Friday, 11 July 2014

Top 5 Players I enjoyed at the 2014 World Cup

One of the best things about the World Cup is the chance to see players you don't know much about. I don't follow European football very closely and even in English football tend to be focused on the league Fulham are in. So these aren't necessarily the best players at the competition just the ones that caught my eye and entertained me.

1. Thomas Müller (GERMANY) - By no means an unknown player but probably my current favourite in world football. I like a goal scorer and Müller certainly knows where the goal is but he also adds a degree of guile & cunning to the German attack. None of these are the reason he's number 1 though, it's all about his style of play and those low slung socks. I've spent a large proportion of every match trying to work out if he's playing without shin pads, I've decided he is but that their really tiny old school ones. He seems to play the game at his own pace and gives the impression he's not trying too hard because he doesn't really need too.

2. James Rodriguez (COLUMBIA) - I think everyone will remember James Rodriguez as one of the stars of this tournament. Six goals are going to get you noticed and might win you the golden boot. At least two of those goals were absolute corkers and I think, despite the fact Tim Cahill's volley was outstanding, his first goal against Uruguay is my goal of the tournament.

3. Gary Medel (CHILE) - I knew Medel played for Cardiff but honestly had no idea he was from Chile until this World Cup. I'd assumed he was British, I mean how many Chilean's are called Gary!? We knew Chile were a decent footballing side but they have also been very organised & hardworking and Medel is typical of this approach. I was also enjoying Alexis Sanchez, who added a bit of flair up front to the team but it was Medel's performance against Brazil that really won me over. He ran himself into ground and until a thigh strain (picked up before the game) saw him leave the pitch on a stretcher, after 110 minutes of football, with tears rolling down his face.

4. Guillermo Ochoa (MEXICO) - There have been loads of good goalkeepers. Tim Howard's 116 saves against Belgium will live long in the memory. Raïs M'Bolhi of Algeria had a similar evening the night before against Germany. Of course Manuel Neuer of Germany was pretty impressive too, especially when he was allowed to play sweeper but it was Ochoa's performance for Mexico against Brazil that won the honours for me. He put in an amazing display, making saves he had no right to make, and was impressive in Mexico's other games keeping two clean sheets and only really being overcome by a dodgy penalty for Holland. The fact Mrs T5 had money on Mexico winning (at 300/1!) might have made me appreciate his efforts all the more.

5. Sofiane Feghouli (ALGERIA) Algeria weren't the most exciting side to watch but again proved you don't need to a have a team full of superstars to do well at the World Cup. Islam Slimani probably took most of the plaudits but Feghouli and his assortment of head bandages caught my eye and had me cheering for Algeria.

I can't ignore the Fulham connection. Technically there were four current Fulham players at the World Cup and three of them did pretty well. Bryan Ruiz captained Costa Rica who turned out to be one of the tournament's surprise packages winning Group D and being cruelly beaten on Penalties by the Dutch. Ruiz scored a couple of important goals and looked the sort of player Fulham fans knew he could be but rarely saw. Ashkan Dejagah was one of the star players in the Iranian team that also did well, drawing 0-0 with Nigeria and only losing to Argentina thanks to a very late goal by Lionel Messi. Cult hero Giorgios Karagounis also took over as captain for Greece (after previous Captain was sent off) and showed he is still capable of performing at the highest level, making me regret the fact we've let him go a little bit more. Meanwhile, on the same team, you might have missed the appearances of Fulham record signing Kosta Mitroglou. I think his record went; sub after an hour (did nothing) - started but injured after 35 minutes- missed game through injury - sub after an hour (hit bar, missed several, scored penalty). He didn't look very good but I still don't have much of a clue what he's really like. He cost Fulham over £12 Million.

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