Biggest Blunders from This Week's International Friendlies as World Cup Beckons

Phil KeidelContributor IIMarch 6, 2014

Let's be careful out there, David.
Let's be careful out there, David.Denis Doyle/Getty Images

As a Manchester City featured columnist for this site, my reaction to international friendlies is always the same: Who cares who wins as long as nobody gets hurt?

Watching David Silva and Jesus Navas come on as substitutes for Spain in their 1-0 victory over Italy is good. Seeing that Alvaro Negredo didn't get into the match is better.

Injuries are the greatest fear for the fan. For the players, though, embarrassment on the world stage may be the greater fear.

Here, in words and pictures, are a few of the notable gaffes committed by newsworthy national teams in the recent series of international friendlies.

United States Men's National Team Defenseless Against Ukraine

In a friendly match moved to Cyprus for decidedly unfriendly reasons, the United States Men's National Team gave the Ukraine two gifts in the form of ramshackle defending that left keeper Tim Howard—wait for iton an island.

Where are all the American defenders in this picture? Exactly.
Where are all the American defenders in this picture? Exactly.Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images

The American back four in front of Howard tripped over one another in allowing Andriy Yarmolenko to score in the 12th minute.

The match was effectively ended in Ukraine's favor in the 67th minute when the American defense allowed Marko Devic to play pepper against Howard until Devic finally dribbled home Ukraine's second goal. The ball moved faster than the American defenders' reaction to it, but just barely.

England Wins But Does Not Impress (Especially Denmark's Manager)

Roy Hodgson's side slogged through more than 80 minutes of uninspired football in front of a partisan crowd at Wembley Stadium looking for reasons to believe that the Three Lions can go deep into the knockout round of the World Cup this summer.

Then Daniel Sturridge, whose recent emergence with Liverpool must quietly be killing Manchester City and Chelsea, nodded home the winner in the 82nd minute.

How impressed was the Danish manager Morten Olsen with England's drab 1-0 win? How does this grab you:

Oh, dear.

Cristiano Ronaldo Beats Cameroon

Maybe it is unfair to call this last one a "blunder." It is not like Cameroon was ever expected to go to Leiria and impose their will.

Still, while the Portuguese side has other threats (Raul Meireles is one, at least), the priority for Cameroon had to be keeping the ball as far away from Ronaldo as possible. Let the other 10 men beat you if they can.

Instead, Ronaldo scored twice and this was UEFA's takeaway from Portugal's 5-1 thrashing of Cameroon:

That Ballon d'Or seems to be sitting well with Ronaldo, yes?