Scheduling ultimately cost Italy
Cesare Prandelli fell on his sword following Italy’s elimination from the World Cup. While a rather honourable thing to do, it must be said that his Italian side – unlike their English counterparts – have been rather unlucky. They have played almost all their games in stifling heat. Manuas, Recife and then Natal. Brutal heat. But they had dealt well with the heat in their final game – and if Luis Suarez had been sent off after he appeared to bite Giorgio Chiellini then surely Italy would have held out to secure the draw they required to progress.
The future is not too bright for England
Roy Hodgson used England’s dead rubber against Costa Rica to blood some of the fringe/young members of the squad alongside Ben Foster and Frank Lampard, but England still lacked any sort of cutting edge in a 0- draw. It was against another laboured 28th best side in the world. To give that ranking a little context, they sit a place behind Scotland in FIFA’s rankings. To look at the side on paper, it represented one of verve and vigour. Surely, the buck must stop at the manager – England were disappointing in a relatively easy group that included Ukraine, Montenegro and Poland and things have got considerably worse in Brazil. At some point, Hodgson needs to be accountable.
Once Radamel Falcao was ruled out of the Colombia squad, the enthusiasm that had previously surrounded their status as World Cup “dark horses” began to wane. However, their performances in Group C cannot have failed to impress. In James Rodriguez they have a player of immense talent – as evidenced by his goal in the 4-1 win against Japan – in a side built on solid foundations. This Colombia side could go very, very far. They could win the whole thing.
Uruguay may be through, but that’s their lot
So, Uruguay managed to get past Italy to make the knockout stages, but they will likely be without Luis Saurez after it appeared as though he bit Giorgio Chiellini. Excuse the pun, but when Uruguay were without Suarez earlier in the tournament – a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Costa Rica – they looked utterly toothless. Without him they are a different side and will struggle. Not that a lot of people will be sorry to see them go.
Suarez really likes upstaging England
After he almost single-handedly helped Uruguay dump England out of the World Cup, Suarez proclaimed: "I dreamt this. I’m enjoying this moment, because of all I suffered, the criticism I received. So, there you go. This is a very good time for me. I want to see what they think now." Under normal circumstances, England’s limp 0-0 draw with Costa Rica would have been prominent on the front and back pages of the national papers. However, his bite ensures that that will not happen. His ‘bite’ could, in fact, become the iconic image of this World Cup. It was also a farewell bite because he won't play again at these finals.
Georgios Samaras chose the perfect moment to end his two-year wait for a Greece goal
You have to go back to his country's 4-2 loss to Germany in the last eight of Euro 2012 to discover when the outgoing Celtic forward last scored a goal for his country. With that in mind, his late, late penalty winner with the last kick of the match in a 2-1 success against Ivory Coast in Group C was something to behold. He picked himself up after being felled by Ivory Coast substitute Giovanni Sio to send Greece into the last 16 for the first time, and a match with Group D winners Costa Rica that Greece will fancy. In times of financial crisis, it was welcome. “We are really proud of ourselves. This means so much to me, to us," said Samaras. We really hope we can make the people happy back home. We are a team. A team... that’s it.”
Lampard becomes first man to earn World Cup testimonial
Frank Lampard earned his 100th England cap in a World Cup qualifier against Ukraine last September, but he perhaps became the first man to enjoy a testimonial during a World Cup match. Trotted out four days after he turned 36 and with England already eliminated from the tournament, the 0-0 draw with Costa Rica comes as close as you can imagine to a meaningless contest. It was a good day to bury bad news with Luis Suarez hogging the headlines. England could slink away from the scene under the radar, but apart from Lampard collecting a 106th cap, there was nothing great to recall from this match. Whether or not Lampard decides to continue, these finals have been a shambles for England. They finish bottom of Group D with a solitary point. Poor, poor returns.
- Sports & Recreation
- Luis Suarez
- Costa Rica
- Frank Lampard
- Giorgio Chiellini