neymar in the back. Neymar had to be stretchered off and it was revealed a fractured vertebrae. Neymar revealed that it was only a few inches of causing paralysis and was happy that he wasn't in a wheelchair.  No card and no punishment was given for this act which was quite surprising from an Australian perspective seeing controversy over spinal injuries in other codes and then seeing nothing done when a near miss occurred in Football.

Juan Zuniga became the number 1 villain of the World Cup for the Brazilian public where he received death threats and extra security had to provided for him and the rest of the Columbian team.

It's not often where a defensive midfielder is given the tag of the worst miss of the tournament. Spain was 2-0 down and desperately needed a goal. When the ball arrived to Sergio Busquets he just needed a solid connection for him to tap into an open net. He horribly mistimed it as the ball harmlessly went wide off the post as Busquet collapse holding his face in shame. Spain despite numerous chances were unable to score and the defending champions were eliminated from the World Cup.

Honduras were one of the most physical side in the tournament and that was encapsulated by Wilson Palacios send off in the opening match against France. 

Palacios ended up stamping on Pogba's leg and then continued to kick him when Pogba was trying to retrieve the ball. Knowing he was in trouble, he then added a dive to the mix in trying to cover up his brutality. He was lucky not to be send off there and then and he only received a yellow card. Later on a rash challenge on Pogba that gave away a penalty and he was send off in an act of stupidity and Honduras collapse to a 3-0 defeat. 

When Cameroon was trailing 1-0 Alexandre Song in a moment of madness elbowed Mario Mandzukic in the back. Playing with 10 men, Cameroon capitulated to an embarrassing 4-0 defeat.

However there may be more to this event considering that Cameroon are being investigated for match fixing with 7 players being implicated when convicted fraudster Wilson Raj Perumal, accurately predicted the 4-0 result and the fact that a player would be sent off. I can only hope that there isn't anything more sinister to this send off then simply an uncharacteristic mindsnap from Alexandre Song.

He probably only made this side due to lack of competition in this position as this event happen when the match was already lost at 3-1. Ante Rebic who came in as a substitute in the 69th minute to turn the game for Croatia. Instead in the 89th minute he dribbled inside the box and stuck his foot out in a dangerous tackle towards Carlos Peña and got himself an automatic red card.

In some ways it's harsh to put Robben on this list considering that the biggest controversy was the penalty decision that won the match for the Dutch and replays shows that he was actually fouled even if Robben was theatrical about it. 

Nevertheless Robben was diving throughout the match as shown in this video () and after the match he admitted to diving even if it wasn't for the penalty 

However whether he was a villain or not, Robben performance against Mexico sparks controversy and debate about diving in football and he would be remembered for that in this World Cup as long as with his sparkling performances. The following match he was continually booed every time he touched the ball by the Brazilian crowd and his reputation caught up to him where the referee ignored him being consistently fouled.

The only player to made both my list in the infamous XI in 2010 and in 2014. Suarez created the biggest controversy of the tournament where he bit Giorgio Chiellini in the arm and then seeing him collapse to the floor holding his teeth. The fact that he was this was the 3rd biting offense and the bizarre unrepentant attitude from him and the rest of the squad who denied the bite ever happen. He was suspended for 4 months and arguably contributed to Uruguay defeat against Columbia. 

He was dropped from Real Madrid in their league match and was replaced by Diego Lopez and only played in Europe. Suspect performance in the UEFA Champions League final creates question mark whether his selection in the squad was due to sentiments rather than performance. In the end those doubts was prove correct due to a poor tournament and was widely criticised for his performances against the Netherlands in the 5-1 defeat and against Chile in the 2-0 defeat. However missed out on the first XI as his mistakes was when Spain were already behind in the match. A sad end to a great career.

Marcelo - Brazil
Arguably the worst individual performance of the World Cup. Virtually all of the attacks went down the left back zone and the pattern of the play was Marcelo making a rampaging run down the left and then Germany taking advantages of the space. He probably had a hand in half of the goals Brazil conceded although he wasn't alone in that regard.

The first red card of the tournament was due to an excellent volley from Maxi Pereira. Unfortunately it was to the shin of Joel Campbell instead of the ball.

Sulley Muntari - Ghana 
The Ghanaian team were striking and threaten to boycott the deciding match against Portugal due to unpaid fees. However Sulley Muntari took the dispute to new levels where he committed an unprovoked physical attack on Executive Committee member of GFA Mr. Moses Armah and he was sent home from the tournament. 

Made a terrible two footed lunge on the shin of Kim Shin-Wook that earnt him a red card.
A studs up challenge on Frenchman Lucas Digne that earn him a straight red, Also notable that it was the 2nd red in 4 games as he got a red card in the warm up match against England as well after getting in a fight with Raheem Sterling.

Diego Costa - Spain
A flop of the tournament and played poorly. Created controversy with a questionable penalty and then headbutted Bruno Martins Indi that wasn't picked up by the referee but was picked up by his manager who promptly subbed him off.

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