With the 2014 World Cup done and dusted, the time has come to look back on five things to have surfaced from the biggest tournament in football.
England still need improvement
A 2-1 loss to Italy in their opening group game was not too surprising to most, the next game against Uruguay however would be vital. An inform, apparently slightly injured, Luis Suarez was to all bet shatter the three lions dreams. Italy's loss to Costa Rica would condemn their fate.
Despite deciding to leave veteran and world renowned left-back Ashley Cole at home and instead go with a young and fresh squad, Roy Hodgson's men failed to progress from their group. He did however take old guards Wayne Rooney, Captain Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard (the latter never making an appearance in the opening two games). Rooney was felling the pressure from the media and the fans having not prioduced a decent performances throughout the last few tournaments. Having missed a glorious opportunity in the opening game, he was determined to make up for that in the next game, which he did. After tapping in a Glen Johnson cross, it seemed liked he'd finally began to put his tournament nightmares behind him. His then Liverpool rival Suarez sent him rushing back to reality with a bang!
the real big picture was there for all to see. The group outsiders Costa Rica finished top with two wins from the opening two games. they had no real world class talent and their only known players were Fulham's Bryan Ruiz and Arsenal's Joel Campbell. Their organisation and determination shone throughout their campaign.
England must look at their next tournament progression to what their team actually needs. Can they win a tournament within the next ten years? Possibly, but probably not. The new guard are worming their way into the frame with Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling and Luke Shaw all included in this years world cup. All three play for top teams in the Premier League. Shaw has recently completed a mega-money move to Manchester United, Sterling is cementing his self into Liverpool's senior squad and Barkley is fast become a major player in Roberto Martinez' rising Evertion side. Will players of this ilk hold the key to future sucess? time will tell.
Brazil need to completely re-invent themelves
Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Zico, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, this list goes on. Legends etched into the history of footballing nation and names that will appear on fans shirts for generations to come. This generation? This squad? their shirts are probably more likely to be found burnt at bottom of a bin. That might be a bit extreme, but hopefully you get the picture.
This team had its faults, they were there for all to see throughout their campaign. But with the spirit and the support of their home fans they dragged themselves to the semi-finals, to which their weaknesses were well and truly shown to the masses. It was clear from the get go that Neymar was not only a national treasure but he would also be match winner. His shocking injury against Sent shockwaves throughtout the nation. What do they do now? Who do they turn to? To make matters worse, world star and captain Thiago Silva was suspended for the Germany game.
The world looked on in both shock and awe as Germany ran rampant against a seemingly lost Brazil side. The Samba spirit was completely lost and the paint was falling off the cracks once and for all. A huge amount of blame went on makeshift captain David Luiz. PSG, who were to pair both Luiz and Silva together in a seemingly dream Brazilian partnership. those dreams were shattered even before club football had resumed.
Fingers were also pointed at manager Phil Scolari, who has subsequently resigned since the tournament closed. Scolari was criticized for leaving legend Ronaldinho out of the squad and other such players including Kaka. There was no real attacking style of play either. Brazil had also looked to play the ball up to either golden Neymar or the dreadfully ineffective Fred.
What's the next step for Brazil? Continue to build the squad around Neymar, which turned out to be just enough, but then not enough. The samba boys have four years until Russia, but will we see a stronger side, or an even worse imitation of the last "team".
The morality in football has all but gone
Football is changing, but for the better or worse?
Take the new referee aerosol foam for example. A creative, simple and effective way of keeping defending walls in line. Better.
Luis Saurez. Yes, we'll get to the biting bit, but first and foremost his performance against England displayed his finest qualities. Despite being an injury doubt, he braved the pain to score two well placed goal which defined just how good he can be. However, in a move that has hindered his career thus far, he threw it all away with ANOTHER disgusting and mindless bite. Hero to zero is probably the best way to describe it.
So a lengthy ban (some say not tough enough) follows and it seems as though his career lies in tatters. That is until Barcelona buy the toothy forward. What does this say to the rest of the world? Act like a lunatic and you will be rewarded, just because your talent is of such highly accolade? The Catalan club themselves have been known in the past to act in, shall we say, a less than moral nature. Simulation from both David Villa and Busquets (the infamous peek-a-boo incident) has put the them down the pecking in some football purists eyes.
Then we diving, probably still the most con in football. We see it time and time again and it doesn't seem to ever get properly punished, if not rewarded. Holland's wing wizard Arjen Robben is one of the biggest culprits of this and makes no secret of it either. He admitted to diving against Mexico, and whether he was fouled or not for the match winning penalty, they way he theatrically threw himself to the ground was a disgusting effort on his part, but the worst is that he isn't the only one.
Will it ever end? What needs to change? Tougher bans and rules. Footage for referees to review. We have goal-line technology so why not introduce something along those lines?
America finally looked like they enjoyed footb.Soccer?
New York Kanyees, Harlem Globetrotters, United States Mens National Soccer Team? Doesn't really have the same ring to it, does it? Maybe it doesn't, but this World Cup got America pumping like never before. A nation gripped by a sport it's never really taken to it's heart before. There were songs, historically inspired character and even a rowse of support from the odd celebrity.
Does this mean the beautiful game has finally made its mark in the states? It's probably too soon to say. George Best gave it a fair shot, no real reaction. A host of ageing players have and are trying their luck in the MLS, still not much of a reaction. David Beckham, bless his heart, is still trying to break the mould. How much energy is needed to inject the stars and stripes with football blood. As we know, they is a lot of money in advertising and a lot of America sports make their dollar with such an imput, so would a fifteen minute stint for a few adverts be the biggest deterrent?
Even if it still remains a fairly stale sport in many nationals eyes, it was both refreshing and eye opening just to see the thunderous support Jurgen Klinsmann's men received while in Brazil.
Spain's dominance is finally over, Germany to take over?
So the era of "Tiki-Taka" has come to an end. A hold over football that has been admired and recreated by many. A system that no team could seemingly conquer. That all changed when Spain met Holland in their opening group game. A shocking demolishing of a world great with devastating effect. They then completely feel on the sword with a 2-0 defeat the impressive Chile. They regained some pride with a victory over fellow eliminated side Australlia, but by that time the damage had already been done.
So over would-be champions Germany. Thoroughly impressive Throughout the touranament, three-times winners would make their presence know the whole way through with a disciplined team lead from the back by the energetic and adventurous Manuel Neuer. Veteran striker Miroslav Klose also broke, ironically, Brazilian legend Ronaldo's 15-goal record at world cups.
It will be very interesting to where Germany go from here. A squad full of young, talented and seemingly fearless players could prove a deadly combination for future tournaments.