The Biggest Mistakes of World Cup 2014
After a four-week feast of phenomenal football we are now just 90 minutes away from finding out whose name will be on the trophy.
Over the course of 62 matches we've seen spills, thrills and plenty of skills, but the magic has been equally matched by the madness.
Here are the five biggest mistakes made at World Cup 2014.
Agree with our selections? Post your top five moments below.
5) Not Playing Rooney in a Central Role
The Three Lions never held any realistic hopes of winning the title in Brazil, but Roy Hodgson’s failure to utilise star man Wayne Rooney certainly didn’t help their cause.
Hodgson’s refusal to build the team around his most gifted talent is a truly perplexing decision and raises many questions. Rooney had been the nucleus of Hodgson’s attacking unit throughout qualification. Injuries limited the Manchester United man to just six World Cup qualifying appearances but he still managed an impressive seven goals to finish as UEFA’s seventh-highest scorer on the road to Brazil.
Despite being deployed in a variety of positions in order to accommodate others, Rooney still managed to bag his first-ever World Cup finals goal in the 2-1 defeat against Uruguay—whilst operating from a more central position. He also provided a wonderful assist for Daniel Sturridge in England’s opening game against Italy.
Hodgson must reinstall Rooney as the main man in the next campaign.
4) Lack of Dutch Courage in the Shootout
When all is said and done, Louis van Gaal's Netherlands will look back on this summer's tournament with an immense sense of pride. However, the shenanigans surrounding their semi-final shootout loss to Argentina has to be one of the biggest disappointments of the entire World Cup.
Having successfully survived one shootout, the Netherlands were taken to penalties yet again on Wednesday. Confidence should have been sky-high, but instead the Dutch stars crumbled under the pressure in Sao Paulo.
With all three available substitutions having been made earlier in the night, Van Gaal simply couldn't deploy Tim Krul as a shootout specialist goalkeeper and that instantly heaped the pressure on regular shot-stopper Jasper Cillessen.
In the fallout of that extraordinary situation against Costa Rica, it became common knowledge that the Ajax custodian had never saved a penalty and that must have offered a confidence boost to the Argentina takers.
However, more damaging than that was the reported refusal of Dutch players to step up and be counted. According to Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail, two Oranje stars shirked the responsibility of taking the side's first penalty, leaving defender Ron Vlaar with the unenviable task of opening the shootout.
Inevitably, the centre-back missed, handing Argentina the advantage. Just seven kicks later, the Netherlands were out of the World Cup.
3) Biting Chiellini
Biting another footballer in the middle of a World Cup contest should theoretically rank No.1 on the tournament's shock-o-meter. However, nothing surprises us with Uruguay's Luis Suarez and it's simply the latest episode in a catalogue of deplorable actions committed by the troubled striker.
Nevertheless, his mid-match gorge on Italy's Giorgio Chiellini will still go down as one of the most costly errors of World Cup 2014.
Suarez had earlier demonstrated his undeniable talent by hitting both goals in the 2-1 win over England, but ill-discipline once again overshadowed the 27-year-old's contributions at the tournament. This was the third occasion that Suarez had nibbled on an opposing player, and the Uruguay man was quickly sent home after being hit with a four-month ban from FIFA, as per BBC Sport. Three bites and you're out!
Uruguay weren't the same without their talisman and were eliminated from the tournament in the very next match by South American rivals Colombia.
Their record with Suarez: two games, two wins. Without: two games, two defeats. Enough said.
2) Thiago Silva's Reckless Booking
With Brazil leading Colombia 1-0 with just half an hour to play in their crucial quarter-final, the Selecao’s bid for a sixth World Cup trophy appeared to be right on track. Then a moment of madness from captain Thiago Silva initiated a string of events that would derail the host’s campaign.
Despite his side being under no apparent danger, the 29-year-old skipper needlessly challenged Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina, who was still in possession of the ball, to give referee Carlos Velasco Carballo no choice but to produce the critical yellow card. It was a bizarre moment that ruined what had been an otherwise faultless display from the Brazilian No.3.
With Neymar picking up a tournament-ending injury later in the same game, Brazil’s hopes had been dashed. The hosts would go on to become a global laughing stock after their devastating 7-1 semi-final loss to Germany.
We’re not suggesting that Silva’s inclusion would have stopped Germany reaching the final, but it’s safe to say it would’ve been a much closer contest. That moment of madness will haunt the captain for years.
1) Fixing What Wasn't Broken
It seems a lifetime ago since Spain were left utterly humiliated by that earth-shattering 5-1 defeat to the Netherlands on Day 2 of the tournament, but we shouldn’t forget just how lacklustre the defending champs were in their pitiful attempt at retaining the crown.
Spain had dominated world football for over half a decade, winning three successive major trophies with their widely celebrated tiki-taka style. However, manager Vicente del Bosque made a fatal error by trying to embed striker Diego Costa into the system,
The 25-year-old may have torn defences apart to spearhead Atletico’s incredible run to the La Liga title, but his face simply did not fit in the national side. Costa looked completely out of sorts in Spain’s opening two fixtures as the world champions crashed out in emphatic style.
He received a WhoScored.com average rating of just 6.17 and failed to make any telling contribution to his side’s efforts. Del Bosque dropped Costa for the final game in favour of David Villa and Fernando Torres—inevitably both strikers found the net as Spain beat Australia 3-0 to register their only points of the group.
Spain fought tooth and nail to ensure Costa chose to represent them in favour of his birth nation. After the dismal showing in Brazil, they probably wish they hadn’t.