Following the conclusion of the World Cup semi-finals featuring Brazil versus Germany and Netherlands against Argentina, we take a look at those players whose stock fell as a result of their off-colour displays in those vastly contrasting showdowns in Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo, including these five big-name stars…
Captaining his country in a World Cup semi-final on home soil on Tuesday should have been the greatest moment of centre-back David Luiz’s career to date. Instead, the Brazilian will now remember the occasion as being the worst night of his life after the host nation were annihilated 7-1 by Germany in Belo Horizonte.
And what makes it all the worse for the shaggy-haired defender is that his own performance was riddled with individual errors that ultimately ended up costing his side four goals at the Estadio Mineirao, including Thomas Mueller's crucial opener after just 11 minutes that set the ball rolling for Germany.
The central defender, who could even have been sent off following two reckless first-half elbows on striker Miroslav Klose that went unnoticed by referee Marco Rodriguez, lost Mueller after being cleverly blocked off by Klose from the corner that led to Germany’s first goal.
However, if the Brazil skipper could be forgiven for that particular lapse—which was clearly the result of a pre-planned training-ground move—then he can have no such excuse after recklessly leaving his defensive position in an attempt to win back possession near the halfway line in the build-up to Germany’s fifth goal, only to completely miss his tackle.
Sadly for the Selecao, things did not get much better either after half-time, as first Luiz was unable to react quickly enough to the presence of an unmarked Andre Schurrle in the penalty area, before the player then failed to track the second-half substitute for Germany’s seventh strike.
It's little wonder the inconsolable Luiz could be seen in tears at the full-time whistle after such an individual horror show that will have seen his stock plummet around the world as a result.
Consequently, Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, who recently decided to splash out an eyebrow-raising £50 million to lure Luiz away from Chelsea—in a deal that saw the 27-year-old become the world’s most expensive defender—may now be scrambling around to see if they kept the receipt.
David Luiz's Heat Map V Germany. PSG Paid £50million For A Central Defender Who Plays Like This... pic.twitter.com/xUQ0WP6DGF— Talking Baws (@talkingbaws) July 10, 2014
"This match will be remembered forever," Brazil holding midfielder Fernandinho told SporTV after the host nation’s 7-1 destruction by Germany in the World Cup semi-finals in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday night, and so too will the player’s own catastrophic performance.
The Manchester City water carrier did not begin the tournament as a starter under coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. However, by the time of the knockout rounds, the 29-year-old had forced his way into the first team, only to be replaced at half-time by Paulinho at the Estadio Mineirao after two eye-catching first-half mistakes.
Not only did Fernandinho—who cost the Premier League champions a whopping £34m to purchase from Shakhtar Donetsk in June 2013—miss a key interception in the build-up to Miroslav Klose’s record-breaking strike, but the defensive midfielder was also badly at fault for Germany’s fourth goal of the evening.
Having restarted the game after Toni Kroos had put his side three goals ahead, a shell-shocked Fernandinho then lost possession of the ball to the German midfielder in a critical area of the pitch to gift the Bayern Munich star a first-half brace, and the opposition an incredible three strikes in the space of just 179 seconds.
As a result, there was no great surprise when the player failed to reappear for the second period.
Brazilian newspaper Lance! rated Fred and Fernandinho as 1.3 out of 10. pic.twitter.com/aRp2gNYTMY— Sport Witness (@Sport_Witness) July 9, 2014
The muscular Brazil forward is, rather predictably, known as the Incredible Hulk. However, there was nothing superhuman about the player’s performance against Germany in Tuesday night’s World Cup semi-final, which ended with the Zenit St Petersburg star being hooked at the interval.
Rightly or wrongly, Hulk has been on the receiving end of a fair amount of criticism during the tournament, and that was even before his anonymous display in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday evening.
While it may seem harsh to single out an attacking player when a team’s defence has just conceded seven goals, the stats from the game at the Estadio Mineirao do not make pretty reading as far as Hulk is concerned.
In the first half, Hulk attempted no shots or tackles, while also making fewer passes—11—at a lower completion rate—55 per cent—than any of his team-mates, which goes a long way toward explaining why the 27-year-old was replaced by Ramires for the second half.
And this is a player, do not forget, who Zenit were prepared to fork out £32m on from FC Porto in September 2012, although after Tuesday evening’s lacklustre performance for the Selecao, the Russian giants will now struggle to recoup even half that amount for their star man.
4 - Second half sub Ramires had more shots than Bernard, Willian, Hulk & Fred put together (3) against Germany. Toothless. #BRAvsGER— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 9, 2014
Brazil left-back Marcelo did not hold back when describing Tuesday evening’s 7-1 loss to Germany in the World Cup semi-finals.
He said the match was undoubtedly "the worst" of his career and with good reason too after the player’s own error-ridden display at the back for the host nation.
And while any member of the five-time world champions’ defence could have easily been singled out for criticism, the Real Madrid star was especially culpable after an embarrassing individual performance in Belo Horizonte that directly resulted in two of Germany’s seven goals on the night.
Firstly, while his fellow defenders were all pushing up to catch Thomas Mueller offside in the moments leading up to Germany’s second goal at the Estadio Mineirao, the attack-minded full-back was asleep and played the forward onside before Miroslav Klose netted his record-breaking strike.
After half-time, the 26-year-old then decided to leave his left-back berth to try to intercept a pass out to the flanks, only to fail to cut out the intended ball, instead leaving Sami Khedira and Philipp Lahm with oceans of space to exploit down their right wing in the build-up to Andre Schurrle’s first and Germany's sixth goal.
All in all, therefore, a night to forget for the hapless Marcelo.
After Netherlands’ opening group-stage trouncing of world champions Spain, which saw Robin van Persie score twice—including a breathtaking headed goal to draw his country level at the time—the forward’s stock could not have been much higher.
And yet now, in the immediate aftermath of Wednesday night’s painful loss to Argentina on penalties in the World Cup semi-final in Sao Paulo—a match in which the Oranje captain was virtually invisible throughout before unsurprisingly being substituted six minutes into the first period of extra time—RVP’s stock could not be much lower.
This was, after all, a player who Netherlands were counting on to fire them all the way to Sunday’s final against Germany, only for the experienced attacker—who granted was carrying a stomach bug going into the showdown—to have a game to forget at the Arena Corinthians.
In fact, when Van Persie was finally replaced up front by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, the 30-year-old left the field having touched the ball just 23 times in the entire contest, less than any other starter on either side.
However, when you also realise that the Manchester United star attempted no shots on goal against Argentina—even centre-back Stefan de Vrij had one effort during the contest—then the full measure of the Dutchman’s limp attacking performance comes into focus.
Robin van Persie is a matchwinner but his performance for Holland against Argentina was disappointing: NEIL AS... http://t.co/xIxzQEr1X9— YOUNGOG (@Segzy006) July 9, 2014
*All stats are provided by www.whoscored.com