This year’s FIFA World Cup was rather disappointing for fans supporting mainstream teams such as Spain, Germany, Argentina and Portugal. All of them had to take the flight home, much before teams of this calibre were expected to.
The fault mostly lies in over-confidence shown by most of the teams. In regard to this World Cup, popular teams such as Netherlands and Italy did not qualify probably making the teams over-confident about facing less popular teams. Even in the group stages, we saw Argentina not being able to play their game against Iceland and Croatia. Spain was also given a huge surprise by Morocco’s determination to at least win a point in the last game. Portugal also took Iran lightly and ended up being unable to win the game with Ronaldo missing out on a penalty.
Another aspect to notice is most of the teams fared badly in their finishing. While all these teams created great chances to score, their finishing was pretty sub-standard. In the last match against South Korea, Germany had more than 70 percent possession of the ball and had numerous chances to score. However, poor finishing undid their attacks. Spain also had numerous chances to score against Russia, however, they were beaten by the Russian defenders.
Germany and Spain also felt the losses of their star strikers such as Miroslav Klose and David Villa. The finishing in their game was just not the same without them. In the midfield, Bastian Schweinsteiger was also missed by Germany. Even players like Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez weren’t able to make a difference as the midfield weren’t able to create enough chances for the strikers.
The teams were also too dependent on their star players. If we look at Spain’s game, we can see that they were highly dependent on Iniesta, who is their star player, to create chances. Portugal and Argentina were highly dependent on Ronaldo and Messi respectively. However, one man cannot win a game consisting of 22 players on the field.
Defence was another area where the teams were outdone. Spain from the very start has had a slow style of playing. They would pass a lot and keep possession and attack when they felt it was right. However, this slow-style had the disadvantage that the other team could easily get a chance for goal, if there was even one tiny mistake or a bad pass. Spain often tackled this issue with a strong defence especially from the likes of Ramos, Pique and Puyol. If the defence failed there was often Casillas to have solid a goalkeeping stance and position to stop the ball from going into the net. However, with Puyol and Casillas’ retirement, Spain has had a huge problem at the back. David de Gea who is usually a good goalkeeper, also had questionable positioning throughout the World Cup.
Germany is another team which failed miserably in their natural game. Often an attacking team with a strong defence, this time around there was neither. The defence was poor and the counter-attacking football Germany employs which allows for them to go from defence to attack in a blink of an eye failed miserably.
Portugal too, was highly dependent on Pepe at the back. However, it is hardly fair to expect one man to defend strong attacks from opponents. Argentina also did not see good form from the likes of Mascherano at the back.
Probably the biggest flaw was that the teams weren’t playing as a team. There was a lot of uneasiness in passes and unpredictability in movement. We could hardly see solid passes especially within the penalty box. The players also seemed very unfamiliar with the ball as they seemed to have a lack of practice with the Telstar. Most of the shots were way off target making even chances that were created to go to waste.
In the end, there is no point blaming Messi, Ronaldo or Iniesta as the entire team was at fault for its poor performance. For star players to perform, they need their team to back them up. This exact support was seen more in teams such as Russia and Croatia who are doing well in the World Cup. We can only hope that these teams learn from their mistake and come to the next World Cup stronger and better.