Thursday, 26 June 2014


The talk leading up to Germany's opening World Cup match against Portugal was around how Cristiano Ronaldo would play against the Germans and if he could carry his team past them. The talk after the 4-0 beating Germany handed Portugal is that Thomas Muller is the man to watch this summer in Brazil, and he proved this again in Gemany's win over the United States. 

Muller entered the race for the prestigious award after his hattrick against Portugal. He now currently sits on four goals, along with Lionel messi and Neymar. He scored his fourth of the tournament and ninth all time World Cup goal after a Germany corner in which Tim Howard saved a header which rebiunded to the feet of Muller. Muller powered the shot past Howard into the bottom corner with authority, the shot screaming confidence as it sailed through the air.

Muller won the Golden Boot in his first World Cup in 2010 when the event was hosted by South Africa. The Bayern Munich forward scored five goals in six appearances four years ago as Germany made it to the semi-finals only to be knocked out by tournament winners Spain. The young German side managed to finish third after beating Uruguay where Muller scored the first goal with his last goal of the tournament. The German team Muller plays a part of now are mostly older faces of the team that played then, and look to this World Cup as a success only if they fly home with the trophy.

Muller's role to Joachim Lowe's squad is to be the clinical forward they need, to be the man that can win the match himself. The only true striker in the German squad is veteran Miroslav Klose. Although Germany's all time top goal scorer, the 36 year old Lazio striker is now far from his prime and they need someone who can carry them through matches and score the goals. That man is Muller, as he is a proven poacher in front of goal. He started his career off as a striker, but has since been moved to the right wing. He still carries his striker attributes with him though, as he is able to score a header, and shoot powerfulyl with either foot.   but in Muller, Joachim Low has a clinical forward that can take Germany to the end.

Muller's play style is perhaps the most unorthadox and scrappy style in all of football. He isn't an angel on the ball like his German compatriots Mesut Ozil and Mario Gotze. He doesn't take defenders on one on one. He doesn't score the most beautiful goals. What he does is underrated. To most it will look he is just lucky, and in the right place at the right time, like his second and third goals against Portugal and his opener against the United States. What he does is play as a satellite. He enters open space and orbits the defence, and anticipates. This style is one of a kind and one that defenders can't do their job against. 

Muller can inspire Germany to the final. Playing around creative midfielders such as Bayern Munich teammates Mario Gotze and Toni Kroos, as well as Arsenal maestro Mesut Ozil, Muller should have a prolific campaign. Having won everything in Germany, he now has a great chance to win something for Germany.

Nigeria vs Argentina report

Argentina beat Nigeria 3-2 to win their last group game of the World Cup. Messi earned himself a brace while Marcos Rojo scored also for Argentina, and Ahmed Musa also scored a brace.

Messi scored the opener when Angel Di Maria's shot deflected off the post in the early minutes to the Barcelona forward. Messi dispatched the ball high into the net to give the Argentines an early lead.

Nigeria though didn't want to lay down as they scored the equaliser a minute later through Ahmed Musa.

Argentina were enjoying the shots in the first half as Gonzalo Higuain missed after being played in by Messi. Di Maria also tested Nigerian keeper Enyeama with a 25 yard shot.

Messi scored his and his country's second in the dying minutes of the first half through a sublime free kick that that left Enyeama stranded.

The score at the break was 2-1 to the South Americans, with Nigeria needing unfavourable results elsewhere to deny them to the round of sixteen.

Almost immediately after the break Musa claimed his second as he found space in the oppositions defence and slotted past Romero after Emmanuel Emenike played him in.

Argentina though restored the lead moments later as Marcos Rojo scored off Ezequiel Lavezzi's corner, shifting momentum yet again.

Argentina then took control of most of the creativity and even after Messi's withdrawal they created chances, but poor finishing kept the scoreline at 3-2.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


Just as a prince inherits the king's throne, Marco Verratti is the heir to Andrea Pirlo's creative role for the Azzurri. Both the king and the prince's World Cup is over as Italy lost to Uruguay in a match where a point would have sealed their round of sixteen passage.

In a match where Pirlo pulled the strings and Verratti showed glimpses of why he is set to succeed the 35 year old, the castle of glass that was the Italian national team cracked in the second half when Verratti's compatriot Claudio Marchisio saw red for a studs-up challenge on Egidio Arevalo. Italy never recovered having lost a man and were made to pay when Uruguay's Diego Godin ended their World Cup with a late headed goal in the second half from a corner.

Losing to Uruguay makes it consecutive World Cups that Italy have bowed out in the group stages, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel for them in young Marco Verratti. The Paris Saint Germain midfielder was among the best on the field in their opener against England. He was sharp and aware on the ball, and linked up great with his teammates. England had no answer for him as he was dragging defenders away with his smart runs and inventive passing. Against Costa Rica Italy lacked the energy Marco Verratti offers, as his young dynamic approach was needed when the Italians suffered a shock loss to the South Americans. Verratti against Urugauy was an epicentre of confidence, having skipped away from challenges and playing clever passes. Verratti though was injured in the second half and towards the end his creativity was missed as his teammates searched for an equaliser.

Verratti is a representation of the new generation of Italians ready to bring them back to glory. Along with him include AC Milan's trio of Mario Balotelli, Stephan El Shaarawy Mattia Di Sciglio, Lorenzo Insigne and Domenico Berardi. All have shone for their clubs over the past few seasons and look to be the new breed of Italian footballers; fast, agile and confident. By the Euro 2016 and World Cup in four years, these special six of the many young Italians should be in their prime and  hopefully be built into a team where they can shine, and remind the world that Italians are still among the best.

Pirlo has been a loyal servant to the Italian national team for many years, and will leave a void in the midfield. Verratti though has shown the potential he has in the Italian team, having played alongside the man he looks to replace and has looked equal next to the living legend.  He, with the new generation of Italian footballers, should refresh this tired Italian team, and can take the world by storm in the upcoming years.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Memphis Depay is the heartbreak kid

In two appearances off the bench, Memphis Depay has proved to be the heartbreak kid of the World Cup. The young talent broke the hearts of the brave Australians with his winner when Netherlands beat the Socceroos 3-2, and just recently crushed Chile when he sealed a first place finish in Group B for the Dutch late on.

The recent victory against Chile was a match in which both the Netherlands and Chile fought to finish a top of group B. Both sides had casualties as Chile were missing tenacious midfielder Arturo Vidal and the Netherlands were missing Captain Robin Van Persie due to suspension.

The match proved to be an even affair, chances few and far between the two teams. The deadlock though was broken in the second half by substitute Leroy Fer who turned in a header from a corner played short that resulted in Daryl Janmaat delivering a killer cross. The Netherlands finished off Chile when substitute Depay, who applied the finish to Australia in the Dutch's last match, again proved to be the match winner. From a counter attack that begun in their box due to a Chile corner, Depay had the easy task of a tap in after Arjen Robben ran the ball to the byline and squared it to him.
Depay's goal has given the Dutch good momentum as they face a date with Mexico in the round of sixteen, with Miguel Herrera's men having beaten Croatia 3-1 to finish second to Brazil in group A.

Depay, who is just one of the hot talents that PSV Eindhoven has to offer, was usually deployed on the left wing for his club last season. Although having the natural qualities of a winger; pace, dribbling and finishing, Depay has been given a free role in his two appearances off the bench by Louis Van Gaal, and has thrived. Van Gaal rolled the dice by bringing him on against Australia in a crucial match for the Netherlands, but he was rewarded with the youngster's display, as he grabbed an assist and a goal. Depay, along with his goal, showed the exciting football he offers when in the Dutch shirt. Early after being brought on against Chile, he showed what he can do with faith from his coach, as he left Gary Medel in his dust with tricky stepovers, and tested Claudio Bravo with a long range effort that boasted confidence The resulting corner resulted in a goal, all because the youngster made some magic.

Depay's style echoes the famous words of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee". He can easily be graceful anonymous on the field, and then unleash something for the highlight reel and change the game.

Currently Depay is wanted by a host of Premier League clubs, and is reported with a reunion with Van Persie and Van Gaal in Manchester. At 20 years of age Depay, has not only proved lightning can strike twice by being decisive in his first two World Cup games, he has made Van Gaal's job harder in picking a starting eleven. This will boost his country's and his own performances, and showing he is worth believing in and the hype surrounding the talented youngster is justified.

Netherlands v Chile Match Report

Netherlands beat Chile 2-0 to top Group B and secure a match with Mexico in the round of 16. Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay both came off the bench to score the goals that gave the Dutch the win in a match of few chances.

Louis Van Gaal's side were without captain Robin Van Persie as he was suspended for picking up his second yellow card against Australia previously. Instead, Arjen Robben wore the captain armband and lead the Dutch out.

Chile were off the back of a comprehensive 2-0 win over Spain, ending the hopes of the 2010 World Champions and looking to stop the flying Dutch.

Although both teams guilty of having an attacking flair, the match was a stalemate throughout. Chile looked most likely to break the deadlock in the beginning of the first half with favourable chances, as Eduardo Vargas created the first opening with a header over the crossbar. Towards the end of the first half Netherlands were bouncing back towards the break, and were becoming more dangerous.

As both sides had limited chances in the first half, the second half kicked off, but the match still looked like it could end in a 0-0 draw as both sides struggled for opportunities. Alexis flashed a shot over the bar from a fair distance out to sum up the match so far.

As the second half continued, Arjen Robben looked the most likely to score as he was often finding space in Chile's box.

Claudio Bravo was fired a warning shot by Memphis Depay with around 15 minutes remaining as the young talent fired from range.

The deadlock was finally broken just moments later when Daryl Janmaat delivered a cross that substitute Leroy Fer turned in with a powerful header.

As the match was closing Chile fought for the equaliser but it backfired when the Dutch counter attacked and Arjen Robben squared the ball for other substitute in Memphis Depay to turn in and seal the three points for the Netherlands.

The Netherlands as a result of their 2-0 win next face Mexico now who beat Croatia 3-1 in the round of 16, while Chile will face favourites Brazil in a match that will surely have attacking flair.

Ronaldo: 'Average' Portugal were never going to win World Cup

Cristiano Ronaldo has let it known that he never felt the 'average' nation he captains had a chance of winning the World Cup. Portugal, who Ronaldo famously carried to the World Cup after single-handedly beating Sweden two times last year in World Cup play offs, still have a slim chance of making it to the round of sixteen although Ronaldo has looked to have written off their hopes. To qualify they will need to beat Ghana and call on Germany to beat the United States, and finish with better goal difference than the United states who currently sit on four points and are five goals ahead.

Ronaldo simply said the squad wasn't good enough to fly out of Brazil as champions, and didn't hold back,
 "Maybe we're an average team," Ronaldo said. "It would be a lie to say that we are a 'top' team. We have many limitations and suffer from injuries such as with Pepe [who was suspended for his actions against Germany] and [Fabio] Coentrao. This limits us a lot. We have a very limited team and we are not at the best level. This does not enable you to beat top teams.

"There are no miracles. We knew we would have a tough group, with perhaps teams better than us. I never thought we could be world champions, we have to be humble and know our level. I'm not a hypocrite, I never thought we could win the tournament "

Ronaldo also refused to dwell on the knee injury he carried entering the World Cup, 
 "I don't want to justify myself by talking about my physical problems, that's water under the bridge," he added.

"I'm here, I'm fighting, I'm trying to do my best, I'm running, and obviously it's no use talking about my issues. 

"Every day there's something new in the papers about my knee, and about this and that. That's why I don't want to justify myself. I'm here body and soul to help the national team."

The Portuguese forward spoke of how his country looked tired against the United States, but didn't want to focus on it too long because of his own problems.

"I'm not the most adequate person to answer that question, especially because I don't have the moral high ground here since I haven't been playing the way I would hope lately. 

"Obviously we had a very long season, but every team here did as well. They were also playing the Champions League and cups and leagues, so it's something everyone else could point out as well.

"I don't think we lost the game because our players lacked attitude. Every team comes here to win. We knew we weren't favourites, we have never been."

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Messi is the difference

With nothing but winning the World Cup on his mind, Argentina boss Alejandro Sabella brought a talented deck of cards to Brazil this summer. In that deck lies a joker; the most valuable card in the deck as it ahs the potential to be a game changer, and that card is Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi was first decisive for Argentina in Brazil against Bosnia Herzegovina in their World Cup opener, and was the hero again but this time against Iran. The match, which even had Argentina legend Diego Maradona in attendance, was a stalemate at 0-0 after 90 minutes due to fantastic goalkeeping at both ends. Highlight reel saves made by Sergio Romero and Ale Reza Haghighi to keep out gonzalo Higuain and Ashkan Dejagah respectively were just a few of the spectacular saves witnessed. 

Iran defended for their lives and looked Mourinho-esque throughout the match, and given the season he had and his performances last season for Barcelona, it looked like Messi would disappear and never return into the match. This was not the case, and the Argentine proved people wrong like normal. Unpredictable like the joker, Messi received the ball at the edge of the box, and in a moment he stood out of the shadow created by the legend in the crowd and curled home the winner for Argentina, saving his country a humiliating draw and denying Iran a famous point.

Messi has always been criticised for not performing on the international stage, having scored only one World Cup goal before Brazil, and the international stage is where Pele and Maradona showcased their talent and were recognised as the best. Winning the World Cup with Argentina is said to be what will cement the Barcelona striker's place with Pele and Maradona, and this summer Messi has a good shot at the trophy. Surrounded by a fortitude of talent with the likes of Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Javier Mascherano, Pablo Zabaleta and more, Messi can inspire his side to the World Cup. His rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, grabbed the headlines for his effort in carrying Portugal through the Qualifying play offs. His rival though isn't surrounded by talent like his, and having edged out the Argentine for the Ballon D'Or, La Liga top scorer, and Champions League top scorer, Messi now has a chance to outshine Ronaldo on the biggest stage of them all.

Messi has shown the desire needed to lift the trophy. The sign of a world class player is that even when they are having an anonymous and disappointing game, they can pick themselves up and produce a moment of magic that can turn the game on it's head, and Messi did just that against Iran. If the Barcelona forward can continue his form, he and Argentina can fly through and out of Brazil with the World Cup, along with knowing the Argentine captain has fulfilled his full potential.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Oliver Giroud and Benzema are France's key to success

Both having their international performances qustioned time to time, Oliver Giroud and Karim Benzema erased any doubts after having shined in France's 5-2 rout of Switzerand. Both had reasons to start over the other, but Didier Deschamps decision to start them together payed off as both were on target and linked up with the team well.

It took only 16 minutes for France to open the scoring as Giroud scored a powerful header from a Mathieu Valbuena corner. In a blink of an eye after Giroud's goal, Blaise Matuidi doubled France's lead with a near post finish after played in by Benzema. Benzema would then go onto win a penalty after 30 minutes of action but failed to take advantage as Diego Benaglio saved the spot kick and the crossbar denied Yohan Cabaye the follow up. Towards the end of the first half, France put the game out of Switzerland's reach as Giroud squared the ball across goal for Valbuena to finish off a classic counter attack.

The second half again was goals galore as Benzema scored the goal he deserved, turning home a ball delivered by substitute Paul Pogba. Moussa Sissoko scored France's last as Benzema unselfishly gave him the ball in the box and with it he beat the Swiss keeper. Switzerland scored two consolations late on as Blerim Dzemaili scored a sublime free kick that went through the wall and Granit Xhaka scored from close range past Hugo Lloris.

Didier Deschamps has many positives to take away from this dominant win but the most important is the performances put in by Benzema and Giroud. Both have rarely started together, but the pair looked sharp and clinical from the first whistle and integrated into the team fantastically. Benzema was brilliant on the ball and this led to him winning a penalty with his cheeky dribbling. He also used his play making attributes to grab two assists, and took his goal well as he slid the ball under Benaglio, having gotten over his penalty miss. Giroud on the other hand threatened Switzerland the most when on the left. From there he set up Valbuena. The Arsenal striker also scored France's 100th World Cup goal with a towering header, and was a great outlet throughout his time on the field before substituted for Pogba.

The performance put in by France shows that they look nothing like the country that self-destructed four years ago in South Africa. Under Dider Deschamps lyes a united team, and one that is spearheaded by two in-form strikers, and it has the potential to make up for it's shortcomings in the last World Cup and qualifying.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez has bitten the hand that feeds him with his brilliant brace against the country that he plies his trade in the much anticipated Group D encounter on his return from injury. The Liverpool striker opened the scoring against England with a powerful header after being setup by fellow Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani, who chipped the ball into him. The Three Lions didn't back down though and Wayne Rooney had finally scored his first World Cup goal as a wave of relief rushed through Sao Paulo. England looked to have dodged a bullet by denying Luis Suarez a win on his return, but the Liverpool forward capitalised on a mistake from his Anfield captain, Steven Gerrard, and scored a golden opportunity to secure a crucial three points for Uruguay. 

Although deemed fit to start, Luis Suarez didn't look as sharp as he normally does. His reactions and speed off the mark were notably slower than usual, it being very crystal clear to everyone in Brazil and watching live all around the world that he wasn't fully fit. This performance though will strike fear into the heart of Italy as even though he wasn't a hundred percent fit, he was still the best man on the field and was the match decider. 

The partnership of Suarez and Cavani proved effective for Uruguay against England, and will be Uruguay's key to unlocking the Italian defence. Both are world class strikers, and play the same roles they do for their respective club for their country. Suarez is the poster boy of the Uruguay team like he is at Anfield for Liverpool, and Cavani is the understudy, the role he plays at Paris Saint Germain to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Where Suarez has attacking flair and clinical finishing, Cavani has great work rate and vision. The duo's was shown as Cavani assisted Suarez for the opener of the match and Suarez played his counterpart in at one stage but Cavani shot wide when he should have scored. With an Italian defence that lacks pace, a fit enough Luis Suarez and determined Edinson Cavani could wreck havoc when they meet next week.

Suarez has also been blessed with the God-Given ability where he can make his teammates look and play better when beside him, as evidenced last season for Liverpool and the Uruguay national team in qualifying. With this he can mount a challenge for the golden boot in Brazil, as he can harass defences with his pace, dribbling and finishing, along with teammates always looking for him. The World Cup golden boot would also go nice paired with the Premier League golden boot he won last season for Liverpool. 

Uruguay have the potential to go far, but Suarez is vital to all of their dreams. The return of their talisman has proved a big boost for the South Americans, and has given them hope for making it to the round of 16. He has restored belief for his country after they received a shock loss to Costa Rica in their World Cup opener, and ended England's hopes with individual brilliance.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Robin Van Persie: One of a kind

When Netherlands flooded Spain with five goals to one, the Flying Dutchman Robin Van Persie set sail with the attacking flow of the match and bombarded Spain with a brace. In the Netherlands' recent match against Australia, he again got his name on the score sheet and secured his country's passage to the round of sixteen.

Van Persie was the target man for his team during the Netherlands 3-2 win over Australia, but it was his teammate Arjen Robben who opened the scoring and put the Oranje up by one. Australia's Tim Cahill brought the match level after just a minute after he scored a first time volley reminiscent of the goal that Van Persie scored against Aston Villa to win Manchester United the Premier League in 2013. Holland then went shockingly behind as Mile Jedinak dispatched a penalty to give the Socceroos the lead after the Dutch conceded a penalty.

The Dutch were free falling but their their captain pulled the parachute and equalised for his country by drifting into the box and powerfully scoring the equaliser after Memphis Depay played him in. Depay would then go onto win the match for Holland by curling home the winner from range.

The name Robin Van Persie should instill fear into all defences in Brazil now as he is in a form where he can do no wrong. Off the back of a disappointing campaign for Manchester United where we only saw glimpses of his clinical best due to injury problems, Van Persie has answered any questions about his form and fitness with his performances in the famous Dutch orange. He formed a deadly combination with compatriots Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder in qualifying, and they have continued their lethal linkup in their first two matches. The terrific trio have been a highlight of the tournament so far, but it will be just Robben and Sneijder against Chile next week.

Being the man with the armband and having led the Netherlands surprise package so far, when Van Persie received his second yellow card of the tournament he must have been heartbroken. One point away from finishing at the summit of group B, the Manchester United striker will be biting his nails when he watches from the stands and prays one of his compatriots plant the flag at the top, so will his manager who has counted on him so far. Having scored for fun in his last international matches, Louis Van Gaal can't replace Van Persie as he is one of a kind. The only positive is he will be fully fit for their first round of sixteen match, much to the dismay of whoever the Dutch will face in the knockout stages, as he will be fired up to carry Netherlands all the way.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Arsenal in talks to sign Mario Balotelli

Arsene Wenger is to talk to Mario Balotelli's agent about a possible move to North London this summer has revealed. 

The Frenchman is set to spend 31 million euros on the controversial Italian as he looks to bring in a world class striker this summer as Olivier Giroud is the only senior forward in the team. Youngster Yaya Sanogo has shown promise but is yet to score his first goal for the gunners, having made 8 appearances last season.

Balotelli's agent, Mino Raiola, refused to rule out a transfer to Arsenal talking to Sky Sports recently, with his client having scored 28 goals in 51 appearances for AC Milan.

"Arsenal are a fantastic club," he told Sky Sports when asked about the report.

"Only eight or 10 clubs in the world can afford Mario Balotelli - like all premium players, and he is one of the greatest.

"Anything is possible."

The arrival of Balotelli would be greeted by Arsenal supporters as Arsene Wenger has failed to bring in a marquee striker to replace the hole left by Robin Van Persie. Wenger has attempted to bring in Luis Suarez and Gonzalo Higuain last summer, but failed and had himself to blame as he ditched Higuain to pursue in Luis Suarez. Arsene Wenger famously made a 40 000 001 pound bid in a hope it would release a clause, but it was laughed off by Liverpool.

Arsene Wenger has a supposed war-chest of 122 million euros in his hands, and again has been urged to 'splash the cash' by supporters. The deadline day signing of Mesut Ozil last year showed Arsene Wenger's panick of not buying another striker, and he will have had to learn from his mistake in only having Olivier Giroud.

Thomas Muller

The talk leading up to Germany's opening World Cup match against Portugal was around how Cristiano Ronaldo would play against the Germans and if he could carry his team past them. The talking point after the 4-0 beating Germany handed Portugal is that Thomas Muller is on a mission this summer in Brazil; his objective is to be the first person to win the Golden Boot consecutively, his targets are Portugal, The United States and Ghana. 

Muller entered the race for the prestigious award after he opened the scoring for Germany with a calm and collective penalty. His goal was followed by Mats Hummels who scored a towering header from a corner delivered by Muller’s Bayern Munich teammate, Toni Kroos. Muller finished off Portugal with a goal directly before the break and secured his hat trick in the second half after Rui Patricio spilled Andre Schurrle’s shot into his feet.

Muller won the Golden Boot in his first World Cup in 2010 when the event was hosted by South Africa. The Bayern Munich forward scored five goals in six appearances four years ago as Germany made it to the semi-finals only to be knocked out by tournament winners Spain. The young German side managed to finish third after beating Uruguay where Muller scored the first goal with his last goal of the tournament. The German team Muller plays a part of now are mostly older faces of the team that played then, and look to this World Cup as a success only if they fly home with the trophy.

Muller's importance to Joachim Low is unprecedented, and will be key to their World Cup challenge. The only true striker and forward with an eye for goal in the German squad is veteran Miroslav Klose. Although Germany's all time top goal scorer, the 36 year old Lazio striker is now far from his prime, but in Muller, Joachim Low has a clinical forward that can take Germany to the end.

The 24 year old also started off his career as a striker, but now plays as a winger. Although he was moved to the wings, Muller took his striker attributes with him and has become a proven poacher. He is able to score a header and shoot powerfully with either foot. The goals he scores are usually not the most elegant, just like his style, but are usually crucial. He adds a scrappy approach that defenders don't know how to defend against, as his goals are mostly him being in the right place at the right time.

Acting as a satellite that enters space and orbits around the opposing defence, Muller can inspire Germany to the final. Playing around creative midfielders such as Bayern Munich teammates Mario Gotze and Toni Kroos, as well as Arsenal maestro Mesut Ozil, Muller should have a prolific campaign. Having won everything in Germany, he now has a great chance to win something for Germany.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Germany v Portugal Player Ratings

Germany have beaten Portugal in their opening match of the World Cup. The German's dominated the game and have shown why they are one of the best teams in Brazil. A hat trick from Muller and a gaol by Hummels will give the Germans confidence in a group they should finish top of.

Rui Patricio 4
Didn't look comfortable as early on he made a hash of a clearance which nearly cost his team, and later made another which lead to a goal. Other deliveries were also poor and will be a night to remember.

Joao Perreira    5
Gave away the penalty which was converted and gave put his side down 1-0 by pulling Mario Gotze down in the box. Struggled against an energetic Gotze and failed to add anything in attack.

Pepe    3
Started off bright making a great tackle to stop Khedira going through on goal but got himself foolishly got red carded by palming Thomas Muller in the face and then headbutting him when on the ground.

Bruno Alves  4
Couldn't beat Hummels in the air for the second and cleared the ball right into Thomas Muller who scored the third for Germany.

Fabio Coentrao   6
Carried off the field in the second half and will be a huge miss for Portugal who never gave up like Ronaldo which sadly cost him.

Miguel Veloso   5
Showed glimpses of class but was overrun by Germany's dominant midfield.

Joao Moutinho  5
A quiet performance from the Monaco man as his creativity was cancelled out by Germany.

Raul Meireles  5
Like Moutinho he had a quiet night and struggled in the midfield as Germany were too good.

Nani  6
Threatened Germany at times with his speed and shooting, one of Portugal's most threatening.

Hugo Almeida   5
Shot straight at Neur when played in by Ronaldo early on in the match and taken off in the first half due to injury.

Cristiano Ronaldo  6
Looked energetic from the start and played Almeida in on goal early on which should have ended in a better product. Had two shots saved by Neuer but never gave up wanting to open his World Cup scoring.


Eder   6
Replaced Almeida early in the first half and had a penalty shout late in the second half. Was a threat in the air but that was all.

Ricardo Costa  4
Brought in for the sent off Pepe, and struggled against the German attack like his defence partners.

Andre Almeida  5
Replaced Coentrao at left back and

Manuel Neuer    7
Looked confident and comfortable at his goal, producing two saves to deny Cristiano Ronaldo. Took his kicks well producing great deliveries to his team which setup attacks.

Jerome Boateng   7
Was a threat down the right and his cross led to Muller's second. Didn't have much to do defensively as Germany took hold of the match.

Per Mertesacker
A strong and reliable performance from the big German who was a reliable figure at the back partnered with Hummels.

Mats Hummels    8
Scored the second with a towering header and strong defensively. Made a great sliding challenge on Almeida in the first half that unfortunately though injured the him. Got hurt himself in the second half and Jurgen Lowe will hope he is available for the next matches.

Benedikt Howedes   6
Put in a decent display and could have given away a penalty when he challenged Eder late on in his box.

Phillip Lahm  7
Put in a solid display from midfield, and lead his team well in the position he has now become accustomed to.

Khedira   7
Made great forward runs in the first half and narrowly missed opening the scoring with a first time effort outside the box into an open goal. Held up midfield effectively and proved his fitness.

Toni Kroos  8
Elegant on the ball and switched the ball to the width throughout the match. A great corner delivery lead to Hummels header and played a part in the third with a cross on the right.

Thomas Muller    9
Most lethal man on the field; scoring his first German hat trick and got a pivotal figure at the back for Portugal red carded early on. Looks to reclaim the Golden Boot that he won in South Africa and be the first man to win it consecutively with a hat trick that puts him in the lead for the prestigious award.

Ozil    8
Crucial to the first three goals having performed a slick back heel to Muller in the build up to the penalty, set up Gotze whose deflected effort won the corner Hummels scored and slid in a nice ball to Boateng who whipped into the box in the build up to Muller's second. Linked up fantastically with teammates and should have scored early in the second half when played in by Gotze.

Mario Gotze   8
Won the penalty and corner that gave Germany their first two goals respectively. Played in Ozil early in the second half where his compatriot should have scored and had the chance to score when Schurrle crossed it to him but couldn't take advantage. Great on the ball and a vibrant display form the Bayern Munich man.


Andre Schurrle  7
Replaced Ozil and put in a great performance. Unselfishly crossed it to Gotze on the break which should have resulted in a goal and setup Muller's third with a shot that spilled to the Bayern Munich forward. A great option for the team.

Lukas Podolski   5
Came on late and didn't make any impact.

Shkodran Mustafi   5
Came on for Hummels late and had little to do.

Mario Balotelli's bright display

Back at his boyhood club, Mario Balotelli's AC Milan career started off like a newlywed couple. The honeymoon period between the Italy international and the Rossoneri consisted of 13 goals in 15 games from his January arrival. Fast forward a year and a half since his January 2013 arrival and the Italy international has missed his only two penalties in Italy, received heavy criticism and other issues have arisen, along with talk of a divorce between him and Milan surfacing. With these problems rising to the surface, Balotelli needed a bright display in Italy's World Cup opener against England, and he did just that.

Scoring the winner against the country who spat him out back to Italy, Mario Balotelli has proven why is he the first name on the team sheet by Cesare Prandelli. Italy went ahead through a powerful effort outside the box from Claudio Marchisio before England stopped the Italians celebrations and brought the game level through Daniel Sturridge. Italy needed Balotelli to stand up, and having received a lack of service from his teammates throughout the match, Balotelli looked like he needed to produce a moment of magic on his own. 

Balotelli was eager to score against the Three Lions, and it looked like he would open his World Cup scoring with a cheeky chip over a lost Joe Hart. But it wasn't meant to be as he was denied this amazing goal by Phil Jagielka who cleared his effort off the line. This was a glimpse that he was at his clinical and poaching best, but the final ball he wanted was not delivered, not until Candreva showed his class. Antonio Candreva walked right past Leighton Baines and delivered the killer cross that Balotelli was needing the whole match, and he dispatched it past Joe Hart with a back post header.

The goal was just as important to Mario as it was to Italy. Balotelli was needing to show that he is the best option Italy have for a forward, and that he is still one of the best in the game. In recent weeks the hype around Ciro Immobile raised, as the new Borussia Dortmundsigning scored a hat trick against Brazilian club Fluminense in a warm up game. Balotelli though showed his class and why he started ahead of the Immobile, and delivered having scored the match winner, with the headlines reading 'Super Mario' as the hero.

With Italy in the forefront to march out of their group as the leaders, and not having anywhere near as much pressure as nations such as Germany, Brazil and Argentina, Balotelli has a chance to bring Italy back to that bracket of favourites. He has shown he is capable of reviving his nation and his career. 

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Italy vs England player ratings


Joe Hart  7
Commanded his area well by stopping supply to Balotelli, and could do nothing about either goals.

Glen Johnson   6
Got forward whenever England had possession but never delivered a good ball into the box.

Gary Cahill    6
Made strong challenges and blocks during the match and partned well with Jagielka

Phil Jagielka    6
Stopped Mario Balotelli from scoring a cheeky chip by heading the ball off the line, and was comfortable with Cahill.

Leighton Baines   4
Struggled against Candreva and Darmien on the left and lacked quality when in the attacking third.

Jordan Henderson 6
Worked hard in the midfield and tested Sirigu early on.

Steven Gerrard   6
Took up his Liverpool position of last season and sat deep spraying balls forward. Made the occassional run forward.

Danny Welbeck 6
Quiet going forward but did his share of defensive cover, pressed the defenders in their half.

Raheem Sterling  7
Bright performance for the youngster on his World Cup debut always trying to take on the Italian defence. Played Rooney in with a great ball in the lead up to England's goal.

Wayne Rooney  6
Missed a few chances, one glorius chance when he turned the defender and had the whole goal to shoot at but shot wide.

Daniel Sturridge   7
Scored the equaliser for England when Italy looked to still be celebrating and showed his speed beating his man multiple times.


Jack Wilshere   4
Didn't add anything to the team and made poor choices when he came on.

Ross Barkley   6
Showed bright sparks and tested Sirigu early on after he came on.

Adam Lallana  5
Was comfortable on the ball but failed to do anything decisive as Darmian had his number.


Salvatore Sirigu:   8
Looked uncomfortable at times during England corners but pulled of wonderful saves matching Buffon's quality.

Andrea Barzagli   7
Made good interceptions and strong defensively but couldn't match the pace of England's forwards at times.

Matteo Darmian  8
Great debut for the right back who was enthusiastic going forward proving a great outlet and good defensively.

Giorgio Chielini:  7
Pushed forward whenever he had the chance down the left and was comfortable behind the ball. Made strong tackles when required.

Gabriel Paletta    6
Looked uncomfortable when England showed their pace but made crucial clearances throughout second half.

Daniele De Rossi   7
Sat in front of the back four which allowed Pirlo to roam comfortably. Made a few ruthless challenges but strong overall performance.

Andrea Pirlo   10
The best man on the field as he was the heart of the Italian attack. Cleverly let the ball run through his legs which set up Marchiso to open the scoring. Unlucky not to have scored a sublime freekick.

Marco Veratti   8
Creative in possession and energetic throughout his time on the field before substituted for Paris Saint Germain teammate Thiago Motta.

Marchisio  8
Covered a lot of distance throughout the match whether it was pushing up in attack or tracking back in the second half. Opened the scoring for his side with a low finish outside the box in the first half.

Candreva 9
Harassed England on the right getting the better of Leighton Baines multiple times with Darmian. Creatively got past his marker and provided a killer cross for Balotelli to score the match winner.

Mario Balotelli  8
Didn't have a lot of chances but took his best chance by scoring a header at the back post to win the match for Italy. Spear headed the attack well and showed why he is their first choice striker.


Alberto Aquilani    5
Helped ensure Italy remained in shape and keep their lead.

Thiago Motta    6
Used his experience to ensure Italy's midfield was strong and used possession well.

Ciro Immobile   5
Did plenty of running to keep Cahill and Jagielka on edge but was caught offside multiple times.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Diego Costa's debut

Diego Costa's dream debut has turned out to be a nightmare introduction having been humiliated by the Netherlands. Netherlands put five past Spain after Xabi Alonso scored a penalty won by the Atletico Madrid striker. The Dutch came back and equalised at the end of the first half against the run of play thanks to an amazing diving header from their captain Robin Van Persie. Netherlands then kicked into another gear as they dominated the second half, with Arjen Robben giving Holland the lead eight minutes in before Stefan de Vrij scored the third with his first international goal. This was followed by Robin Van Persie and Robben both earning their respective brace.

Diego Costa didn't look settled into the Spanish team, but as much was expected. The Brazilian born striker is plays as an aggressive wasp and in contrast was surrounded by floating butterflies. In the Spanish national team there are only two other players that share his mentality, his Atletcio Madrid teammates Koke and Juanfran, and neither played against Holland.

Diego Costa chose to represent Spain earlier in the year and as a result received a backlash of boos from the Brazilian crowd during Spain's World Cup opener. The forward started off the match with enthusiasm making runs in behind the Netherlands defence that were unnoticed by his midfielders. The few runs that were noticed though Costa tried hard to score, taking an ambitious shot at a tough angle just to fly wide. He also tried to twist and turn defenders in the box in the first half but couldn't get the best of the Dutch defence.

The only glimpse of the Diego Costa that harassed defences all season at Atletcio Madrid was when he won a penalty by instinctively leaving his left leg out to be challenged by Stefan de Vrij.

Although Diego Costa looked like the piece of the jigsaw puzzle forced into it's position, if manipulated the right way he can become the weapon Spain need him to be. This match Spain lacked the aggression and bully approach an inform Diego Costa exerts. Costa isn't like his fellow strikers in the team Fernando Torres and David Villa where he lingers around the defence, instead he harasses them and takes them on. Spain need to adapt to his game, allow him to be the target man he was last season for Diego Simeone. They need to feed him service, give him the ball and allow him to charge at defenders. They cannot play around him like they did against today against Chile, they need him to be the focal point and give him chances to score.

Manchester City sign Sagna

Manchester City have announced the signing of Bacary Sagna on a free transfer, with the right back signing a three year deal with the English champions. This will act as another blow to Arsenal fans as former captain Cesc Fabregas has recently signed a five year contract with Jose Mourinho's Chelsea.

Sagna spent seven years playing for Arsene Wenger, but called the curtains on his career for the gunners after rejecting a final contract worth 100 thousand euros a week at the end of the season. His future was in doubt since January as contract negotiations were moving along slowly.

The exit of Sagna will come as a big blow to Arsenal and put more pressure on Arsene Wenger to splash the cash this summer. Arsenal have considered Atletico Madrid's Juanfran as the Frenchman's replacement but nothing is set in stone as the gunners will most likely act he end of the World Cup.

Sagna's arrival at City is the newest in fine line of players that have left North London for Manchester, with Robin Van Persie having left Arsenal for Manchester United in 2012 and Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor all having left the Emirates for the Etihad Stadium.

Benzema world cup

With Franck Ribery out injured and the lead role in the play that is the France national team vacated, Karim Benzema has a chance to shine on stage and perform for the whole world to see. Benzema enjoyed a superb season for Real Madrid last term under the shadow of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, but now it's his turn to enjoy the limelight with the void that Ribery has left in the France team, and he can inspire France to World Cup glory this summer.

Having tasted the glory of a Champions League title last season with Real Madrid, Karim Benzema will be hungry for more gold in Brazil. In France's last match before the World Cup in the international friendly against Jamaica, Benzema was the most lethal man on the field, a level above everyone else. The Frenchman grabbed himself a brace and a treble of assists, along with showing fantastic build up play with his teammates. Benzema's two goals were unstoppable and chances he sculpted out of nothing with the great passing and touches he had with his teammates before pulling the trigger. The assists showed the vision and creativity Benzema has to offer when deployed correctly. He is a true target man on the field, and his teammates don't look for him without a reason. He can charge at defenders taking the ball forward and also has the ability to  hold play up and bounce passes off with teammates.

To be the star that shines brightest for France, Benzema will have to play with the confidence he has exerted over the last few months for club and country. He knows how to re-ignite himself after being extinguished having ended a drought of 1224 minutes of international football without a goal last year, but now he has to stay on fire and keep burning for his country. To do this he will have to score or assist multiple goals in the group in which France are placed in, which contains Honduras, Switzerland and Ecuador. On paper France are a class above these three teams, and this  group could also act as a stepping block for an unexpected golden boot challenge from Benzema.

With the presence of Olivier Giroud in the squad, there is no room for failure from Benzema in the group stages of the World Cup. In the best form of his career, a great World Cup from Benzema will not only boost his international reputation but will give Real Madrid a reason to stick with him and not pursue Luis Suarez.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Balotelli needs a great world cup

Back at his boyhood club, Mario Balotelli's AC Milan career started off like a newly wed couple. The honeymoon period between the Italy international and the historic club conisted of 13 goals in 15 games from his January arrival. Fastforward around a year and a half and the Italy international has missed his only two penalties in the famous rossarie shirt, received heavy critiscism and other issues have arisen, along with talk of a divorce surfacing.With these problems rising to the surface, Balotelli is in need of a revival, and with the upcoming World Cup he has a chance.

Last season Balotelli scored 14 goals in 30 appearances for Milan. The campaign was a largely disappointing one for Mario, but he has a chance to right the wrongs of last season and be the figurehead of the Italy team in Brazil. Italy have the pleasure of not having pressure on them this campaign, all eyes on Brazil and Spain. This said, italy are still expected to at least qualify from their group, one in which consists of Uruguay, England and Costa Rica. 

The other forwards Balotelli has to compete with consists of veteran Antonio Cassano and the inexperienced trio of Alessio Cerci, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne. Balotelli is no doubt the first name on the team sheet out of the three, and will carry the strikeforce. For Mario to kick off the World Cup he needs to have, he has to instantly send a message and make an example out of England. To score and inspire Italy to a win over the country whose media drove him out to join Serie A would be a superb start. This would show that he is here to make an impact and show why he is still one of the best strikers around.  From there he has to focus on guiding Italy past Costa Rica and Uruguay, both teams he has a good chance of being a meance to and should look to score against. 

If Balotelli and Italy out of the group, which looks likely, Italy will have to face in the round of 16 either Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan or Greece. Besides Colombia, and Japan who nearly gave the Italian's a shock at last years Confederations Cup, the Azzuri and Balotelli should look to easily get past, and make at least the quarter finals.

A main criticism of Mario last season was his workrate and attitude during games where things weren't going his way. At times Balotelli seemed disinterested in what was going on. If his team didn't have the ball, Balotelli didn't bother to help out and do his part in tracking back. He sat up high with the oppositions defence when he was needed back to help get the ball. He was also guilty of not putting himself out enough at times, just expecting his teammates to pick him out, not making himself available. If he makes himself an option in the world cup in deadly positions he will no doubt be among the most feared forwards in Brazil, along with playmakers such as Pirlo and Veratti behind the ball.
The numerous times the 23 year old went to ground easily last season was also criticised. Balotelli threw himself to the ground and tried to win a penalty most times he entered the box, but would have been better to take the shot on himself. Whhenever he didn't get the penalty he was looking for, he threw a minature tantrum, and was given a yellow card. At the World Cup he can not revert to these dirty tactics and will be better off having his eye on the goal and not on the feet of defenders. 

Balotelli will also play along one of the world's best playmakers Andrea Pirlo. Mario will have to link up and have great chemistry with his teammates to truly excel in Brazil. His teammates will always be looking for him, but Mario can't just take all the chances. He will have to link with teammates and should look to bring others into the match. Ahead of a midfield maestro in Pirlo, Balotelli will no doubt have a lot of chances and get picked out a lot, and he should finish most of the chances he is presented with.

For Super Mario to lvie up to his self professed name he will have to have super World Cup. He has a great group in which he can start off with and a favourable selection of teams for the first round of knockouts. If he can inspire and be the leader on the field for this Italy team he will show why he is still one of the most talented and promising forwards in the game.

World Cup Ignored 11

Starting 11 of stars ignored by National Coaches

 Donovan    Tevez        Rossi

Nasri       Isco        Coutinho

Luis  Cole    Miranda     Carvajal

Willy Caballero:
How Alejandro Cabella has stuck with Sergi Romero again over Willy Caballero has thrown people a curve ball. After yet another superb season for Malaga in which he has bested the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Caballero was again forgotten by Sabella when he named his 23 man squad. Caballero is a keeper many national team coaches would love to have, but it seems Alejandro Cabella has never felt this way for Willy Caballero. Never having had Cabella call him up to the national side, this was most likely his last chance.

Felepe Luis:
Beaten out by his opposite of the opposite team in the same city, Felepe Luis' position in the Brazil squad was taken by Real Madrid left back Marcelo. Both players featured in the Champions League final, but was a contrast of bitterweet between the two. Felepe Luis is a player of attacking flair and physical defending, and was a vital cog in the machine Diego Simeone built at Atletico Madrid. His speed and enthusiasm to get forward in the final third opened up many defences in La Liga, while his defensive attributes halted many attacks.

Ashley Cole:
Although falling down the pecking order in Mourinho's squad, Ashley Cole's few appearances such as the match against Atletico Madrid showed he is still a world class option, having an equal contribution in attack and defence. Snubbed by Roy Hodgson in favour of Everton talisman Leighton Baines and Southampton youngster Luke Shaw resulting in the veterans retirement, Ashley Cole's experience and class will not be easily replaced in the England national team.

One of the rocks at the back for Diego Simeone's amazing Atletico Madrid, Miranda lost his World Cup spot to Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Dante. A key figure at the back last season for Atletico, Miranda formed a solid partnership with Diego Godin in defence. A big, strong, physical presence, Miranda reads the game like a book, having made crucial tackles and interceptions throughout last season for the La Liga champions. Turning thirty later on in the year, this was most likely Miranda's last chance for a World Cup, but will have to watch from the stands in his native country.

Daniel Carvajal:
Looked to have been on course to being Spain's number one right back, Carvajal experienced the same pain Felepe Luis felt, losing his spot to rival across town in Juanfran. Having had a tremendous season back with Real Madrid, Carvajal gave his all last campaign. The 22 year olds performance in the Chmapions League final was industrious, running up and down the touchlines and making great recoveries. The main reason Vincente Del Bosque would have had to not take the right back is because of his inexperience when it comes to international football.

Samir Nasri:
One of the artists behind Manchester City's Sisteen Chapel that was last years campaign, Samir Nasri had a fantastic season. The Frenchman's creative pulse was revived under Manuel Pelegrenni, and his heartbeat flourished on the field as a result. Nasri was a catalyst to Mancheser City's Premier League challenge last season, creating 91 scoring chances, the most in his team. The Frenchman also struck up a nice partnership with David Silva, showing how he can be partnered with another creative midfielder. Didier Deschamps snubbed Nasri blaming the midfield maestro's attitude in previous tournaments, and Nasri expected this. How critical of a mistake this may be will be judged in Brazil as Matthiu Valbuena is set to take the playmaker role alone.

Having started the season on fire, Isco's early season blaze soon extinguished as he fell to the bench for Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid. At the start of the season Isco was filling the void left by a particular German and was helping the Madrid fans forget the name Mesut. After performances where he left it all on the pitch, Isco started to not fit the new 4-3-3 system put forward by Ancelotti and fell down the ranks. With Spain having a star-studded midfield already, it was always going to be a challenge for the former under 21 European Champion with Spain.

Philippe Coutinho:
The star that was outshone by the bright Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho had a brilliant season last campaign. The main spark of creativity in the final third for Liverpool, Coutinho was key to Brendan Rodger's side that punched far above their weight. Having improved in all areas vastly since the 2012-13 season, Coutinho's composure improved the most. The little Brazilian has become a menace to defences in the Premeir League, with lightning quick feet and a sixth sense to pick out a killer ball. Coutinho was snubbed by Luiz Felipe Scolari in favour of Chelsea's Oscar. Even though he was never a starter for Brazil, Coutinho would have added more depth and competition for the no. 10 role behind Fred in the Brazil team, but it looks Oscar is set to grace the position the whole of the tournament.

Landon Donovan:
Landon Donovans snub from Jurgen Klinsman took the media and himself by storm. Having played in the last three world cups and scoring 3 goals in South Africa, along with being a leader among the squad, Landon Donovan's position was thought of as guarenteed. The week in which he was snubbed was a rollercoaster one for Donovan, as he broke the MLS All time scoring record. The importance of Donovan on and off the field for the USMNT over the years was obvious, being their all-time top scorer with 57 goals, but how they will handle Brazil without the star forward will be fascinating.

Carlos Tevez:
Like Nasri, Carlos Tevez was overlooked by his respective manager because of personal problems. The Argentine also like his former Manchester City teammate didn't expect to be on the plane to Brazil, famously claiming he was going to take his family to Disneyland. Tevez has enjoyed a dream debut season for Juventus, having scored 21 goals in all competitions for the Old Lady. Alejandro Sabella has opted to go with Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Rodrigo Palacio and Gonzalo Higuain over the Juventus hitman. Tevez would give a more physical approach over the four as the Argentine harasses defenders when not in possession and has the vision to pick out a teammate if not going for goal himself.

Giuseppe Rossi:
If Giuseppe Rossi was included in Italy's squad going to the World Cup it would have completed a Cinderella story. The Italy international heartbreakingly missed out on the last World Cup due to a broken leg when he was at Villareal, and will now experience the same tragedy of missing out. Having a relapse in his long term knee ligament injury which plagued him at Villareal, Rossi missed out on four months of the season. When he came back against Sassuolo in May he returned to haunting defences and scored off the bench. Having been left out for the likes of Antonio Cassano, Lorenzo Insigne, Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile, Prandelli will regret not selecting Fiorentina's figurehead who scored 16 goals in 21 games. Although not fully fit, Rossi would have been a great option for Italy, as with no risk there is no reward.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Why Torres was chosen

With nothing but a second World Cup on the mind of Vincente Del Bosque, the Spain boss recently named a strong squad in his deck of cards that he's taking to Brazil. In that deck lies a joker; the card that has the ability to change the game, Fernando Torres.

No matter what his critics say about his consistency,  Fernando Torres is still a top player, and top players perform when it matters. Torres has played the part on the big stage multiple times throughout his career, for both club and country. One of the most famous goals of his career reflect this, the goal against Barcelona at the Camp Nou that sealed Chelsea's passage to the Champions League final dream. El Nino ran the ball from halfway from an Ashley Cole clearance, and remained composed to dribble past Victor Valdes and dispatch the ball into the back of the net. A goal, arguably just as big as the latter, gave Chelsea a cornerstone for their only silverware last year. His goal against Benefica in the Europa league final gave Chelsea a 1-0 lead in the Amsterdam Arena. He again carried the ball around the keeper and passed it into the net. Another great, composed goal Torres also managed to score was within the opening 8 minutes against the 2013 champions league winners Bayern Munich last year in the UEFA Supercup. He expertly fired the ball into the back of the net first time from an Andre Schurrle cross.

Time and time again Torres has shown that although his form is inconsistent, he can still deliver when all eyes are upon him. He took those three goals with ice cold emotion and killer instinct, remeniscent of his liverpool days. Del Bosque no doubt appreciates this attribute, and is why he will be key to Spain when it comes to the knockout stages if Diego Costa isn't fully fit. He can deliver when the atmosphere is tense and can be relied on when other players may crack under the pressure.

Although he had a lacklustre season for Chelsea, Del Bosque remained loyal to Torres who was a part of the World Cup winning squad and the top scorer of the Euro 2012 campaign Spain won. When he plays for Chelsea, he is weighed down by the 50 million pound shackle around him, but on the international stage he is free. It is in these matches he shows glimpses and flashbacks of his liverpool days. He shows why he is still among the world's best dribblers and pulls off tricks and skills at ease. His stepover pass to Juan Mata in the first half of Spain's recent friendly victory showcased the confidence he has when wearing the famous red of Spain. Torres' international record for Spain is also impressive, the third top scorer for the national side. He has also managed to win the golden boot in the last two international tournaments he has participated in; 3 goals and 1 assist earnt him the award at the Euros 2012 and five goals earnt him it at the Confederations Cup last year in Brazil.

Another reason Vincente Del Bosque selected Torres over Manchester City beast Alvaro Negredo and Juventus hitman Fernando Llorente is because he provides more to the Spanish national side then a striker sitting up halfway. He links up with great chemistry to his teammates, especially with former teammate Juan Mata in the side. He constantly creates chances for his compatriots through his vision and movement, gutting open opposition defences at times with deadly balls. Torres also drags defenders away with his clever runs in behind and around the back four, never taking a moment to stop harassing them.

Even if Diego Costa is fit to start in the knockout stages, Fernando Torres gives Vincente Del Bosque a great option off the bench or start over the Atletico Madrid talisman. Torres' ability to rise to the occassion, great record in the Spainish national shirt and chemistry with his teammates are what will make him a threat to every nation in Brazil this Summer.