Football is the most popular and played sport in the entire planet with the World Cup attracting millions of viewers every 4 years and turning into one of the most watched sporting events ever as fans tuned in to watch their respective nations compete against some of the best squads in the world with hope of lifting the most prestigious silverware in the sport.
Having so much fans and people from all corners of the world has turned football into something much more than just a sport as it represents something much more valuable for certain nations but at the same time it has started to serve as an income for fans, players and even managers as they try to predict what the outcome of a certain match will be with some of them even attempting to rig or manipulate the results with the final objective of it being to get a result that would award them with cash. Read more »
Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has come out in praise of US national team boss Jurgen Klinsmann after the German led the national team to a very good showing at the World Cup 2014. The US came into the World Cup anticipating a tough tournament due to a difficult group stage. There were in the same group as Germany, Portugal, and Ghana. This was billed as the group of death with the US being put as third favourites to qualify from it. However, the team managed a remarkable performance after reaching the last 16 of the tournament.
They came up against a Belgium team with stars like Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany, but they almost managed to beat the Europeans. This has been seen as an incredible achievement by the country where football is not one of the popular sports. However, the popularity has increased greatly in recent years with a number of kids taking to the game. Simeone, who was one of the best managers last season, managed to get his Atletico Madrid team, which was built on a shoestring budget, to the Champions League final and also to league success.
He says that Klinsmann’s achievement at the World Cup is simply remarkable considering the position football finds itself in the United States.
“Klinsmann has revolutionized football in the United States. He has been able to get a whole country behind the team, and that’s very difficult in the USA. But above all, he got the team working together and for each other – and they competed at an excellent level in the World Cup. It was a great collective effort – and that’s what seduces us as coaches,” said the South American. Rather than defend their way to the knockout stages, the US captured the attention by playing an attractive style of football.
Netherlands scored 2-1 against Mexico to strive to the quarterfinals of World Cup 2014. It was Wesley Sneijder and Klaas Jan Huntelaar who shot late goals to drive Mexico to 2-1. In fact Huntelaar was the substitute who came at the 76th minute.
It was Huntelaar’s day and he did not even know that it would come soon. But it was his first appearance and he did not fail to disappoint. Mexicans got the lead in the 48th minute due to Giovani Dos Santos but again in the 88th minute Sneijder equalled the goals. Sneijder also scored it for the first time in this World Cup after scoring five goals in the last World Cup at South Africa. Robben gave the ball to Huntelaar as he had already scored three goals for Netherlands. Robben believed in Huntelaar and that is why he did not hesitate in handing the ball to him. Although Huntelaar and Sneijder scored one goal each but credit must be given to the coach of Netherlands who peaked at the right time making tactical changes in the team.
Earlier too during Australia he had applied similar tactics in the second half of the game. Ochoa the Mexican goalkeeper did his best to save two goals in the second half but he could not stop Huntelaar and Sneijder from striking the ball in the net. It was appearing very confident of the Mexicans since the goalkeeper had done a brilliant job in the group stages of saving goals and conceding just one goal. Robben stated that if not for the five minutes they would have been out of 2014 World Cup but Mexican coach blamed the referee. The Mexican fans were in tears after an unbelievable match which they certainly wish to forget.
Brazil defender Dani Alves has claimed that the victories in the warmup matches count for nothing, as they need to perform well in the actual tournament. Brazil have been doing well in recent friendly matches, while the results from the pre-tournament matches have also been excellent as well. Despite this, there is a concern that Brazil may lose it when the tournament starts. Alves has responded to those fears by stating that the team is aware that the results from these warmup matches count for nothing.
Brazil have to do it when it matters most – in the opening game against Croatia on June 12. This will be followed by matches against Mexico and Cameroon. Three points from the opening fixture against Croatia will put Brazil in a comfortable position going into these two matches, but Alves reckons that nobody is favourites going into the tournament. Alves comes on the back of a disappointing season with Barcelona in which he failed to win any major trophy for the first time in his career with the Catalan club. He is hoping to put behind this disappointment with the ultimate prize of all – a World Cup title.
Alves is aware that the home support will be extremely demanding of the team at times. “I think the result today matters less. The important thing is to get back to playing the way we want to, rather than results. Everyone took part and that’s what makes our group strong. Everyone is available to help. I don’t usually score, I usually help the team in other ways. But everyone’s happy when you’re able to get a goal,” said the defender, who is widely expected to leave Barcelona in the summer.
Brazil striker Fred also accepted that the pressure on the team has been increasing in recent weeks.
Former England and Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer has claimed that Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney should finally perform at his best in the upcoming World Cup 2014. Rooney is regarded as one of the best players at the international level, but he has often failed to deliver in the big stage. He has been either unfit for major tournaments or had it disrupted due to suspensions. The World Cup 2014 may be the first time Rooney goes into a competition in a good run of form. Due to the several injuries for Robin van Persie, the 28-year-old England international lead the line for United in the second half of the season.
Despite it becoming a very poor season for the club, Rooney redeemed himself with some excellent performances over the course of the season. There were doubts that he would miss the World Cup after sustaining a toe injury a few weeks ago. He also had to miss the final match of the Premier league season – against Southampton – due to hip injury. Despite this, United interim manager Ryan Giggs stated that he was confident Rooney will be fit for the World Cup.
Shearer says that Rooney needs to put in a good performance if England are to get past the quarter-finals.
“It’s a gap in the story of his career which he would like to fill. But he probably hasn’t yet gone to a World Cup in the best of fitness and you can’t argue with his record at international level overall. But he needs to go out and have a big tournament. If he does that, he will be the key to us having a successful World Cup. When Rooney plays well, England play well. I’m a Rooney fan. He ticks all the boxes as a player,” Shearer told reporters.
The pressure is building upon the managers who have to select their list of 23 players which will represent their respective countries for the 2014 World Cup but there is no nation that has more pressure and expectations than Brazil.
Brazil will be surrounded by their home fans and home turf but the factor that has elevated expectations for the team of Scolari is due to the results of their previous tournament as the Brazilians claimed victories against Japan, Mexico, Italy, Uruguay and Spain which allowed them on sealing the Confederations Cup trophy.
The Brazilians have lifted the World Cup trophy on 5 occasions which is more than any other nation and the young generation of players which have been emerging and performing in major European clubs have increased even further the hopes of Brazil winning the upcoming World Cup.
Earlier in March Brazil played a friendly match against South Africa and blasted 5 goals past their opposition with Barcelona’s Neymar being the main engine behind Brazil as he scored 3 goals for his nation but this performance will be worth nothing if they are unable to get positive results in the 2014 World Cup when the eyes of the world will be watching.
Neymar is not the only young sensation player that is expected to push Brazil not only to the finals of the World Cup but also be claimed as the champions for the 6th time. Oscar, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Hulk, are all of the other players which are performing sublimely well with their European clubs and they have already showcased the world class abilities at their disposal which will be crucial for not only for Neymar but for Brazil as they will need all the help available in order to lift the World Cup trophy once more.
Chelsea defender David Luiz, who is a first-team regular with Brazil, says that it is important for the national team to lift the World Cup when it is hosted in the summer by his country. The tournament will return to Brazil for the first time since 1950. Even though there are several problems surrounding the infrastructure and stadium development, Brazil are expected to host a successful World Cup. Being a football crazy nation, pressure is always high on the players to deliver results. It will be even more when it is a home tournament.
It is for this reason that Luiz says there can be no excuses. The 26-year-old comes into the tournament as one of the first choice defenders for Luiz Felipe Scolari. He has competition from Bayern Munich’s Dante, but Luiz has formed a great partnership with Thiago Silva in the centre of defence. After numerous troubles in the last few years, Scolari managed to get Brazil a trophy last year, as the nation lifted the confederations cup. Luiz was in full price of the former Chelsea boss, who has already guided Brazil to World Cup success in his previous spell.
Luiz says that the positive attitude of Scolari has managed to rub onto the players.
“We need to win the World Cup. I’m very excited. I think it will be a great World Cup for everyone, but for Brazilian people even more. They have been waiting for this for more than 50 years, so I’m very excited for my generation. There is a lot of pressure on us, we’re working very hard and we have a great opportunity because we’re playing at home. There will be more pressure on us than the other countries,” said Luiz. Brazil open the tournament with a match against Croatia on 13 June.
Former German international Lothar Matthaus says that his nation has a great chance of winning the World Cup 2014 because he does not think Spain are the best possible shape right now. Spain come into the tournament as the outright favourites according to the bookmakers, but they are not stable or perfect as they have been in the last few years according to the former Inter Milan midfielder. This is due to the changes made to Spain’s style of play in order to accommodate new players. Some of the influential players over the last five years like Xavi and Carlos Puyol are also slowing down due to age.
This has put Germany and Brazil in a great position to win the tournament according to Matthaus. Spain’s victory at the 2010 World Cup was their third consecutive major title. This follows years of underachievement during which time they went without a trophy for more than four decades. Vicente del Bosque still has a lot of confusion about players for the World Cup. Even though Spain are rich in midfield, they do not have the best options up front. Germany have disappointed in recent major tournaments, but they finally have the experience and maturity to win the World Cup again.
Germany, though, have a tough group to negotiate in order to get to the latter stages of the tournament.
“Spain have won the last three major titles but they’re not as overwhelming or as stable now. That’s why I think Germany have a better chance of success than Spain. I believe Brazil and Germany are the two strongest teams, closely followed by Spain. At the 2013 Confederations Cup, Brazil showed they can handle the pressure of winning important games at home, while Germany have been consistent for several years now,” said Matthaus.
England are not one of the favourites to win the World Cup 2014, but they do have a chance to cause an upset due to the presence of star names like Jack Wilshere. Arsenal’s Wilshere is regarded as the future England captain, but the 21-year-old has revealed that he needs to work hard in every match to be sure of a place in the England team. Wilshere is expected to be one of the first names on the team sheet for the plane to Brazil, but he has stated that competition for places remains more intense than ever.
Wilshere has been playing for the national team for a few years, but this could be his first major tournament as a first-team regular. Even though England ultimately qualified for the tournament by finishing top of the group, they have suffered defeats against Chile and Germany friendly matches. These two opponents may come up against England in Brazil, which has started doubts about their ability to even get past the group stages. Wilshere has stated that the players like Ravel Morrison are continuing to improve every match. Since they play in a similar position, he cannot take his place for granted.
“That is where you are going to get into the England World Cup squad – by playing well for your club, then you are going to get picked for your country. You have seen over the last couple of months that the talent there is, even in the Under-21s, with Ravel Morrison and all these players coming through. You are never guaranteed and cannot rest on your laurels. You are only as good as your last game,” said Wilshere. After returning from a long-term injury, the midfielder has been starting games regularly for Arsenal this season. He recently scored his first goal of the season against West Brom.
Michael Carrick will be one of the senior members of the squad when England play at the 2014 World Cup, as they are extremely close to sealing qualification to this major tournament. This World Cup will also be the final tournament for the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, which could make Carrick as the senior most midfielder amongst the ranks. Many expect the former Tottenham midfielder also to call upon his retirement after the end of this tournament, but he thinks otherwise. Even though he has not been one of the talked about players among the Golden generation, Carrick sees himself continuing for the national team after the World Cup.
Prior to the national team return under Roy Hodgson, Carrick made just one international appearance in the previous management of Fabio Capello. This led to many rumours that he would eventually retire in order to concentrate on his Manchester United career. Now back in the England fold, he is expected to utilise his years of experience to guide the team. Despite being one of the most successful English midfielders having lifted the Champions league amongst many other titles, Carrick has featured only 29 times for the England national team.
This is less than the appearances made by some of the young players in the team.
“I haven’t given any thought to the World Cup being my last major international tournament. You never know what’s around the corner. It’s the next big opportunity, a massive opportunity, but in terms of it being my last one, I wouldn’t say so, no. There’s no reason why I’d look to pack up anytime soon. For me personally, I don’t think last season was any different to the two or three years before that. I felt my form was good,” said Carrick ahead of the match with Moldova.