...what happened to the fourth Champions League place the last time an English team won the thing. Plus, who would want to pay £60 to watch the current England team?
A Sunderland fan in the mailbox is surprised by Jack Colback's call up to the England squad. Plus, thoughts on Welbeck and Liverpool's Champions League draw...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
World Cup Final Thoughts
* What a finish to win the World Cup with. I would accept England or Arsenal losing in a game of this magnitude to a piece of skill like that.
* Germany are going to go through a Spain-esque era. When you look at the other European teams, only France and Netherlands look remotely close to competing. And it's not like their up and coming youth crop isn't going to prolong this further...
* Messi was not player of the tournament, but he did carry Argentina in terms of goals. I would have gone with maybe Hummels, Kroos, Robben, Mascherano or James Rodriguez. I'm going Rodriguez myself.
* Considering Ozil is so rubbish, he seemed to play a lot of games for Germany in a World Cup winning squad that rarely looked like slipping up. Ozil doesn't ever look like doing much, but he must be doing something, somewhere. Interesting to see whether a fit Reus/Gotze will replace him over the coming years.
* To beat Klose, Muller needs six more World Cup goals from a probable two more tournaments (providing he is playing at 32). Seems quite likely...
* USA could soon have a more successful competition squad than our own. Let that sink in for a bit...
...As a 31-year-old football nut, this has definitely been the best World Cup of my life time. Here are a few of my humble opinions on the final.
* I'm sure they'll be a few people calling the final a disappointment but they need not look further than Argentina to blame for this. They are a team that play with no freedom or drive. Perhaps this is an over-dependency on Messi but I think the manager needs to take a huge chunk of the blame. We have seen in this competition that a team doesn't have to have a Messi or Robben to play positive football (Mexico and Chile come to mind). It's a shame the Netherlands didn't make it through to the final as I think a final with them against Germany would have been a real cracker. Still thought the final was absorbing though.
* Germany are a truly lovely team to watch. If I was to introduce a person to the game who had never seen it before or know what it's about, Germany would be the team I'd use to introduce them to the sport. The passing is precise and there is a supreme confidence and focus in how play. This team plays with a youthfulness I find exhilarating. I mean, just look at Neuer playing as a sweeper keeper. Who does that? Germany plays its own game and lets the opposition worry about dealing with them rather than switching their whole style just to adjust to an opponent. It's footballing bravery in my books.
* Messi will never be seen as the greatest until he has an all-action knockout game in the WC. Personally I don't think he necessarily has to win it but he has to grab a huge game by the scruff of its neck and drive his team through. He scored important goals in the group stages but against quite weak opposition. Looking back at what Maradona did for Argentina means he will always be in his shadow in the eyes of the world and even more so in the eyes of his countrymen. A mailboxer wrote in last week saying he wasn't down with grown players crying over losing a game but I have absolutely no problem with it as I feel the emotion is genuine at that moment (especially in the WC). Seeing Messi just have an aloof look on his face after the game just gives the air of a player who doesn't seem that bothered. When Maradona was considered the best player walking the earth, he still broke down in tears when he couldn't help his national side lift the title. It's possible that this is the type of thing Argentineans are looking at when they don't give Messi the love the rest of us think is crazy not to. Him winning the best player of the competition is what we call a joke ting where I'm from by the way. Robben, James Rodriguez, and Valbuena probably have one eyebrow arched at this decision.
* Am I the only one who has a problem with players bringing their WAGS and kids onto the pitch after they win a cup? Call me a miserable pr*ck but listen Mr. Footballer, I really don't give a sh*t about your partner or kids same way you don't about mine or about my club when you move to a rival one. You have just shed sweat, blood and tears to win a major trophy. It should be all about you and the football team. Your wife didn't kick a ball so giving the cameraman an excuse to show us 'eye candy' instead of letting us the viewer bask in the moment with you is not on. I want to see the joy in YOUR face and you and your teammates celebrating together, not mini-me or trophy wife.
* Ending on a happy note, Gotze's goal is how you bring such a huge event to a close. Such composure from a 22-year-old. Brilliant.
Seyi (the withdrawal symptoms are gonna be crazy this week) LFC
It's So Sodding Obvious How They Did It
As an English football fan, could it be any worse that watching Germany win the World Cup? Especially after it is obvious how they have done it?
F365 are right to focus on Euro 2000 as the great awakening of German football to their decline as a power. What is more frustrating is the signs were there for England at that tournament. The England vs Germany game at Euro 2000 was the single worst display of turgid, laborious and utterly depressing football I have ever seen. The Germans woke up and built a footballing power that began competing within six years and won the World Cup in 14.
England did nothing.
The fact is, Germany have quotas on hom grown players, rules on club ownership that favour long-term stability over short-term success (I know, as a Chelsea fan how hypocritical that is but it is the truth), cheap tickets that engage the population in football directly, rather than via plasma screens and awful pundits, great stadiums.
How many members of the German squad play at their top sides (and if they don't, the top ten sides in Europe?). How many England players do or would would honestly get into the first teams of the top four (six? Seven possibly?)
Greg Dyke can have all the commissions he wants. Things need to change and fast.
At least Argentina didn't win.
(It almost makes me pine for the days when the French won everything...almost)
I wrote an email in last week about how we shouldn't be looking to copy other nation's style. I've changed my mind. The Germans - we should definitely copy them.
Jonny, (see that bandwagon? That's me on top), Hartlepool
Blame The Keeper
Neuer would have saved the Germany goal.
Have you ever seen a keeper come out for a one on one and jump out of the way of the ball with his hands by his side? After watching the keeper at the opposite end perform minor heroics with his Schmeichel style, it's strange Romero did the exact opposite.
Goetze And Glory
I was wondering what all the fuss was about Mario Goetze....now I know.
Well done, Germany.
What An Anti-Climax
After seeing my beloved Portugal dumped out of the World Cup due to the three lackluster and careless performances during the group stages, I couldn't help but hope for the beautiful game to provide a reason for me to invest all my attention into the remainder of the tournament (not that I wouldn't have watched the games, but for me to be emotionally and passionately invested in the greatest sporting event in the world). Despite being more concerned about Manchester United's summer transfer window (could't bare the thought of repetition of last year's horrors) the World Cup had lived up to its billing by providing quite possibly the most entertaining group stages of recent history.
Reigning World Champions Spain crashed out at the hands of a ruthless and humbling display but the Dutch and Chile. While Luis Suarez sent England packing only days before he bit Italian centre-back Chiellini. In the same group Italy had joined England on the way back to Europe as outsiders Costa Rica topped the group of death. Between the the dismantling of Spain and the surprise survivors of each group, the World Cup HAD my attention. Not to mention the absolute goal-fest of a group stage we were blessed with.
However all that changed all too soon. Every match of the Round of 16 excluding Columbia's victory over Uruguay, had seen the victors win by a single goal. A part from an inspiring James Rodriguez brace against uruguay and a fairly decent end to end battle between USA and Belgium, the round of 16 was as dull as they come. P.S Brazil should have been out at this point (would have saved them embarrassment.) Algeria also impressed, however Germany are Germany for a reason and came out on top despite a worrying performance. The quarter-finals followed in similar fashion, a lack of free-flowing, entertaining football and extreme caution saw Germany, Holland (thanks to Louis Van Gaal's unorthodox antics), Argentina, no thanks to Golden Ball winer Messi (I'll get onto him) and Brazil, who once again slithered past their opposition. After watching every one of the knock-out stage games, I had finally been gifted with the game I had been craving from the start. A Semi-Final demolition at the hands of Germany saw Brazil humiliated on their home soil after being smashed 7-1 by the European giants. Finally the open game I wanted. This was a perfect example of how relying on your home crowd and passion was the major downfall of Brazil's campaign. They were taken to their limit by Chile, couldn't break through Mexico, benefited from some doggy decisions in their opener and had finally suffered a reality check. To add salt to the wounds of the hosts, rivals Argentina had beaten Holland in quite possibly the worst game of football I had ever watched while simultaneously summing up the Knock-out stages of the tournament.
Germany overcame the Argentines in the final thanks to a extra-time goal by Mario Goetze, all in all a major anti-climax from what I had thought was an unbelievable opening to the tournament had continued to decline into cautious, boring and tactical displays that saw the Germans come out on top and me still concerned with United's transfer business (Shaw and Herrera simply add depth not quality.) And as far as Lionel Messi is concerned, scoring against Bosnia, Nigeria and Iran while not being able to strike or for that matter even test any of the teams he encountered in the knock-out stages leaves me baffled as to why he has ended up with the Golden Ball. Muller, James.R were truly viable candidates for the award as the former having five goals and three assists and the latter having six goals and two assists in comparison to the Argentine's four goals and one assist.
At the end of the day football is a sport and not an art form/entertainment, but the spectacle that is the World Cup had all the potential to be one of the most entertaining sporting events in recent history but died a sudden death thanks to the efficient and tactical football that is more effective, however is extremely dull.
H Mattar (United and Portugal fan)
Keeping Players On The Pitch...
What a tense final that was. Great opportunities missed by both teams, great goal to decide it.
But in the second half of extra time and Schweinsteiger gets taken out multiple times, none a booking. Two that should've been were Mascherano and Aguero (who could've been sent off). While I can understand the ref might not have seen Mascherano's tackle clearly, Aguero should've gotten a card.
But we hear from the commentators that the ref was trying to keep people on the pitch. Why? That's not his job, nor should the ref be blamed for ruining a game due to sending someone off. If the ref made a cock up then okay, he is to blame, otherwise it's the fault of whoever made the challenge(s) for possibly ruining the game.
I want to see the ref apply the rules of the game fairly, not let players off with dangerous play so as not to send them off. Schweinsteiger was targeted in tonight's game but the ref did nothing. It felt disappointing as I felt the ref had a great game otherwise.
Schweinsteiger was immense and showed how to react when targeted (don't retaliate) and I thought Messi should've put it into the box at the end. Beating Neuer from that distance? He was praying for a miracle.
No more football (for a little while)...we were spoiled by what was an excellent tournament.
Imagine this situation. Portugal are playing in the World Cup final. They are 1-0 down in the last minute of extra-time when they win a free kick 30-35 yards out from the opposition goal. Up steps Cristiano Ronaldo. Instead of bringing the keeper forward and delivering a ball into the box for his teammates to attack, Ronaldo blasts it hopelessly over the bar in pursuit of personal glory. Now imagine how much he would have been slated for such a ludicrous and unsuccessful display of egotism. Isn't it somewhat strange then that Lionel Messi is never subjected to the same sort of criticism?
Messi is undoubtedly one of the greatest players of all time. However, he is also frequently guilty of an inflated sense of his own importance. One only needs to look at the litany of top players (Ibrahimovic, Sanchez, Fabregas etc) who have been discarded by Barcelona over the last few years as they didn't fit in with the idea of everything going through Messi. In last night's final he was peripheral at best but when Argentina's final chance came, it wasn't about the team, it had to be all about Messi. Maybe such a level of arrogance is requisite for the truly great players. It certainly wasn't useful last night though. By contrast Germany don't have one star player, elevated to a station way above that of his team mates. Germany have a team. Germany won.
Peter Beswick, Manc in Malaysia
As he was called up to claim his (ill-deserved, but hardly larcenous) Golden Ball award, and stood there with the expression of a man that had just trodden bare-foot in catsh*t, I couldn't help but feel sorry for Leo Messi. He is destined to be haunted by the modern-day obsession with the impossible task of ranking greatness. Until he retires, he'll be the prodigal son and the bitter disappointment.
Messi is subject to a unique set of criteria when his greatness is gauged. We're told he has to win the World Cup - a feat that Cruyff and Eusebio never managed, a competition di Stefano never even appeared in, and not something you hear people ask of Cristiano Ronaldo - while his success in Champions Leagues - arguably a higher-quality competition, and one that Maradona or Pele never won - is downplayed.
While I don't think it's a conscious thing, the reason pundits throw up extra hoops for him to jump through is so they can avoid having to make a definitive call when it's totally impossible to do so. It's basically futile choosing between him and Ronaldo, let alone comparing him to players who played in totally different eras. But yet the need to mark definitive superlatives means it's a story that will never go away.
Individuals don't win World Cups, teams do, as Germany showed. Expecting or demanding Messi to change that is a surefire way to belittling a truly great - and I mean one of the all-time great - career. We should be grateful we've got him.
...The words of Alan Hansen are still fresh in my ears, boiling my blood enough to write in - Pele's done it, he says, Maradona's done it. Messi hasn't.
Combined Champions League trophies for the first two, Alan? League titles in the stellar leagues of the world? One, just about. I think this entire debate is framed wrongly, at least by him - it's not a question of them being the greatest players of all time, but of their respective ages. And in those ages, the way it seems to me is that international football was indisputably king - and thus, winning the World Cup the gold-standard for players. Wasn't the reason Pele was happy to stay in the tough but not that tough club environs of Brazilian club football because he knew he'd achieved what counted? But could anyone argue that after about 1998, the World Cup is what it's all about? Of course, it's the World Cup, it still exists in glorious isolation, but it seems to me like in Messi's age club football through the Champions League has risen to if not equal billing, then at least a sufficiently high point that you can't claim he isn't quite there simply because of that space in his trophy cabinet. He's scored in all the Champions League finals he's started in, and broken plenty of its records along the way to doing so. And for this age, that's enough.
Missing Di Maria
They key stat of the World Cup is that after Di Maria got injured in the quarter-final they didn't score a goal.
Well done Germany. A great model for intelligent and consistent performance over the last four world cups.
Alonso, Kroos and Modric in midfield - stop it...it's just naughty.
Post-World Cup Blues
Errr...so what are we supposed to do now?
John Matrix, AFC
Right, now that the World Cup is done and dusted, can we finally get down to the most important event of the summer? It's time for the Transfer Blog!