Sport World Cup

Wednesday 24 January 2018

The best of the best from the World Cup

An offbeat look at World Cup highlights so far to help you get through painful two-day break

Chile's James Rodriguez volleys in his stunning first goal against Uruguay
Chile's James Rodriguez volleys in his stunning first goal against Uruguay

Michael McCarthy

What are we going to do without the World Cup for the next two days? We've had live football for 19 of the last 20 days and have been spoiled by the drama and quality on show. Now, there's only a week and a half left, and horribly, just eight more games.

In this unmerciful two-day break, the only thing to fill the time is celebrate the best of what this World Cup has served up.

Best manager – Miguel Herrera

This one's easy. The Mexico manager has made all our lives better in the last couple of weeks. His demonstrativeness on the sideline has made him the YouTube king of Brazil 2014. He's also not afraid to label Robben a cheat or declare a conspiracy against his team. His team were great too, only going out to two late Dutch goals on Sunday.

Best goalkeeper – Keylor Navas

This is a little tougher. Mexico's Guillermo Ochoa was so good, there was a ridiculous rumour he had six fingers on one hand. Rais M'Bolhi was man of the match in Algeria's extra-time defeat to Germany. But the award goes to Navas, who made himself Costa Rica's Packie Bonner, saving a penalty to send his team through to the quarter-finals for the first time.

Best goal – James Rodriguez

Tim Cahill's volley against the Netherlands, Robin Van Persie's diving header against Spain and James Rodriguez's chest and volley against Uruguay are the clear candidates. I'm going for James.

Best player – Arjen Robben

Rodriguez comes into the reckoning here too with his five goals in four games. Lionel Messi is also delivering, but it's hard to argue that the star player has been Robben. He may like a dive, but he's been the difference in each Dutch game so far.

Best pundit – Eamon Dunphy

While Brad Friedel has been the surprise of the tournament with his insight and wit on both the BBC and RTE, Eamon takes the award for the umpteenth World Cup in a row. From fighting with Kenny Cunningham and John Giles, to making up Argentinian defenders and taking a peculiarly harsh line on underdogs Colombia and Costa Rica, nothing gets us talking like Dunphy.

Best haircuts – Chile

The Chileans may have been dumped out on penalties to Brazil but they can take solace in knowing they've this award wrapped up already. Special mention to Arturo Vidal (left), whose style is outrageous, even in the company of outrageousness.


Best penalty – Charles Aranguiz

The Chile midfielder was so cramped up in extra-time of the second-round game with Brazil, he was barely able to walk, but still throwing in crucial last-ditch tackles. Continuing not to shirk responsibility, he put his name down for a penalty and proceeded to blast it right into the top corner with a minimal, three-step run-up.

Best celebration – John Brooks

While the Colombian pre-prepared dances are the obvious choice here, I have to go with Brooks, the American substitute defender who scored the winner against Ghana and collapsed in shock. I'm not sure why he was so surprised, though: he had dreamt the entire scenario a few nights before.

Irish Independent

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