Biggest World Cup 2014 Flops XI!
With the World Cup entering the final stage today, we look back at who we think have been the worst flops at the tournament so far.
Iker Casillas (Spain)
In a tournament dominated by goalkeeping excellence, it’s slightly poignant that one of the most consistently excellent proponents of the art in recent years has had a finals to forget. Casillas carried his poor Real Madrid form into the tournament and it would be sad if a glorious career were defined by his error-strewn performances against Holland and Chile.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Cameroon)
The Spurs defender has often stated that he has no interest in football and he proved it at this tournament. He endured a wretched tournament, topping off three group stage defeats with a head-butt on team-mate Benjamin Moukandjo.
It could be argued that Portugal’s tournament ended during their opening match against Germany when Pepe needlessly head-butted Thomas Muller to receive his marching orders. The Real Madrid defender only played for two hours in Brazil but his dismissal ended any contest with the Germans and his exclusion through suspension for their next match against USA was also detrimental to their chances of progression.
Gerard Pique (Spain)
While his missus may have provided the theme song for the tournament, Pique was completely out of tune at the heart of the Spanish defence. His pitiful display against the Netherland led to him being dropped by a normally loyal Vicente Del Bosque and wasn’t seen again at the finals. However, his one dreadful display made Spanish fans yearn for the likes of Carlos Puyol in their defence.
Antonio Valencia (Ecuador)
While Antonio Valencia’s form at the World Cup won’t come as a surprise to Manchester United fans, prior to the tournament he was Ecuador’s star man. He was overshadowed by his namesake Enner and capped a miserable group stage with a red card against France. The only surprise is that he has been handed a new contract at Old Trafford.
Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)
Possibly the most consistently excellent Premier League performer in recent seasons, Toure followed up his recent birthday blues with a tournament to forget. There are mitigating circumstances for his below-par displays however, with his younger brother passing away on the day of the Ivory Coast’s defeat to Greece.
Toure was a shadow of the player he is at Manchester City with his bursting runs and set piece prowess noticeably absent in Brazil.
Steven Gerrard (England)
After an anonymous performance in their opening match against Italy, England’s captain followed it up with an even worse display against Uruguay. He was at fault for both Luis Suarez goals and it seems peculiar that Roy Hodgson is going to some lengths to persuade the Liverpool midfielder to prolong his international career in light of his form in Brazil.
Alex Song (Cameroon)
If it weren’t for Shakira’s dreadful “La La La” dirge, Cameroonian midfielder Alex would be a shoo-in for worst Song at this tournament. The former Gunner was probably the worst offender in what many believe to have been the poorest team at these finals.
In a tournament dominated by rows over (as it turned out, unnecessary) win bonuses and match-fixing claims, Song’s dismissal against Croatia encapsulated the African side’s tournament.
Eden Hazard (Belgium)
While this so-called “golden generation” of Belgians probably found their level at the Quarter-Final stage, they didn’t exactly light up the tournament as many had predicted.
A huge factor in this was Hazard’s lack-lustre displays for the Red Devils. The Chelsea playmaker failed to score at the tournament, and while he did provide two assists, his finals were underwhelming considering his Premier League form in the last two seasons.
A number of England World Cup Winners medals from 1966 have sold over the years at auction for considerable amounts to members of the public. Brazilian striker, Fred, might just become the latest person to get his hands on a gold medal without even touching a ball. Granted he did score against Cameroon but his all-round performances and languid style has drawn criticism from Brazilian fans and media alike.
Diego Costa (Spain)
Have Chelsea got another multi-million pound striking flop on their hands? Costa’s form for Atletico Madrid has been impressive over the last couple of seasons but his strike rate at a series of smaller Spanish clubs prior to that was meager. He looked out of place in the Spanish side and finished the tournament without a shot on target.