F365's Top Ten World Cup Disappointments

The World Cup has been sodding brilliant so far, but grumpy Daniel Storey has still managed to pick out ten disappointments. Ronaldo, Spain and some woeful punditry...

Last Updated: 24/06/14 at 10:37 Post Comment

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10. Hulk and Fred
To be selected up front for Brazil is a dream for almost every single Brazilian, the Selecao shirt a mystical and magical entity that has been bestowed upon some of the greatest footballers that have ever lived.

With that in mind, watching Hulk and Fred stumble their way through the competition has grated against our typical expectations of the Brazilian forward. While Neymar lights up the tournament, these two seem to act as a control experiment to remind us just how bad it could be.

9. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Such was the phenomenal emotional reaction from the Bosnian players and public when they qualified for their first-ever tournament as a nation, it felt as if they would look to grasp their opportunity with both hands - this was the scripted good news story.

Those expectations only grew once the draw had been made for the group stage. Argentina were the clear favourites but, in Iran and Nigeria, Safet Susic's side had opposition with sufficient weaknesses for realistic hopes of progression to be harboured.

Instead, Susic's side have been the dampest of squibs, eliminated even before their final game against Iran, with Edin Dzeko (backed into 33/1 in places to be top scorer) regressing back into his seemingly disinterested state. A tournament that promised so much has delivered astonishingly little of positive note.

8. Asian Sides

It was always likely to be tough for the four countries that qualified from the Asian Football Confederation, but things have still been pretty grim indeed. Australia, Japan, South Korea and Iran have failed to win one of their eight combined matches, losing five.

While the Socceroos (Tim Cahill in particular) and Iran have at least been spirited in defeat against Argentina, Chile and Netherlands, the under-performance of Japan and South Korea has been particularly disappointing. The positivity of 2002 has well and truly drained away.

7. Belgium's Pragmatism

The widespread love for Belgium's footballing rise in the build-up to Brazil was enough to keep a Kleenex factory in profit, but they have instead rather stunk the place out despite consecutive victories ensuring their place in the knockout stage.

Whilst Belgians will undoubtedly prefer the result over the means, the rest of us were moist in anticipation at Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and the like bringing an element of glamour to an otherwise uninspiring Group H.

A lacklustre comeback victory over Algeria was followed by a rotten 1-0 win over Russia that rivalled Iran v Nigeria to be considered the poorest match of the tournament. Quietly efficient or over-estimated? The next week should provide the answer.

6. Cristiano Ronaldo

After Ronaldo's performances against Sweden in the World Cup play-off saw him crowned winner of the Ballon D'Or, there was an anticipation that the forward could haul an otherwise weak squad into the quarter-finals, showcasing his talent on the greatest stage of all.

It has not proved thus. A mixture of shambolic defending and ill-discipline has seen Portugal all but crash out at the first hurdle, whilst rumours of tendonitis in the knee have dogged Ronaldo's tournament.

"Maybe we're an average team," Ronaldo told reporters after the 2-2 draw with USA. "It would be a lie to say that we are a 'top' team. We have a very limited team and we are not at the best level. This does not enable you to beat top teams." We'd still like a goal against Ghana to remember you by.

5. Lack Of Joga Bonito

There is little doubt that the last 10 days have been a simply glorious spectacle, but a World Cup always feels more vibrant when the hosts are performing well. Whilst Luiz Felipe Scolari's side won their group, we are yet to see the Selecao in style mode.

Neymar is the obvious exception, but the likes of Paulinho, Luis Gustavo and Ramires simply make for a functional, rather than flamboyant, approach, backed up by uninspiring displays against Croatia and Mexico. The victory over a poor Cameroon side was a vast improvement, but there is a worry that Scolari's side may come unstuck against the first high-quality opponent. It's just not like watching Brazil.

4. Argentina's Goal Machine

With a forward line of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Rodrigo Palacio (87 league goals last season) drawn against Iran, Bosnia and Nigeria (not one ranked in world's top 20), the prediction was that Alejandro Sabella's side would treat us to an exhibition of attacking football.

Like much about this World Cup, we were mistaken. An own goal against Bosnia and two wonderful finishes from Messi are the only spoils thus far, with a scraped 1-0 win over Iran doing little to heighten expectation of a Maracana victory come July 13. Perhaps that's the idea.

3. Punditry

The World Cup is not just the stage on which good players can become great, it also separates the men from the boys (with only Gabby Logan to alter such a male-dominated phrase) in the studio and commentary box.

It hasn't been all bad. Danny Murphy seems to have cheated slightly by doing some actual research on the teams, whilst the likes of Thierry Henry and Clarence Seedorf speak more eloquently than any of their British colleagues.

But then there is the list of shame: Robbie Savage, Martin Keown, Ian Wright, Alan Shearer and Mark Lawrenson, a man who manages to make watching the greatest international tournament I can remember sound like he is forcing cocktail sticks into his member. Must do better, chaps.

2. England's Senior Players

As I wrote here after the defeat against Uruguay, England's young players can still take plenty from this tournament. Ross Barkley got vital minutes in both the opening matches and starts against Costa Rica, while Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling took their understanding from club level onto the World Cup stage, at least for periods of both matches.

However, it is England's senior players that let themselves down. The exuberance of youth can be incredibly effective, but it relies on the guidance of those that have previously experienced such tension and pressure.

It was here that England failed. Not all of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill have had disastrous tournaments, but these are the individuals that should have been leading the improvement. Instead, the younger faces were forced to plough their own furrow.

1. Spain's Title Defence

The reigning European and world champions were placed in the toughest of groups alongside Netherlands and Chile, but the logical discussion appeared to be whether Vicente del Bosque's team would qualify as winners or as runners up. That Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo, Isco, Fernando Llorente and Daniel Carvajal all failed to make the grade only added to the aura of invincibility surrounding a squad that had added Diego Costa to its striking ranks.

For 44 minutes all was well, with Xabi Alonso's penalty giving them a 1-0 lead over Netherlands. What then followed was seven unanswered goals conceded at a rate quicker than one every 20 minutes, as a nation lost its crown in the most startling fashion.

Daniel Storey - Follow him on Twitter

@bobsy, ronaldo ronaldinho rivaldo pragmatic damn you are hard to please some of the best football ive seen. England getting knocked out was pretty much expected , spain getting battered was one of best things i have seen loved every minute of it .
- sterry

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