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Stars fail to shine at World Cup

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David Bond | 21:38 UK time, Saturday, 3 July 2010

2010 World Cup: Cape Town

This World Cup was supposed to provide the stage for the greatest players on earth to shine.
 
But following Argentina's stunning 4-0 defeat by Germany on Saturday, the big five of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Kaka and Didier Drogba have all returned home from South Africa earlier than expected.
 
Between them, just two managed to get on the scoresheet - Drogba and Ronaldo. All showed flashes of brilliance but many observers have been left scratching their heads as to why they were unable to deliver in the finals.
 
As Argentina coach Diego Maradona contemplated his own future this weekend, one of the greatest players ever to grace the World Cup was asked to reflect on why it was that stars like Messi, Rooney and Ronaldo had failed to dazzle.

"It's a very different type of game these days," answered a shell-shocked Maradona. "We were more selfish as players. I wanted to do everything in the team.
 
"But Rooney and Messi will see by themselves that when the team needs them they will be there to play for the team."

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Highlights - Argentina 0-4 Germany(UK users only)

 
While his theory may carry some weight, another consideration may be the burden of expectation which falls on these players' shoulders.
 
The German coach Joachim Loew talks of the "lightness" of youth which courses through his team and you see it on the faces of Thomas Mueller and Mesut Ozil when they play - they so clearly enjoy it.
 
And one of the observations made about England's disastrous World Cup here was that the team played with fear under manager Fabio Capello. If the Italian has learned one lesson from his humbling experience of the last four weeks it must surely be the need to bring in younger players. 

Germany's ruthless rewriting of the Maradona and Messi fairytale has not only robbed this World Cup of a great story, it has left the game wondering whether the 1986 World Cup-winner will quit after two years in charge of Argentina.
 
"I may leave tomorrow but I want these boys to go on," said Maradona, who added that the 4-0 defeat was the toughest moment in his life, which for a man who spent six days in a critical condition with heart and lung problems six years ago, is some statement.
 
But this tournament has shown time and again that it has no respect for reputations. If Maradona moves another character will emerge to fill the gap.
 
And while many of the names lighting up the 2010 finals may not be giants of the game, they are proof of the competition's ever-evolving ability to surprise and delight.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    I don't know if I only see it now, but it's fantastic to see joyous players today. They are so happy.

  • Comment number 2.

    As Capello has learnt, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

  • Comment number 3.

    Germany has shown that football is about team work and not individual Egos. Before world cup who knew of Oezil, Mueller, Khadira?? But they are through to the semi-final, their 6th semi final in 8 consecutive world cups and somehow in England, fans seem to think England is better than Germany, I wonder why.

  • Comment number 4.

    A lot of people have been sceptical about Germany over the course of this World Cup. But after today they are the clear favourites to win. I'm glad Maradona and his ego have left South Africa though.

  • Comment number 5.

    I hope you're not offended when I say that this is rubbish. There's very obvious reasons why each player "didn't perform:"

    Messi was the best player in the group stage, bar possibly Ozil. For some reason being slated as underperforming purely because he didn't actually score, despite bringing some of the best saves of the tournament out of the Greek and Nigerian keepers.

    Ronaldo has a record of underperforming in big games, which is why Messi is far superior to him. In any case Portgual were poor, and he can't change that on his own.

    Drogba "didn't shine" because he was injured prior to the start of the World Cup, and then he scored twice in the two full games he got. Not bad in my view.

    Rooney was part of an appalling team and got absolutely no service. Granted he didn't play well, but then nor would any player in his position.

    Kaka has been out of form all season, and frankly doesn't look the same player he did two or three seasons back. He's not up to being Brazil's number 10 - at the moment, at least.

  • Comment number 6.

    Germany has shown that football is about team work and not individual Egos. Before world cup who knew of Oezil, Mueller, Khadira?? But they are through to the semi-final, their 6th semi final in 8 consecutive world cups and somehow in England, fans seem to think England is better than Germany, I wonder why.
    -----------------------
    @ The Dude, That same Ego!

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    i think while there are the obvious benefits of teamwork and a well oiled machine, the World Cup no longer has the exclusive "first look" at talent. we are all very aware of Messi, Ronalso, Fabiano et el from the CL, and if we are so aware, then it is more than likely that international opponents are as well. there are no real surprises anymore apart from the odd result here and there, but the players are more often than not known by most.

  • Comment number 9.

    David,

    The players you have mentioned play for Chelsea, Man United, Barcelona and Madrid. I cant help but see the link between their poor showing at the world cup, and the incredible work load they have had during the club season, carrying the weight of their clubs fortunes on their shoulders for about 50 games a season.

    Clearly, Rooney was burnt out in my opinion....

    Kaka has not been fit all season for madrid, Ronaldo had another long season and to be fair has been on fire for about the last 3 years. Drogba too, a very long and tough double winning season with Chelsea. The same can be said of Messi.

    I dont want to defend very well paid players, but do you think there is any basis for this as a reason (not an excuse!) for their very "jaded" looking performances?

    The german players are mostly based in germany which has a winter break - Sjneider plays in Italy for milan, they have a winter break too - I think the fatigue of some of these top players was also evident in the champions league with the fates of the english clubs as well as Barcelona.

    One flaw in the link i am trying to create between the amount of football these "stars" have had is of course the Spain team. They have guys playing the same amount of football, but maybe when you have such a fantastically gelled team with such quality players you can perhaps get passed this, although I dont think Spain have shone as much as in euro 2008, they have been solid if unspectacular.

  • Comment number 10.

    Messi played well in the group stages. He just couldn't buy a goal. I also thought Drogba did ok considering his injury before the tournament. Kaka was also struggling fitness wise after an injury.

    Rooney and Ronaldo? No idea why they were so bad. There is some substance in the theory that they were in poor teams, Ronaldo was certainly starved of the ball against Spain... But then again, I read a stat when England went out that Rooney had given the ball away more than anyone else in the world cup at that time.

  • Comment number 11.

    I would like to change the headlines to "BBC pundits" fail to shine, as we had a very interesting? blog on how this was South Americas WC during the week, it told of tactics, patience blah blah..

    What now? Next blog is on how Europe overcame the mighty onslaught of South America?

    Boring altogether England football and BBC reporters.

  • Comment number 12.

    Germany's 'ruthless' rewriting of a fairytale has robbed this World Cup of a great story? After its dour history Germany is the fairytale. That's a great story.

  • Comment number 13.

    Wesley Sneijder is delivering so far. He could win the quadruple - champions league, italian champion, italian cup, world cup ...

  • Comment number 14.

    Here we go again!!! till when will you english writers get into your head that england are no where among the great football countries in the worldcup. I can still see how you david bond and your likes can not come with terms that england are out now with trying to make make us swallow by mentioning your english football idol "rooney" as a star who failed to shine at world cup. Comparing him with christaino kaka and messi is being disrespectful. As these stars are stars really recognised by the world ie fifa and uefa and they have earned it. is Your Rooney Uefa football of the year or Fifa's.

    PLEASE CHOOSE YOUR WORDS B4 WRITING DEM MR DAVID BOND

  • Comment number 15.

    Have we been seduced by the hype ? - The flash visuals of the adverts featuring the stars and their trickery - The promo trailers of the TV companies which promise the "Greatest show on Earth".

    During their club season these players probably play over 50 matches, and a montage of the magic moments can be reduced to a few minutes.

    Can you really expect these players to deliver such magic in just a hand full of games, where at stake is the greatest prize in football, and the ultimate riches await those who shine?

    For too long football has pedaled the "More than a Game" mantra.

    The press and the media have given us "Football fever" so why are we surprised that we feel a little sick ?

  • Comment number 16.

    Considering the amount of flak he got for not reproducing his Barcelona form for Argentina, Messi has actually had a very good tournament. Ok he was muscled out today by the Germans, but he has been an absolute delight to watch.

    Kaka just isn't the player he was a couple of years back. But I still thought he did well - better than what he did at Real Madrid this season for sure.

    And Ronaldo? He's never won a game on his own. He was brilliant at Manchester United and Real Madrid because he was surrounded by quality players.

    Wayne Rooney - what a let down. I really thought this would be his World Cup. He was one of the worst players in the entire tournament. God awful.

  • Comment number 17.

    Never before have so many World Class players underperformed. I think you can have a full team which would include Messi, Ronaldo, Kaka, Rooney, Torres, Gerrard, Drogba, Ashley Cole, Iniesta and Cassilas come to mind.

    This ball has definitely played it's part. Have you seen how many players have lacked confidence to shoot, once they've seen how the ball moves after it leaves their feet. How many decent free kicks have we seen?

    Some of them were having trouble controlling it, over-hit passes from world class players who could normally do it with their eyes closed.


  • Comment number 18.

    Drogba scored once in two starts, coming back from a broken arm. He didn't exactly under-perform. This World Cup has illustrated that football is a team game. Argentina have great players but they were not a team. Chrissy Waddle summed them up perfectly as being more akin to the Harlem Globetrotters. Italy demonstrated in the last World Cup that streetwise European teams are more likely to thrive in the knockout stages than the hyped south Americans who flatter to deceive in the group stages where some of the matches are actually mis-matches. David Bond has again written an item devoid of much insight and more in keeping with a sixth former's essay.

  • Comment number 19.

    Rooney and Kaka put at the level of Messi or even Cristiano Ronaldo? Is this article a joke? Or do English "pundits" really pretend to overrate the own players to such an extent???

  • Comment number 20.

    Messi had a good World Cup even though he didn't score a goal. Ronaldo didn't do too well because of Queiroz tactics. Rooney was not himself. Kaka and Torres have just recovery from injury.
    At the end of the day most top European teams have better quality than most national teams so it's wishful thinking to believe that stars shine as brightly as they do at their clubs.

  • Comment number 21.

    I blame the ball. How many times in this world cup have we seen really good players take a pot a goal from outside the box to see it blaze 10 metres over the bar and made to look a fool - the same with long range passes. These players who were capable of individual brilliance didn't become bad overnight.
    The result being that a lot of the goals are have been scored closer in, almost walked in to the net, as seen by most of Germany's goal. This presses teams who want to attack further up the field and leaves the final third of the field over congested. We've seen a lot of teams with 7 or 8 players lining along the 18 yard box. Then with the full backs etc pressed further up the field it makes counter attack football a more potent weapon (again, see 7 of Germany's last 8 goals)
    This crowding of the defense has made it almost impossible for people like Messi to break down. He had limited choices: try and beat 5 players all swarmed around him, or take a pop from distance with a ball that was too hard to control.
    The ball design was used in the German league last year, I wonder did Joachim Loew decide some of his World Cup tactics over the course of the season.

  • Comment number 22.

    1. "All showed flashes of brilliance"

    - are you really comparing Rooney's performances with Messi's? What have you been smoking, sir?

    2. "Germany's ruthless rewriting of the Maradona and Messi fairytale has not only robbed this World Cup of a great story"

    - quite the contrary, it has GIVEN this World Cup a great story, the emergence of a dynamic, athletic and fresh young team.

  • Comment number 23.

    Catalan Power

    Since when was Kaka related to England?

  • Comment number 24.

    The biggest underperformers have been the BBC with their juvenile adulation for Brazil and Argentina, and for every star who has been uber-hyped by media advertisers.

    As far as the players go, I think it is highly unfair to lump Drogba and Kaka in with that group, both of whom gave an excellent account of themselves in this tournament.

  • Comment number 25.

    Rooney's overhyped status as a 'world great' was revealed not just in 2010 but in 2006 too.
    However what the Argentina v Germany has shown is that the Germans having looked at their national team's failure and made the necessary changes in the Bundesliga and having remodelled their coaching and youth policies are reaping the rewards.
    Will the FA take the necessary action, dream on.

  • Comment number 26.

    Why is Kaka even held in the same breath as the other players? Seriously since being crowned World Player of the Year in 2007, what has he done? His impact has been minimal on his club sides and his form has been well off. Even before Real Madrid crazily splashed out all that money on him he was on the wane. We don't know, maybe injuries have affected his game, but the Kaka we saw from years ago tearing up defences at Milan has long gone. Poor, but not unexpected.

    Ronaldo had no service, but is also very petulant. His effort levels were well below what is required. We've seen plenty of times in the big occasions Ronaldo not delivering. He is the king of destroying weaker opposition. And his game is all about end product - goals and assists. Unlike Messi he isn't really a team player, so he requires a lot more service than him, and he didn't have his shooting boot free kicks. Average.

    Messi had a good tournament overall. We should have expected that the opposition were going to play close attention to him. Good, not great.

    How did Drogba disappoint? His team were knocked out in the groups, he played through injury and managed to score against Brazil. Good.

    Rooney was just an utter disgrace. Abysmal. Injuries? Possibly, but I think he was burnt out and his confidence and concentration severely lacking. Poor.

  • Comment number 27.

    I believe what David Bond means is these players made big impressions in club football but failed in international football. One could also write a whole story of how feted international footballers fail at club level, Diego Forlan for example??? I would like to see a few top club teams play the top international ones. I think now days an Inter etc would destroy any international team including Brazil, that is if they took the game seriously. I am sorry to say that the European (international) club scene is much more demanding than the international scene. So it is likely the stars that David Bond talked about are burnt out, plus who pays their wages????????

  • Comment number 28.

    It just goes to highlight that individuals are worth nothing in comparison to the team as a whole, no matter what those individuals are called, be it Messi, Kaka or Ronaldo. Germany have shown us that excellent team spirit and organisation is paramount, far more important than any individual players.

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm not surprised at the performances put up by the so-called 'big names'. They were all tension soaked and thats the sort of performance you get when ur actions or activities are over-hyped by the media. The media blow everything out of proportion and when these 'stars' come out especially on a stage as big as the World Cup, they are anxious to live up to the hype. You cant give ur best in such a setting. If Pele were to play in this day, his performance would be dismal too.

  • Comment number 30.

    @post 27, how has Diego Forlan failed at club level? How? HOW? The man is absolute scoring machine and has been for years. The number of times I've heard at this World Cup from commentators about his time at Manchester United has been a joke, and a disgrace to broadcasting. His spell there 8 years ago has no relevance whatsoever. The man has won two Golden Shoes since then!

  • Comment number 31.

    Messi did well considering he was the most marked man in the tournament. He didn't score but he was at the heart of all that was good about Argentina, until the Germans knocked them out. Rooney was far worse; he didn't do anything of note whatsoever. At least Messi showed flashes of why he's the best player in the world.

  • Comment number 32.

    Should we be celebrating individuals who flatter to deceive or seeking out those heroes that emerge during the tournament? Gyan, Sae-Tae and Ozil spring to mind. http://gregtheoharis.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/clones/

  • Comment number 33.

    MichaelRK, how does Diego Forlan represent an example of a feted international player failing at club level?! Granted he didn't set the world alight in his time at Man Utd, though he did OK, but since then he has been in amazing form for season after season in La Liga.

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    World cup aint about stars its about the team work

  • Comment number 36.

    re Mr OBlivious,

    Yes I think the ball is playing a large part. Gerrard, Lampard and Rooney all like to, and are very good at, shooting from distance and playing long range passes. All three produced zero accurate long range passes or shots.

    The Germans, who had been relatively poor in the few years prior to the tournament, practice with the ball all year and suddenly look like world beaters. Hmmmm.

  • Comment number 37.

    Good Blog and good read David!

    I have said from the beginning of the tournament that big players will not be shining at this tournament because of the huge expectation we have laid upon them. The pressure to impress the fans is slightly higher than it usually is. Playing at a club level is a different issue. Even if it's not that many times, all the super stars have had a blip through out club seasons. But since the seasons are long, they have had the chance to mend it and maintain their reputation. However, as David has mentioned it, only few of the players that impressed through out the tournament will end up being giants of the game.

    The pressure will never go away and it could be taken as one of the reason to why they did not perform to their best of abilities. I know one could argue saying that if you are a really good player, you should be able to shine in what so ever formation you are played in.

    The argument will continue with millions of reason being mentioned as to why they failed and everyone of us are right with in our own rights.

  • Comment number 38.

    Germany's national team had a bad time between 1998-2000, and even in 2004 after an early exit in the European Championship. Changes were made in the way young players were recruited, educated in elite football schools, and teams in the league forced to use more German players. In addition, integration of German-born immigrants into football camps and teams made a huge difference. When I was playing in a league until 4 years ago, half of todays young players under 18 are probable from a mixed or migrant background. This is in part due to the effect that Schools have not their own teams, and the clubs unite all players from local grounds, some from priveliged background mixed with others from poorer background. Finally, and I think this is what will make it difficult for England / FA to make significant changes, football is far less commercial than in England or Italy. Why do we need 20 teams in the PL ? Aren't 18 teams not enough ? Why does anyone need 24 teams in the Championship ? Is this just to make money ? When you look at the first 4 teams in the Premier League, they are almost always the same teams - in Germany only Munich has constant success. Having Manchester City now in addition with fresh money will raise the pressure for the other contenders even more, and they will go shopping in South America or outside the country for new players. I find it extremely hard to swallow that foreign business people can buy a football club and manage it any way they want; this might bring in good money from TV stations, but who is paying that price ? The people are paying high fees for Sky TV or to actually see the game, and the players buy their Ferraris...... For sure the National team is not profiting from that. Why is Spain successful despite their commercial exploitation ? (making millions and millions of deficit....) Their youth programs are great and they let them also play in their league or outside the country. England has a lot of young talent, but I don't see it playing in top teams / Champions league. Munich put Gomez on the bench after paying 35 millions for him, just to let Müller play all season including the CL, 20 years old and from nowhere. Same for Badstuber and a couple of other players, mixed with experienced older players. So when the FA wants to react properly to the lack of success, they should at least be honest and admit that they have no way of changing things....

  • Comment number 39.

    Just to throw out a question - who do you think has been the best performer in the competition-any nationality-from a Premier League team?

  • Comment number 40.

    I can't believe anyone thinks that our 7 World Class players - Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, A Cole, Rooney and if fit Ferdinand and Beckham were and would have been anything than other than unfortunate. I mean they came up against players (who are better and don't give a ---- for media infused unjustifable reuputations) v the well prepared, don't believe their own hype, can adapt - positionally and technically, know their oppositon and er are united unlike the afforementioned 7, none of whom could get into the German team.
    Its OK said 7,8,9 will be told by sycophatnic press people it was all everyone else's fault other than their's. Some of them by the Beeb, some by ITV and all by Sky.

  • Comment number 41.

    I don't thnk you will see a player absolutely dominate a tournament the way that Maradona did in 1986 anymore, (in what was an average Argentina team apart from him and Burrachaga)....why?

    Players are so much fitter, stronger and faster and there is less space. Defenses are must better oprganised....these factors cover up a multitude of sins.

    Football is still a team game and no matter how good Ronaldo or Messi are....they did not have the system to operate in.

  • Comment number 42.

    the main reason the "stars" failed to shine at this world cup is the majority of teams started off too negative and also didnt play the star players in their strongest position

    France: due to their shambolic behind the scenes shenanigans they were probably doomed to fail whatever they did. But Anelka, Ribery and co may have faired better trying this attacking formation

    HENRY------------ANELKA

    RIBERY-------GOURCUFF--------MALOUDA

    Italy: too negative and too much faith in overrated Iaguinta who was poor

    DI NATALE--------GILARDINO--------QUAGLIARELLA

    to me that front 3 looked lot better before tournament started and even better after they got knocked out

    Brazil: good ole Dunga, ruin the spirit of Brazil to try and win even though Brazil won 5 already, idiot

    Ronaldinho one of best players of all time left at home cos "teams win cups not star players" according to Dunga
    well star players can help a lot dunga buddy and ronaldinho was lookin like he might be on his game again this season

    RONALDINHO------LUIS FABIANO------ROBINHO

    ------------------ KAKA

    this is lot more attacking line up and brazil fans want attacking football, they wanna win in style if they win it not boring negative style

    England: Rooney was off form but a better formation might have helped him maybe score and then who knows confidence may have flooded back, Englands problem was not many options really, but make do with what is there, this team would be much more attacking and no one playing out of position

    -------------ROONEY-------DEFOE
    -------------------GERRARD
    COLE------LAMPARD---------CARRICK-----MILNER
    --------DAWSON------TERRY-------KING
    --------------------HART

    Argentina: played as 11 individuals, not as a team, milito didnt shine cos he didnt play lol

    TEVEZ------------MILITO--------------MESSI
    ----------------RIQUELME
    ----------CAMBIASSO---MASCHERANO
    HEINZE-----SAMUEL---DEMICHELIS-----ZANETTI

    this team would be make me drool as a manager, but maradona fell out with riquelme and cambiasso FAIL as they are great players and where was zanetti, even if he had broken leg he would be better choice at RB over jonas gutierrez

    Holland: too negative just like brazil, PLAY like HOLLAND

    ELIA-------------KUYT-----------ROBBEN
    ------VAN PERSIE-----SNEIJDER
    ----------------DE JONG



    same for almost all of the teams in the tournament, they have all been too negative, exceptions being Germany and Chile
    Germany have played exciting attacking football with 3 strikers a playmaker and 2 very good midfielders (one being player of tournament so far, Schweinsteiger) and Chile dont do defense they just attack attack attack and press press press

    Spain also keep persisting with 2 holding midfielders, do they really need Busquets, when they keep the ball so well surely an extra offensive player would improve their chances of scoring no? as soon as they put pedro on for alonso and had the extra man they looked awesome and scored coincidence???

    --VILLA--------TORRES--------INIESTA
    ----------XAVI------FABREGAS
    ---------------ALONSO


    NEGATIVE FOOTBALL = STAR PLAYERS FAILING TO IMPRESS

  • Comment number 43.

    If footballers are truly burnt out from playing (sometimes) 2 matches a week - then they need to (joke) "take a look at themselves".

  • Comment number 44.

    i think messi did play well, yes he didn't score. but he has shot over 20 times with atleast two of these shots resulting in a goal when the goalie spilled the ball. People judge players too much on goals.

  • Comment number 45.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    i forgot about portugal lol, unbelievable they score 7 goals and then next game drop some of the key players and go all defensive???? queiroz i thought you good at united, but im glad you not here now after your negative scared cowardly tactics

    ------------ALMEIDA------LEIDSON
    SIMAO-------MEIRELES-----TIAGO------RONALDO
    COENTRAO-----ALVES------CARVALHO-----MIGUEL

    and tell Ronaldo if he doesnt help out fb wen defending he is dropped for next game and wen portugal get the ball tell him to get forward down the wing and stay there to wait for a pass then do his stuff on wing to cross it, Ronaldo failed cos he was not in his best position in any of the 4 games. Lone striker??? lol

  • Comment number 47.

    On the subject of “underperforming stars” I follow the Premier League and can only speak of the likes of Rooney and Drogba. I must point out that Rooney, at club level, has the support of players like Giggs, Valencia, Nani, Fletcher, Scholes, etc. In the England setup, he must rely on the likes of Lennon and Shaun Wright-Phillips who are the best and the fastest at finding a blind alley to run into and Milner and Barry who lack the creativity and vision Rooney is used to from his club team mates. The same applies to Drogba who had even less talent to rely on in his national side. I can only assume that Messi and Ronaldo suffered from the same issues. However, I think that, had Ronaldo tried a bit harder (hell, had he tried at all period) to be a team player, we could have seen a better performance from Portugal.

  • Comment number 48.

    3 assists for Kaka, seems he did alright...

  • Comment number 49.

    I have worked at a sports rehab clinic for the last 10 years. We treat many different athletes. Some of them are these footballers. I would say the fault is with the coach as the 'game of chess' has shown how poor some coaches are. It would help if the wc went on over 2 months however in English football it's a bigger problem. Look at Capello who was outplayed in every way except by the FA. The FA should have hired a new coach and made Capello to work under him No they can't affort to pay him out £6 mill + tax so they have left him in charge. Since Capello has embarrassed the FA why not reduce his role? The old boys club.

  • Comment number 50.

    Am I the only one disturbed by #34's suggestion of karma-induced suffering for nations that have wronged another? What is this magic you speak of? And did you mean the Swiss instead of Switz, what have they got to do with it again?

    #42/46 - Yes, why didn't all those international coaches take your advice instead of trusting their own instincts and professional experience? I mean as a blogger you've clearly a much higher pedigree of the tactical abilities required to win a world cup.

    And the temerity these coaches have shown in playing a defence, such a commitment to negative football should be condemned at all costs. A defence, really.

  • Comment number 51.

    Great article, finally someone wrote about this!!

    I just feel so sorry for Dona and Argentina. He really behaved and had everything so far to warrant a Cup triumph, he was one of the if probably not the best thing in Africa 2010. He even took defeat quite well, I think from what was shown, and he really has matured. Had they not met Germany, I really believe they would've won it. Unfortunately for them Germany keep going higher, and the strikers were completely immobilised today.

    The stars, I think Messi is the real mystery. There were plenty of no-pressure situations such as when the were cruising against Mexico and SKorea for him to score. Why he did not, it'll just be a mystery. I wish him and Argentina the best in Brasil next time. Here's hoping.

  • Comment number 52.

    re: JimSprout

    How have the Germans been poor in the last few years when they have reached 2 successive world cup semi-finals and a European cup final in a space of four years?

  • Comment number 53.

    Mr.Bond,
    Are you ever going to comment or reply to any of the responses on this rather thin article?

    It is not really a blog if you don't express yourself about other peoples views or expand your opinions ....

    It is a bit arrogante would you not say?

  • Comment number 54.

    As we the Germans demolish a much fancied Argentina with the scorline reading the 4-0 the wor demolish is an understatement
    .We have to take note of the curious note of the German national team's fortune so far. They were robbed of their influential captain and star Michael Ballack who was injured on the last game of the club season. Saying that, it has been a blessing in disguise Ballack's absence has definitly changed the changed the shape of the team which Jochim Low was preparing for the tournament, and it has let the emergence of the yoing Mezut Ozul and Muller and the young veteran Bastian Schweinstiger to take the onus and what spectacular results has it provided. Accident indeed but great stories and histories are filled with accidents. If it was a normal German year Klose now past his best, Podolski who has had a indifferent season and young Muller who was badly exposed in the Champions League final wounldnt have made final 23. But things stand by no coach would have faith in two first choice strikerswh o share 6 goals between them in their domestic campaign. Has his persistance paid off. Thanks to some breath taking play Miroslav Klose is tied with the fellow country man the legendary Gerd Muller. He is also one short of Ronaldo's tally at this tournament. But in the years to come history will put him par with Gerd Muller and Ronaldo some irony!

    The dicipline and effectiveness well this team has inherited it well after all it a very German trait. It has been wonder show defensive dicipline and the back four has held its defensive line expertly and confidently time in and again giving them great advantage in open play and set pieces when other teams attacked them.

  • Comment number 55.

    england just need to focus more on their youth team like germany did and look at what happened

  • Comment number 56.

    Lot of great points in this column, but I think Mr Bond likes Argentina a bit too much here ,]

    But so do I, I really did want them to win it. But this always happens at these tournaments for some reason or so. If anything, Germany06 was even less predictable, I really thought it'd be the hosts or Argentina again, but Italy??

    But there is still time yet for Spain's fairytale, what a story that'd be, losing to Switzerland, then going on to take European and World Cups!! And even so, whoever wins it wasn't going to be that way off this time. Germany, and Spain were always possible candidates. However, it'd be great to see Holland or even, maybe just Uruguay lift gold, first time for Holland too!

    And David Villa sure doesn't know what the star fuss is aa ,] Well done to him already.

  • Comment number 57.

    I've enjoyed your blogs over the last couple of weeks it has given me something to read on break at work. This world cup has been a breath of fresh air and change in the footballing world. Like the top teams the top players haven't really made an impact or lived up to there countries expectations.
    The theory in question has it's truths and has its lies you could say. Yes the English season is long and yes there bodies are put through a lot but as some have already pointed out look at Spain. On the other side of the coin look at Italy. They have a break, I think 90% of there team played there football in country. You could argue that they were old, but even an old team should have done better. Would a break have help England in this tournament? Not a chance. It was the wrong team, on paper they were the worlds best. In reality, poor. No amount of time off could have helped the break down of defense or the way the team played.
    It was touched in another blog after there loss, the reason why the Germanys have such a great team is because they focus on youth and take risks. I mean there shouldn't be a big surprise here. 6 players from the German team won the under 21 tournament. They take there youth program very seriously. The FA unfortunately does not. Is it the whole answer? no but a big part of it. Anyways, lets break down the players in question.

    Messi - Regardless of what happened today against the Germans, he is by far the BEST player in the world. You can't tell me that his whole world cup was a wash just because he didn't hit the back of the net. The best part of watching Argentina was when he had the ball. His footwork and ability to turn on a player is just crazy good. I think he was top 3 in the tournament behind VIlla and Forlan. Pure Class.

    Cristiano Ronaldo- Regardless of how you feel about him, he is a great footballer. Great footwork, and great shot. But this guy sucks goat footballs when it comes to playing in the "Big Games". Look at his record. When the pressures on, he is no were to be found. The only goal he scored was against North Korea, it was a nice goal. But all the other games he maybe came close once or twice over the opening round and last 16. To tell you the truth the only highlight I remember of him besides the goal was in the 1st game. The rocket off the cross bar.
    I have followed him over the last 3 yes or so, because I am a United fan and even then his record for showing up in the big games is very poor. It seems like when the team needs him the most, he just doesn't come through. Until he gets out of that mind set this question will alway be asked of him.

    Wayne Ronney- Ok this is my guy and England is one of my teams(Holland is the other). The truth is, he was horrible. I mean just awful. Yes he had a long season and he was injured in the weeks leading up to the event but his head didn't seem like it was in the game. The miss he had that rung off the post would have been in if he was in his Man U kit. For the last 4 yrs he has been able to keep his temper in check, and do what he does best score. It seems like the pressure got to him and maybe his injuries to, It also doesn't help when your team was god awful too. He hasn't had a great tournament in his career. Hope he can put the game face on for the Euros.

    * Just a side note, why is it every time there is a football tournament, England is always a favorite. I mean everyone said this was there year. They have great players but just don't show up. Shouldn't you have to show that your capable of being a winner before you get dubbed a favorite. Just saying as a fan it's nice to hear that every 2 to 4 years but come on.


    Kaka- I think he was added to this team because of what he did not because of what he has done this year. Every team needs veteran leadership and he was that guy. Use to be great and still has his moments but not the player he use to be.

    Didier Drogba - Does this criticism even count. This guy is a champ. To play with a broken elbow and score and still be a big deal with one arm is huge. I didn't like this guy cause he plays at Stanford Bridge but I have a whole new respect for him he is a great player and if he was healthy I think Ivory Coast would have had a different fate.

    Yes this theory is some what valid. But then look at players like Villa, Forlan, Kolser and HIGUAIN all these players had great club campaigns and played in La Lega with the exception of Kolser, and are having great world cups.

    It's very tricky to figure out but I think sometimes we hype players up so much that when they don't perform to those heights of greatness we hold them to, we blame them and we get what happened this time around. Maybe the question we should be asking is why are we holding them to such greatness when this game can only be one with a Great team not just a great player.

  • Comment number 58.

    Germany show their reality once again;they deserve the best to win the cup.England-they are nothing when it comes to world or European cup.perhaps they are not brave enough to face such a tough competition.All stars of England are no shiner than candle stick.Need for England is change all English star player who are having losing as habit.Give young a chance to play will be the only hope for England to win the international game.

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    Hahaha Number42, that did remind me. Today was just Argentina vs Mexico again! Except of course look who was on the receiving end this time xDD

    For all Mexico's pride in attack, they just couldn't do it, and just like Germany did today, Argentina picked them off scoring one after another.

    The key was obviously the defence, and actually, it was a youthful, inspired defensive set-up that enabled Italy to wear down Germany 4 years ago, and steal the match at the end, by suprise, a counter attack! Iconic match that one 4 years ago.

  • Comment number 61.

    Why the negative slant?

    This is what is so great about the World Cup, it seperates the men from the boys and no-one has a big money club to hide behind.

    This just proves how goood players like Zidane, Baggio, Ronaldo(Brazil) and even Linekar and Gazza actually were.

    We should be respecting players like David Villa and Miroslav Klose as much as we are denigrating the commercial stars like Rooney and Messi.

  • Comment number 62.

    Another day another terrible article from David Bond, seriously how can the BBC allow such drivel?

    How can you compare Rooney's performances with Messi's?

    Rooney was terrbile but Messi played well, he just didn't score

  • Comment number 63.

    Well u cant say Messi hasnt shon, he played very well! It took some pretty decent saves from the Nigerian and Greek keepers to stop him from scoring. Also the guy has about 3 ppl marking him constantly, and as good a dribbler he is, nobody can beat that many ppl all the time.

    Rooney was really out of form, he clearly was not in his zone like he was for Man Utd. Tbh tho, he is over rated, we English like to put him in the same breath as Messi but hes not even in the same galaxy as Messi!!

    Ronaldo just did not get the service, he tried his best, but Portugal were playing some really defensive tactics that is both very unlike them and didnt suit Ronaldos game. Ronaldo cant totally be blamed, we all saw how he reacted after getting knocked out by Spain he was extremely frustrated. If they played with the same tactics like they did against North Korea in the second half then im sure they and indeed Ronaldo would have been a lot more successful.

    I hear a lot of Kaka but i havent seen anything amazing from him, even when he was at the height of his fame. Hes a fine player, but hes nowhere near the class of Ronaldo and Messi! This World Cup has also proved it. To me Villa is a far better player than him, he looks so much better on the ball.

    Drogba was in the group of death so to speak, and played with a cast on his arm, its unfair to say he didnt shine. He did the best he could with the players on his team, who arent at the same standard as his club team mates. Its like what one of the BBC pundits said, Africa does have a lot of world class players, but they are all from separate countries and their team mates just arent at the same level as them.

  • Comment number 64.

    Stop deluding yourselves. There are no talented english youngsters, or else they'd be playing regularly for class A sides. All of these german "unknowns" are playing for top tier teams. You really think there are these fantastic young players that clubs choose not to play? Keep your expectations on your banks doing well, those footballers never will.

  • Comment number 65.

    Pop Quiz-
    Can anyone name a player who plays within the Premier League who has had a good (Not excellent, just good) World Cup?

    Is it the type of football played in the Premier League?
    Or do those players play too many games in a season?

    With regards to England....
    Where was the passion from our players? The pride to have the 3 lions on their chest? Performing so badly would have been a lot easier to accept if they had shown some.
    And where was the camaraderie in the England camp?
    Yes, Green made a bad mistake but not 1 player or staff member gave him encouragement following it, with the exception of his club mate Upson as they came off at half time.
    There have been lots of mistakes by players in all positions during this tournament, and immediately their team mates have been around them giving support.
    I feel ashamed to be English!

  • Comment number 66.

    I'm not a massive fan of the use of language to describe the German win today. Were the team "ruthless"? No, they were vibrant and free-flowing; they enjoyed their fluent football. Was the World Cup "robbed" of its wished-for outcome? No; we watch the competition for emerging talent as much as for expected results.

    I, for one, am pleased that Brazil, France, Argentina and England are out: we have a curious tournament left to enjoy. Will it be the unfancied Germans (although everyone must now admit they are very attractive to watch), the Dutch, the Spanish (who have never won it),or the Uruguyans (who would be the most extraordinary underdogs in the competition's history). What not to like?

    And it is particularly good to see corporate sponsors embarassed by their profligate spending on the reputations of Messi, Rooney, Kaka, Anelka, et al. Football is all about form; don't make supermen out of mortals.

  • Comment number 67.

    As others have noted, "stars" shining (or not) is as much about the media's need to report superlatives as anything else.

    But England's performance against Germany is already looking better! Coming from 2-0 down to level the scores at 2-2 before the "referees" had their say.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that England's "stars" shone. But it's another day when the quality of referee's decisions casts a shadow over the game.

    A sport cannot ever be described as "the beautiful game" when the discussions end up reviewing the competence of people employed by Sepp Blatter.

  • Comment number 68.

    Mr Jim Sprout, (or perhaps Professor, or Doctor Sprout), do you reckon the German demolition of Australia, then England, and then Argentina, when fluent, smooth football exposed lumpen nonsense was really because the German teanm had access to the World Cup ball earlier? Will that excuse Terry and Upson? Will the fact of the make of ball really suffice as reason why other teams lost? Are you sure? Are you happy with this opinion? Might you not be a bit desparate?

    Have not Germany played the most uninhibited, joyous football of the tournament? (Who else? England: obviously not!; Brazil: no; Italy; no; FRance: funny, but not good; Ghana? Fun, but didn't hack it). And what has been good to see is that no player for Germany has tried it on with the ref; they've been kicked, but got up and got on with it. None has lost his temper with the ref. It seems the Germans are the new good guys of world footer, and they have the cheerful performances rto show for it.
    Okay, then.

  • Comment number 69.

    All the players are overated by the media.

    It is really as simple as that.

  • Comment number 70.

    There are 3 teams who play like a team and the players enjoy playing with one another . Holland , Spain and Germany . They are all in the semi final.Holland will be in the Final and a close fight between Germany and Spain. Germany remains a threat from counter attack and Spain is effective in the last half hour of play.IF Germany scores early and play keep ball for the rest of the time until the last half hour to attack so that Spain wil be pin down in their half than Germany will be in the Final.Good luck.

  • Comment number 71.

    If it wasn't Germany playing this football we'd all be absolutely loving it. As a fan of a team playing counter-attacking football like this, it gives you the biggest buzz watching football. And the way they've taken apart England and Argentina with this type of football at such speed is an absolute joy for the World Cup. Granted we're all disappointed that England were utter toss, but my, Geramny (in the words of Wiley) have got the formula, and they'll reign on all o'ya. Great stuff. I have them down to comfortably beat Spain too, who could be just as exposed on the counter as they're quite a slow team who like to build attacks rather than run them at pace.

    Germany v Holland in the final, and then we'll see who can hold their nerve, as finals do make teams go into their shells. It will be interesting.

  • Comment number 72.

    Individuals, great or not, play the game.

    Teams win championships.

    (Michael Jordan)

    Who cares how great you are? Can you be part of team that will pay any cost to win? If you need further elaboration on this, observe the final 4 in the World Cup.

    Viva football!

  • Comment number 73.

    to include Messi is this is extremely unfair. Id say the same about Drogba.

    He was involved in nearly every one of his teams goals in the tournament, he also received a great deal of attention from opposition players than the others. He hasnt flopped, he just cant do it all by himself, even today against germany i thought he put in a good performance, he linked up play, created a few chances, had a few efforts on goal and was let down by the sheer greediness of Higuain, Maxi and Di Maria who had absolutely no interest in passing whenever they got anywhere near the penalty area. But you have to ask yourself why he had to keep coming back into his own half to receive the ball, he had to do this in every game.

    The answer is simple, the argentine midfield is not nearly good enough and was incapable of threading passes to the attackers, maxi rodriguez and mascherano cant pass to save themselves, i lost count of the number of times veron simply passed the ball out of play.

  • Comment number 74.

    I personally think that it's the curse of the Nike advert. Think about it; Cannavaro, Drogba, Ribery, Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo all bombing with Walcott and Ronaldinho not even at the damned tournament, though it's safe to say that with Nike's 'backing', they'd have been tripe. It's Nike's fault. Blame Nike. I blame Nike. People bang on about Adidas' Jabulani, but it's almost certainly definitely probably Nike's fault.

    Actually, thinking about it, I blame Pepsi too. Henry, Lampard, Messi and Kaka all had shockers with Arshavin, again, not even at the tournament. And Pringles. What about Pringles? Don't let Pringles off the hook. Crouch, Anelka and Fabregas hardly setting the world alight at the moment, are they?

    I propose a boycott of the aforementoned products until we get our stars back. Give us back our stars! Anyone with me? Anyone...?

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    I just think all of these super stars just looked very tired and worn out. Germany is young, fairly unknown and very fast with great team play and execution. Maybe to much is expected of these stars.

  • Comment number 77.

    just saying that germany's youth policy shines through isn't good enough. chelsea won the premier league, which is much longer and harder, with an ageing team. Klose and schweinsteiger have been germany's most significant contributors and they have plenty of experience.
    we know how good these players are, they play all year in european leagues. most of the german team is pretty average, they wouldn't have been selected in argentina's team. wigan beat chelsea earlier this year, but i didn't see chelsea hurrying out to buy wigan players.

    i would appreciate it if the press would stop talking up the events of this world cup, as if it has been great, its been dreadful. As you mentioned, none of the world's best players has shone, except possibly david villa. No great long shots, no great dribbles, basically no great goals, whilst there have been loads of defensive and goalkeeping errors. Can anyone explain why the whole thing has been so dreadful?

  • Comment number 78.

    I've never been a fan of soccer and had never watched a soccer game (not the whole 90 minutes anyway) prior to this world cup (soccer is not a popular sport in this part of the world). After watching Messi in one of the early matches (I believe it was against S. Korea), I'd have to say I was hooked. Seeing Messi play made me realize why soccer is the most popular sport in the world. It was extremely disappointing to see him exit the world cup. I've come to appreciate this sport, thanks to the little genius Lionel Messi.

  • Comment number 79.

    You have Messi in your list!!! Are you joking, do goals only constitute success these days. David Bond you clearly have no clue! Messi was a delight to watch and one of the few entertaining aspects of this particlur very poor world cup.

  • Comment number 80.

    The team that wins the world cup has to score first on at least 6 (7 to be secure) out of the 8 games they play. Obvioulsy this is easier said than done. Then they have between 84% and 91% chance (based on stastics since the 1990 world cup to win the turnament). It doesn't matter who plays for them or how they play or even how badly the play. Messi, Ronaldo etc join others like Kroyf and Riva that have not won the trophy.

  • Comment number 81.

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  • Comment number 82.

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  • Comment number 83.

    Just a different take guys -

    Players like Messi, Ronaldo, etc are players who have already individually reached great heights. These players have made tonnes of money in the past and also from sponsorships in this world cup. Sure, we can make excuses for each of them - injury, bad luck, etc. But the bottom line is that when you have everything already going your way, two things can happen - either you are not motivated as much or you succumb to building pressure.

    The other relative unknowns in the German team - Ozil, Mueller, etc are young blood. They have something to prove. You see - patriotism is one thing but gaining visibility on a world stage is another thing. And this is exactly what these young fellows have done successfully. No wonder we are talking about them in this post as probably millions of others are in other posts. Can you imagine the number of sponsorships and club offers these guys will get after the World Cup?

  • Comment number 84.

    These players mentioned that failed to deliver are good, no doubt about that, we have often seen them win games at club level.
    But I am beginning to think that they stand out because of the quality and organisation of the players around them.
    Chelsea, Real, and Barca are amontg the top club sides and have a tight squad with many talented players. It is easier for stars to shine in that environment.
    Mourinhos boast that his old club, Inter, could beat any national team now looks feasible.
    Look at Germany, they play like a club, not a team of national superstars and make it look easy. To a certain extent that has been the lesson of this world cup, with the failure of the French and English teams prime examples; a cohesive organised ( and motivated) group can make the best look second best!

  • Comment number 85.

    good one emekaisyourfriend!

  • Comment number 86.

    @ 83

    "But the bottom line is that when you have everything already going your way, two things can happen - either you are not motivated as much or you succumb to building pressure."

    I don't see how this statement relates to Messi and even Ronaldo to some extent. Here is another way of looking at it, your team is not good at defending (Messi), you play in an average side (Ronaldo). Messi looked pretty motivated to me. What do you mean by pressure? Scoring goals or lack of them?

  • Comment number 87.

    Little it influenced the luck in a result 0-4. It failed the tactical system for this party, that needed much people in the middle of the field, and failed all the strategy of Argentina for this world cup. Great players need to be in balance and accompanied by their respective contexts to shine.

  • Comment number 88.

    As an Englishman I'm having a bit of a Rooney-rant. i think his performance was one of the worst by any player in the world cup. Carrying an injury? Maybe. Burnt out? maybe. Holding the weight of expectations of a nation on young shoulders? I put so much faith in him being the explosive catylist - as did millions of England fans. He will now be feeling the collective anger of not a few England fans around the world. It's not fair to single him out since it is a team game. But now putting him in the same bracket as Messi, Ronaldo, Drogba and Kaka is a great disservice to them. Rooney is sulky, immature. He is also talented. I hope he can one day show the world what he can do.

  • Comment number 89.

    Players play best when they can play free.

    They can only play free and win after many, many hours of focussed practice, training and mental discipline.

    It's as true in football as anything else in life.

    And the key corollary for all those in the EPL who think that preparation for playing champions league or internationals is 3 years on the bench at a champions league club is this: you don't learn to take decisions on the pitch sitting on the bench. Because there is just as much need to practice 'playing matches and winning' as there is to bending free kicks round barriers on the training pitch. No more need, but no less need either.

    It's not new this idea.

    It's as old as football.

    It's highly surprising to me that people earning millions of pounds a year either can't see it or wilfully ignore it.

    But equally, if you look carefully at all truly successful teams, they are not TOTALLY filled with youth. There is always a rump of experienced senior pros too.

  • Comment number 90.

    Sorry but i must disagree with the fact that Messi failed to shine. He was a shadow in the Germany game granted, but before that game he was one of the best players in the competition. His attacking play and creativity set up many of Argentinas goals. He certainly was not as good as we have seen in a Barca shirt this season but i, and mny thought he had a very good world cup until the Germany match.

    As for the others stated especially Kaka (bar 30 minutes during the Ivory Coast match) were very poor.

  • Comment number 91.

    I agree with Micaeel and others on this forum. I was of the impression everybody was lauding Messi prior to the ko by Germany. A good example of how short-termist even the so-called experts are.

  • Comment number 92.

    Everyone great news, I have re-watched all of Englands games and Rooney played well !!!! I know, crazy hey, go figure, everybody's calling for his head but believe it or not Rooney had a pretty good tournament. Against USA he tried to stay forward as much as possible but really for 90 mins nothing but a very few scrappy scraps to feed off, when he found himself dropping deeper he would win the ball but no other player tried to get forward. Against Algeria the whole team looked well out of sorts, Rooney was not the worst by a long long way. Against Slovenia and against Germany at times he was simply sublime, what I mean by that is England were so bad that Rooney found himself dropping deeper and deeper winning the ball time and again, when he went forward with the ball he actually set up other players around him, which involved holding the ball up until the old slow players around him could get forward. He only resorted to long range shots twice against Slovenia and once against the Germans. The biggest problem people seem to find with his world cup performance's is "how come he did'nt play as well as he does for Man U ?" Easy, at United he has other world class players around him, awesome wingers and quick great passing midfielders. At England Copello had him up front with Hesksey (who would'nt get into Uniteds third team, no joke) or Defoe who goes ok'ish but aint world class by a long way. AS for some of the other players taking stupid glory seeking long range shots all the time, you all know who I'm talking about !!.
    Rooney was our best player against Slovenia and Germany no question. Lets hope Copello builds his next team around him and lets hope and prey Heskey, Lampard, Gerrard, Terry and OMG Johnson never get to wear the three lions ever again.

  • Comment number 93.

    Good morning,

    Why have the so called stars not sparkled, they are not as good as the are portrayed to be.
    The media continues to make silly statements about these people, such as "heroes", the guys in Afgan are heroes not over paid primadonnas who believe there own publicity.
    Analise what the so called stars do, they kick a bag of wind around a grass field, some of them receive £140K a week for doing that.
    Nobody should receive any remuneration for representing their country, it is an honour.

  • Comment number 94.

    When playing for their clubs these top stars are surrounded by the best money can buy. At the world cup, they have been stuck with the best the coach can scrape together, and it's not always that compatible.

  • Comment number 95.

    Sammuthegreat - WWFC #18

    I like your assessment of Messi, Ronaldo, Kaka, Drogba and Rooney. It is realistic and a good application of mind.

    Out of this lot I'll say Messi and Drogba have not been a let down.
    Messi has done great assists. May be he was subdued in the last match against Germany. In my eyes his value has not gone down. I rate him even better as a team man, now.

    Didier has done enough in spite of his unfortunate injury. Chelsea will love to have him and cherish just as much as ever.

    Ronaldo is a star who shines when he has loads of service, as well as there are one or two others in the team to deflect opponents attentions from him. I will still rate him just as much as before; he was not in the appropriate team if anything.

    Kaka and Rooney have been this World Cup's failures in the true sense. Rooney is young and may still add value, but Kaka is passe, a Real loss.

    Happily new super stars have emerged; a plethora of them for Germany viz Ozil, Muller, Klose, Sweinstagger et al. Diego Forlan for Uruguay. Sneider and Arjen Robbins for the Netherlands, David Villa for Spain et al. There are many in the defensive section of the game that are rarely salient in our recall memory.


    #21 MrOBlivious

    I totally endorse your sharp observation that this Addidas ball has been a very strange and unpredictable innovation.

    There have been a thousand times more balls flying over the cross-bar than under it. And hit by not mere palookas, but by known good players. Clearly players and teams are yet to come to terms with this novelty and its unfamiliar properties.

    I have observed if a ball flies let us say 30 meters then it starts deflecting oddly and eerily in the last 5 meters.

    Comparatively many balls all along the ground have traveled truly straight. I remember one from Arjen Robbins against Brazil that got the goal. it went straight like an arrow. Another was the Dempsey ball that bamboozled the luckless Robert Green, but not because it changed course but on a/c of its lightness to the faintest false touch.

    Ghana who played with a lot of heart were the unlukiest team to have been denied by the biggest piece of chicanery on Suarez part. In the team context it will be overenthusiastic of us to condemn the felon too much though.

  • Comment number 96.

    As a Fulham fan, I have every reason to dislike Diego Forlan. However, he has been a revelation in this competition. The ball does nor seem to phase him, nor the amount of games that he played for Atletico the past season. He has been a class act in every way and has been one of the outstanding players of the competition. He has not been surrounded by a myriad of talent, yet has performed as a word class player. Kaka, Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney, Torres? Step aside and watch a class act in the semi-final!

  • Comment number 97.

    Here are the reasons:

    Kaka is having a bad run. He was off form.

    Drogba was injured

    Messi has had a good WC and still be named best player in the world this year. His Argentina team mates were not up to it.

    Ronaldo tried best he could but Portugal were poor. He is no Zidane or Maradona. He can not carry a team to the final on his own, but he did OK.

    Rooney was poor, through and through. It may be no surprise that he did not shine. Rooney had a good run at Manchester United last season. He put in good performances in the EPL, but I doubt that he has ability at the level of the others mentioned. Do not confuse performance with ability. A player of average ability can have a great season, before he goes back to his average. Next season will be crucial for Rooney. We will see whether he is the real deal. Putting him in the same bracket of Ronaldo, Messi, Kaka and Drogba is a little premature at this time.

  • Comment number 98.

    Argentina were let down by lack of a coach - Maradona is a one man show, and cute, maybe, but he's no tactician.

    On the other hand, they were also thrashed by a German team that's simply superb. How else can you say it. 4:0 against Argentina, coach or not, is amazing. You could see everything they did worked, apart from a weak spell at the end of the first half. They need the half time speeches because they're so young. It works on them. Germany in the second half - watch out!!

    In previous games, we had seen a creative brilliance about the German attack that wouldn't surprise us if it was Brazil or Messi playing. But for Germany it's unheard of at least in my lifetime. In the Argentina game we saw unbelievable defending as well. Argentina were actually pretty strong; but they were up against the best German team I have seen in my lifetime. That their qualities all center on teamwork and joy of play makes it even better.

  • Comment number 99.

    Thank you Sammuthegreat (COMMENT 5)!!! You absolutely speak sense and should write for the BBC. Although it is worth noting that I thought Ronaldo played absolutely fantastically in the WC 2006 AND well in the EC 2004 when he was very young.

  • Comment number 100.

    All those stars didn't perform but others did, like Sneijder, Forlan, Villa, and Schweinsteiger, to name a few.

 

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