- Published on Tuesday, 08 July 2014 15:42
- Written by Super User
In a tournament blessed with high-scoring matches, goalkeepers have become the unlikely cult heroes of this World Cup.
Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa led the charge. The out-of-contract shotstopper earned less in a year at relegated French side Ajaccio than Wayne Rooney earns in a week at Manchester United.
A fan of the French club has subsequently put his house up for sale in order to stump up the cash to keep Ochoa between the sticks.
But he's not the only keeper to capture the imagination at the World Cup. Lille and Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama was already a fan favourite for comedy classics such as "leaning against the goalpost while the other team attacks" and Algeria keeper Rais M'Bolhi had also gained a following for his lesser known masterpiece of "throwing a football at a striker's head".
But which goalkeeper has been the best at the World Cup?
Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico)
Along with Mexico coach Miguel Herrera, Ochoa has become something of a sensation at the World Cup.
Save rate - 76.8%
Rais M'Bolhi (Algeria)
The type of guy you don't mess with! The boss of his 18-yard box, M'Bolhi pulled off some sensational saves for Algeria against Germany, and kept his side in the game.
Save rate - 76.7%
Vincent Enyeama (Nigeria)
The Lille goalkeeper is well-known in France for his charismatic and solid displays, and THAT video of him leaning on a goalpost while the opposition are bearing down on goal has been watched by the majority of humans on earth.
Save rate - 80.8%
Manuel Neuer (Germany)
Probably his finest moment at this World Cup so far has been his fleeting appearance as a right-back against Algeria. You want to score against a German goalkeeper? Sorry, pal, no can do.
Save rate - 81.3%
Tim Howard (USA)
Has won the praise of the Barrack Obama (and the rest of America) for his superb performance against Belgium, in which he made a world record 16 saves. And what about that beard, eh?
Save rate - 82.4%
Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)
The Belgian keeper is a cult hero in his own country, where fans of the towering giant recreate his finest saves in video form and post them to YouTube. He has quietly got on with his job at the World Cup.
Save rate - 85.7%
Keylor Navas (Costa Rica)
If you want to score a penalty against Keylor Navas, then you're going to have to do something pretty special. The Costa Rican keeper was integral in getting his side through to the quarter-finals.
Save rate - 87.5%
Julio Cesar (Brazil)
Won the "trust of Brazil" back with his stunning performance in the penalty shootout with Chile, helping his side avoid the embarrassment of being knocked out in the round of 16.
Save rate - 66.7%
David Ospina (Colombia)
When the manager of the other team single-handedly blames you for his own side's loss, then you know you played pretty well. Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez labelled Ospina as being "extraordinary".
Save rate - 90%
Hugo Lloris (France)
Fans of the Premier League have been treated to plenty of marvelous displays from Lloris this year, and despite the fact that his side have spent the majority of their time attacking the opposition, he has been unflappable when called upon.
Save rate - 80%
- Published on Tuesday, 08 July 2014 14:03
- Written by Super User
Just one game away from a World Cup final in the Maracana and an opportunity to finally heal 64 years of pain, Brazil is still struggling to overcome the loss of their talisman.
For more than a year, Brazil's desperation to put right a defeat to Uruguay in the decisive match in 1950 has centered on one man: Neymar. Now heading into the two decisive, toughest matches of that quest, the one player in this current team who still embodies the instinctive skills displayed by Brazilians across the country on beaches and in the favelas will be absent.
With less than five minutes remaining of a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Colombia, the exuberant forward received a knee to his back from opposition defender Juan Zuniga that left him howling in pain. For the 22-year-old, a competition for which he has long been the poster boy, carrying the weight of a most-demanding nation, was now over.
It is a competition for which he already gave plenty, scoring four goals and providing the corner from which Brazil went in front in their quarterfinal. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari did not attempt to hide the scale of the loss, calling it a "catastrophe." Brazil now have to win without him. On Tuesday in Belo Horizonte, Brazil has to beat Germany without him.
The loss of Brazil's one player capable of consistently getting fans off their seats with his brilliance is a cruel irony for the hosts. Scolari's team are a dramatic departure from the Brazil that wowed the world with its brilliance en route to lifting the World Cup in 1970, or even the thrilling 1982 side widely regarded as the best ever not to claim the trophy. The 2014 version is one unlikely to inspire imitations among children across Brazil and across the globe.
No, the quarterfinal win over Colombia was a new benchmark for a Brazil team based on counter-attacking, tactical fouling and cynicism. There were plenty of signs of those tactics in last year's Confederations Cup, but it has taken on a harsher tone as the stakes have gotten higher in this World Cup. In both the Round of 16 match against Chile and then the quarterfinal against Colombia, Fernandinho set an early tone by leaving his mark on an opponent after the ball had gone. Throughout both games, the opposition team's star man, Alexis Sanchez of Chile and James Rodríguez of Colombia, was the target for repeated fouling. Each match saw new benchmarks for the number of total fouls during this World Cup, with Brazil leading the way on both occasions. In all South American battles, Brazil's opponents followed their neighbors lead and the referees failed to take command. It wasn't quite the infamous battle of Santiago from the 1962 World Cup, but beautiful it was not.
People will have different opinions about the morality of such tactics, but there is no doubt that it smacks of hypocrisy when Brazil now complain about their star player being the target of roughhousing. Brazil have paid a huge price for a battle they began.
The match against Colombia perhaps shocked some who cling to the idea of Brazil still embodying o jogo bonito. Yet, the fact is that the Brazilians have been moving away from that idealized image for some time now, and it is just unfortunate that is has reached its nadir with the World Cup back on its own soil. Perhaps Scolari's tactics are, albeit cynically, simply maximizing a limited team's chances of lifting the trophy.
There is, of course, thankfully more to Brazil's game than just fouling and there were some encouraging signs against Colombia. When Brazil play at a ferocious tempo as they did early on in their quarterfinal and as they did to start many of their matches in the Confederations Cup, they are a difficult prospect. A talented Colombia could not handle them. The problem comes when that pace drops and it becomes a more technical, tactical matchup. Brazil then look incredibly ordinary. A team heavy on athletic, powerful players lacks the quality on the ball to control the pace of the game. Against both Chile and Colombia, Brazil took the lead after a fast start but were pegged back when their intensity dropped.
The strength of their defense has gone a long way to seeing them through so far. Against Germany, though, the rock at the heart of their back four, Thiago Silva, will be missing. Bayern Munich's Dante will step in, but it is another huge blow.
Germany then must surely come into their semifinal with confidence. Yet, like Brazil, they will also be playing under intense pressure. Germany are in a record fourth-straight World Cup semifinal but that consistency will count for little if they bow out and continue their recent reputation as the nearly men of the international game. With a hugely talented selection of players, head coach Joachim Löw is now expected to deliver a trophy to a country that once won them with incredible efficiency and regularity, but is in the midst of an 18-year drought when they took home the European title.
Encouragingly for Löw, his side head into the semifinal on the back of their best performance since an opening 4-0 drubbing of Portugal. Against France in the quarterfinals, Löw went back on his word and put captain Philipp Lahm in his traditional right-back slot, while playing Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger together in midfield. The change worked out. Lahm contributed much, both defensively and offensively, down the right flank while Germany crucially got the better of a talented and physical French midfield. The margin of victory was just 1-0, but it was a win that rarely looked in doubt.
It would be a major surprise were Löw not to go with the same formula again against Brazil, with the only change perhaps being whether Miroslav Klose continues to lead the line.
There is no doubt that Germany have better players than Brazil. Everything being equal, it would be hard to bet against Löw's side coming out on top. Their midfield should be able to handle the physicality of Brazil, while having more ability on the ball, and Germany also have far more talent going forward.
And yet, Brazil just might, somehow, pull off another victory. Clearly the loss of Neymar greatly hurts Brazil's creativity and ability to capitalize on their counter attacks. But what it also might do is improve them when they don't have the ball. The one change from the successful Confederations Cup side has been Scolari's decision to move Neymar into a central role and shift Oscar out wide. While it has perhaps enabled Neymar to become more of an influence, it has also made the midfield more lightweight. Throughout the tournament, Brazil's midfield has often been ludicrously open, always providing their opponents opportunities.
Without Neymar, the more defensively sound Oscar is likely to be brought back into the middle. Willian may well be the man to replace Neymar, and, as he has shown with Chelsea this season, he is dedicated in tracking back and well equipped to play in a counter-attacking side. Willian and Hulk also have the pace to catch out a Germany backline that, while much better against France, is still vulnerable to players running in behind.
Brazil will hope it is a match decided between the ears rather than with the feet. Far from the ruthless machines of decades past, this Germany team has often appeared to be lacking mental resolve when it matters most. In contrast, Scolari has infused his side with real belief, which just might enable another narrow win that again will be far from pretty.
When and where: The 2014 World Cup semifinal between Brazil and Germany will kick off from the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte at 4 p.m. ET.
Nepalifootball.com Prediction: Brazil 2-1 Germany
- Published on Saturday, 05 July 2014 14:23
- Written by Super User
Lionel Messi has been the subject of an ever increasing barrage of comparisons with Diego Maradona as he seeks to match the maverick legend and lead Argentina to the World cup trophy. A meeting with Belgium in the quarterfinals will do nothing to diminish such talk.
It was against the same country in the 1986 semifinals that Maradona really cemented the legacy of having all-but single-handedly delivered Argentina their second, and to this date last, World Cup. Off the back of scoring both goals against England, Maradona did likewise against Belgium, the second another brilliant individual strike that features prominently in the annals of the World Cup.
Thus far, there has been plenty to suggest that Messi will have to come up with similar instances of individual brilliance if Argentina are to get by Belgium and go onto take the trophy. For the first time on the World Cup stage, Messi has given a full account of his genius to the expectant watching billions across the globe. That has been enough to see Argentina win four matches out of four in Brazil, despite so few of his teammates providing a real helping hand.
Argentina have scored seven goals so far, Messi has scored four, assisted another, while one was an own goal and the other came from set piece. In the Round of 16, Messi was almost a lone force trying to break down Switzerland's resistance, but, when not frustrated by the Swiss goalkeeper, he was let done by his teammates' failure to capitalize on his good work. In the end, it took almost the full quota of extra time for Messi to break clear and slip a perfect pass into the path of Angel di Maria to get the win. Di Maria, while not always successfully, at least was battling to make an impact late on and gave the most encouraging signs yet that he could be ready to support Messi.
There is much doubt, however, about just where further support will come from. Messi's partnership with Sergio Aguero was a major hit during qualification, but having not looked fit, the Manchester City striker is now ruled out with injury and his future participation in the tournament remains in doubt. Another member of Argentina's famed three-pronged attack has also looked far from sharp. Gonzalo Higuain came into the tournament lacking fitness and has made little to no impact so far. And the man required to link what can sometimes become a broken team, as well as to supply Messi, Fernando Gago, has lacked incisiveness with his passing.
Add that list of issues to a defense that has as expected been suspect, and Belgium have reason to go into the tie with plenty of confidence. It also took Belgium extra time and then further late drama even after establishing a lead to progress through the Round of 16. But against the United States Marc Wilmots' much-hyped team produced their best performance of the World Cup and one that for the first time suggested they could fulfill much pre-tournament tipping.
While getting through the group stage with maximum points, Belgium had been far from convincing. Key to the improvement last time out was the performance of Kevin de Bruyne. Despite the attention given to bigger names like Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, in qualifying for the World Cup it was De Bruyne who was the team's standout performer with four goals and four assists. Against the U.S. he was able to find those crucial pockets of space in between the lines to knit the previously fractured team together and become the key influence on the match. In extra time it was the former Chelsea and now Wolfsburg midfielder who provided the crucial opening goal and then an assist for the second.
Lukaku was the recipient of that assist and the supplier of one for the first goal after coming off the bench to run a tired U.S. defense ragged. Previously completely ineffectual in the tournament, having become first choice in the place of the injured Christian Benteke, Lukaku had lost his place in the side to 19-year-old Divock Origi. His showing against the U.S. could now see him win it back.
Yet, while Argentina's star man has delivered in abundance so far, Belgium's has only done so in the briefest of flashes. If Hazard can finally start producing the play he is capable of for his country then Belgium will feel they can truly be a threat to any team.
Both teams have weaknesses for the other to exploit. Belgium are especially vulnerable down their left flank, where Hazard often neglects his defensive duties and Jan Vertonghen is playing out of position at left-back. Argentina may look to move Ezequiel Lavezzi wider onto that side and try to get the thus far below-par Pablo Zabaleta overlapping.
Argentina's defense presents at least as much opportunity, however. The back line will be further weakened by the absence through suspension of Marco Rojo, with José Basanta -- a center-back by trade -- likely to come in. The direct running of Dries Mertens should pose the 30-year-old problems, while the pace of either Lukaku or Origi could torment Federico Fernandez at the heart of Argentina's defense.
Goals then should be in store. Once again it could be Messi -- and perhaps this time supported by Di Maria -- who proves decisive in just keeping Argentina on course for the trophy.
When and where: The 2014 World Cup quarterfinal will kick off from the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia at noon ET.
nepalifootball.com Predicts:-Argentina 3-2 Belgium
- Published on Friday, 27 June 2014 22:41
- Written by Super User
The group stages has been finished in Brazil. 16 teams have progressed to the Round of 16 while other 16 have returned home. There has been heroes and villains, successes and shocks in this edition of FIFA World Cup 2014.
World Cup is full of surprises. World Cup 98 saw France winning the World Cup and Croatia finishing the third. It was Zinedine Zidane's World Cup. Four years later, Both Turkey and South Koreans reached the Semis.
This World Cup has been no different, including the World Champions Spain, four times World Cup winners Italy and one time World Cup Champions England are out early from the Group stage.
But it was no surprise that all Asians have left the World Cup from the group stage. We will focus on four contenders rather than all sixteen teams in the Round of 16.
Why only four teams?
The top four teams are selected on the basis of Odds to Win the World Cup provided from nine Bookmakers. Netherlands are one of the favourite to win the World Cup without a title on their names alongside hosts Brazil, three times champions Germany and two times champions Argentina.
The List of Bookmakers are Paddypower, WilliamHill, Ladbrokes, Betfred, Bet365, betfair, BetVictor, winner and SkyBET. The odds are used in mode i.e. frequency of odds.
World Cup Appearances: 19
Highest Finishing: 5 World Cup titles
FIFA Ranking: 3
Odds of winning the World Cup: 1/3
Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1
Preferred Strategy: Possession
Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari
The hosts Brazil are the only team which has appeared in every edition of FIFA World Cup since it started in 1930. Brazil are record world champions with 5 titles. Their recent championship was 2002 World Cup when Ronaldo scored twice to win the title against Germany.
Brazil are favourite for this World Cup not only as hosts but also of free scoring team. After slow start against group challengers Croatia, Brazil has scored seven goals where only one goal has came from penalty kick. Although the penalty was controversial on the first match and Croatia blamed their exit on Japanese referee, Neymar Jr. has been phenomenal for next two games scoring four goals in 3 matches.
Brazilians are more dangerous on open plays rather than set pieces. The matches are unpredictable on this World Cup however, Brazil seems to have an easier route to Semi Finals as it will meet its South American counterparts in their Round of 16 as well as Quarter Final (if they beat Chile).
Player to Watch: Neymar Jr.
World Cup Appearances: 17
Highest Finishing: 3 World Cup titles
FIFA Ranking: 2
Odds of winning the World Cup: 1/4
Preferred Formation: 4-3-3
Preferred Strategy: Possession
Coach: Joachim Low
Three time World Champions have easily defeated the FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal 4-0. Germans took the lead 2-0 easily but were gifted with two more goals by Mueller after Pepe was sent off for head-butting him. He completed the first hat trick of the tournament.
The progress to the Round of 16 should have been smooth but Germans had to come back from 2-1 down to level the game against Ghana. Miroslav Klose scored his Joint record goal with Ronaldo (of Brazil) for 15th World Cup goal to salvage a team. Germany finished top of the table after dominating and beating United States 1-0. Mueller being the lone scorer of the match. Portugal did a great favour for USA after beating Ghana 2-1. Germans are bound to meet France at quarters and then meet hosts Brazil at the Semis.
Player to Watch: Thomas Mueller
Club: Bayern Muenchen FC (Germany)
Highest Finishing: 2 World Cup titles
FIFA Ranking: 5
Odds of winning the World Cup: 1/4
Preferred Formation: 4-1-2-1-2
Preferred Strategy: Possession
Coach: Alejandro Sabella
Argentina are one of the few teams that have collected maximum of 9 points from their group stages. This World Cup has been so far the pinnacle of Three times FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi who scored winning goals against Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Iran. He played pivotal role in win against Nigeria in final group match scoring twice to give the lead.
Argentina being one of the favourite struggled to win their first two matches. Sergio Romero made the crucial matches for the advance into the Round of 16. Di Maria has been playing well but the strikers Higuain and Aguero has been ineffective so far.
English World Cup winner Gary Lineker has regarded Lionel Messi as the best of this Generation.
Player to Watch: Lionel Messi
Club: FCBarcelona (Spain)
World Cup Appearances: 9
Highest Finishing: 3 Runner-ups
FIFA Ranking: 15
Odds of winning the World Cup: 2/15
Preferred Formation: 3-4-1-2
Preferred Strategy: Long Balls
Coach: Louis Van Gaal
Netherlands have reached World Cup final match in previous three occasions but had to settle only with silverware. They have lost their three finals against Germany (1974), Argentina (1978) and Spain (2010).
Netherlands have already showed their competence this year by avenging the defending Champions 5-1 for South Africa 2010 Final. Robin Van Persie started the scoring with one of the best goals of the tournament while Robben scored twice to beat the Champions. The second match did not match the performance of the first as Australians rose their game. Robben scored again and Netherlands were lucky to pick up all three points. Netherlands then comfortably collected maximum points by beating high flying Chile.
Their road to semis look smooth on books. But this World Cup is not short of surprises. They are expected to meet Argentina at the Semis.
Player to Watch: Arjen Robben
Club: Bayern Muenchen FC (Germany)
Odds of other teams
The rest of the teams cannot be ignored out of the equation. The other 12 teams in the Round of 16 have following odds for winning the World Cup 2014.
Costa Rica 1/50
The way the Round of 16 is pitted, it seems like Brazil vs Germany and Netherlands vs Argentina semi finals. But football world is unexpected thus surprises can be inevitable.
Highlights so far
1. Hat tricks by Thomas Mueller and Xherdan Shaqiri
2. Luiz Suarez banned four months internationally for biting Giorgio Chiellini.
3. All four Asian teams failed to progress into the Round of 16.
4. Cameroon, Honduras and Australia leave World Cup without a single point.
5. Netherlands are highest scoring team with 10 goals so far.
6. France are best attacking team with 62 attempts and 7 goals so far.
7. Germany are best passers with 1792 completed passed with 85% accuracy so far.
8. Iran were best defending team after defending 92 attempts.
- Published on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 16:23
- Written by Super User
Having both fallen victim to this World Cup's Cinderella story, Costa Rica, Italy and Uruguay now meet for the right to join Los Ticos in the Round of 16. A draw will be enough for Italy to advance on goal difference, while Uruguay must win to keep hope alive of at least replicating their semifinal berth of four years ago.
The intrigue created by the do-or-die nature of the match is only exacerbated by the uncertainty over just what kind of performance the teams will produce. Both Uruguay and Italy have been insipid in defeat to Costa Rica, yet impressed in 2-1 wins over the now eliminated England.
While various factors have undoubtedly been at play, it is hard not to think that one of the chief ones has been the conditions. In their opening game, Uruguay had gotten a lead against Costa Rica and, given their preference for sitting deep and playing on the break, appeared set up for a routine three points. Instead, Costa Rica came back superbly in the second half and Uruguay fell apart in uncharacteristic fashion. In the oppressive conditions in Fortaleza, Uruguay's elderly side -- not a single member of the starting lineup was under 27 -- they appeared to have nothing left to give.
It was a similar story for Italy when playing in another of the hot and humid northern cities, Recife, against Costa Rica. Midfielder Daniele de Rossi had spoken ahead of the match of Italy's experiences at the same venue in last year's Confederations Cup when they were "dying from the heat." Initially, perhaps wary of over-exerting themselves or maybe already drained from their 90 minutes in the Amazonian city of Manaus against England, Italy set a slow tempo. And it only became more pedestrian as they showed little suggestion of being able to overturn a 1-0 deficit.
"Once we've finished training today we'll see what kind of condition we are in," Buffon said ahead of the Uruguay match, according to AFP . "I think a lot of European teams are struggling compared to the Latin Americans. But that isn't an excuse. The climate is the same for all of our opponents."
When Italy and Uruguay meet, it will be in the early afternoon heat of Natal and the conditions will again surely play a part in who prevails. Of course the ability to deal with the climate and in Italy's case yet another long journey from their base camp on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, are far from the only factors.
As well as the luxury of being able to play in the cooler conditions of Sao Paulo, Uruguay's performance was aided against England by a change of personnel and system. Teenager Jose Gimenez, with just a handful of appearances in senior club soccer never mind international level, impressed in place of veteran central defender Diego Lugano. Meanwhile, the midfielder played with more intensity, and was more compact with Edinson Cavani also dropping deep.
And then, of course, there was the return of Luis Suarez. Less than a month on from undergoing knee surgery, Suarez fulfilled his pledge to be fit to take on the country where he plays at club level for Liverpool. There was no way he could be fully fit, and indeed his performance backed that up. Yet he produced the match's two defining moments when heading in the opening goal and then lashing the ball past England goalkeeper Joe Hart for a dramatic and priceless late winner. With Suarez, Uruguay are a threat to win any match.
Italy will be ruing that they didn't get the same kind of impact from their own leading striker with a habit of dipping their toes into controversial waters. Mario Balotelli had two early chances against Costa Rica that could have given them a lead to sit back on as they tired. Instead, unlike when scoring the winner against England, the Milan star lacked the requisite sharpness and the opportunities were squandered. The consequences could be similarly stark against a Uruguay side based around defensive organization.
Balotelli should have more support against Uruguay, however. Reports suggest that Italy have been training with a 3-5-2 formation and are set to start with that shape for the first time in this World Cup against Uruguay. That would mean Balotelli getting a partner up front in the shape of last season's top scorer in Serie A, Ciro Immobile. At the back, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci will resume their Juventus partnership. Marco Verratti is likely to come back in to replace Thiago Motta and give Italy another playmaking option alongside Andrea Pirlo, although De Rossi is expected to miss out with a calf injury.
A back three makes a sense for Italy against a Uruguay team that will play with two center-forwards. Cavani, though, is unlikely to play right up top alongside Suarez, and it makes sense for him to drop deep again in order to try to limit the influence of Pirlo. With Uruguay's midfield set to be compact once more, it will be a match that will in all likelihood be decided through the middle of the pitch.
Purely on the strength of the two teams, Italy would have to be favorites to prevail. Given that they only need a draw that is especially true. However, under Cesare Prandelli, Italy are no longer a team happy or perhaps even able to simply sit back and grind out a result. A three-man backline should make them stronger defensively, but the loss of De Rossi's presence in the midfield is a major blow. It is a match that will likely come down to incredibly small margins. It could be that Italy, after three successive games in the heat coupled with a day's less rest fade greater, and the individual brilliance of Suarez once again comes up trumps.
Uruguay 1-0 Italy
When and where: the 2014 World Cup Group D match will kick off from the Estadio das Dunas in Natal at noon ET on Tuesday. Coverage will be provided by ESPN.
source and Photo:-ibtimes.com