Wednesday 22 November 2017

World Cup flops - Team of the Tournament

Steven Gerrard reacts after England conceded a second goal against Uruguay
Steven Gerrard reacts after England conceded a second goal against Uruguay

The 2014 World Cup is being touted as one of the best in recent years, but a number of players will not lock back fondly on the tournament in Brazil.

Here is our World Cup flops XI, which we have set-up in a 4-4-2 formation.

Let us know what you think of the team of under-performing stars.

Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas

156 international caps is an incredible achievement, but his last two, perhaps his final appearances in a Spanish jersey, will haunt the Real Madrid stopper. Conceding seven goals and appearing nervy throughout, it was the type of form that justified his recent exclusion at club level.

One of the most talented goalkeepers of the modern era, it may have been one tournament too far for the 33 year-old.

Defender: Pepe

Losing 2-0 to Germany in their opening World Cup match, Portugal required cool heads to retrieve the situation. Unfortunately for the Iberians, that is simply not part of Pepe’s DNA as he was red-carded for losing the head against Thomas Mueller, before the 10 men eventually lost 4-0.

Pepe of Portugal fouls Thomas Mueller of Germany during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group G match between Germany and Portugal

A player who thrives playing on the edge, he once again overstepped the mark as Portugal made an early exit.

Defender: Gerard Pique

The 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the Netherlands was always going to have repercussions for members of Vicente del Bosque’s team and Pique was one of the fall guys.

The Barcelona man struggled badly alongside Sergio Ramos, with poor positioning and flat-footed defending marring the loss.

It was to be his final action in Brazil, failing to play any part in the subsequent games against Chile and Australia and did little to dispel the notions that the former United defender has been lucky to have played in sides spend little time on the back foot.

Leighton Baines

After the furore of Ashley Cole’s World Cup omission, all eyes were on the Everton man and while he cannot be held responsible for the meek performances against Italy and Uruguay, the Toffees defender didn’t exactly cover himself in glory.

Will have nightmares over Antonio Candreva after the Lazio player gave him a torrid time during the opening group game and struggled like many of his team-mates against Luis Suarez and company.

Luke Shaw will be lining up for the left-back jersey.

Defender: Dani Alves

The Barcelona full-back is not best known for his defensive duties and Phil Scolari feared for his Brazilian rearguard against Colombia which resulted in Alves dropping out of the team in favour of Maicon.

Dani Alves began his journey to fame with Esporte Clube Bahia's youth team

In a defence that has looked vulnerable, Alves tendency to ignore some of his defensive duties made him an easy target.

Whether Maicon offers more solidity is highly questionable.

Midfield: Eden Hazard

Aside from the dramatic game with the USA, Belgium’s so-called ‘golden generation’ flattered to deceive and limped out meekly at the hands of Argentina, with star man Eden Hazard failing to live up to his pre-tournament billing.

With no goals or assists and, he was honest in his personal assessment after his substitution against the South Americans.

“I think I could have done better,” he offered.

Midfield: Steven Gerrard

Yes the England midfield was overrun and yes the Liverpool man is perhaps not utilised as well as he could be in an England jersey, but Gerrard once again failed to leave his mark on a major tournament.

An inability to retain possession is an obvious weakness of the team and for all Gerrard’s undoubted qualities, he lacks the ability to control a game from the middle of the park.

Largely anonymous against Uruguay except for one foray into the box that could have resulted in a penalty, he was subdued against Uruguay and played a role in both of Suarez’s goals.

Midfield: Xavi

It would be a cruel injustice if Xavi’s decorated international career should end in the doldrums of Brazil.

After 133 caps, two European titles and a World Cup – Xavi was named in the team of the tournament during those three successes – he was dropped after the Dutch humbling and played no further part in the competition.

Spain's Xavi Hernandez controls the ball during their Euro 2012 quarter-final soccer match against France at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk, June 23, 2012. REUTERS/Yves Herman (UKRAINE - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Yet to confirm whether he will hang up his boots for Spain, it was a dismal World Cup for a player so used to success in recent years.

Midfield: Alex Song

Bonus payments, match-fixing allegations and a shambolic showing dominated Cameroon's World Cup, with Alex Song's ridiculous red card against Croatia putting the icing on th cake.

The Barcelona player should have been a leading light in the team, but was one of many Cameroon players that appeared totally disinterested in Brazil.

Forward: Diego Costa

After the hullabaloo over which country he would declare for, Brazilian fans may not be overly disappointed with Costa’s decision to choose Spain, even allowing for their alarming lack of options up front.

Booed incessantly by the locals, his only contribution was a theatrical fall to earn a penalty against the Netherlands, which was as good as it got for player and country.

Chelsea supporters will hope he lights up the Premier League in the same manner as La Liga last season, but will not hold happy memories of the 2014 World Cup.

Forward: Fred

The joint-top scorer from the Confederations Cup last summer has an impressive international record – 18 goals in 38 games – but has been a figure of ridicule for the hosts.


The Fluminense forward got off the mark in the 4-1 rout of Cameroon, but has become a symbol of the so-called decline in quality within the Selecao with some ineffective displays.

He may yet end up a World Cup winner, but it is worth remembering that Djimi Traore has a Champions League medal in his collection.


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