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Extracts of Blagg's football blogs as he follows West Ham United and England through the usual series of near disasters.

Featuring links to the Annual Billy Blagg Advent Calendar of Christmas Songs.

Also featuring guest appearances by 'Captain Olympic'.


Monday, 14 July 2014

World Cup Diary - Day 32 The Final

Today's World Cup Menu
Bratwurst with German mustard, German spicy salami, Frikadellen meatballs, Viento Sur Argentinian Malbec

Germany win it!

Germany justifiably won the 2014 World Cup with an excellent team performance topped by a superb winning goal in extra time from Mario Gozte. After 113 minutes of quality football that Argentina shaded on chances alone, the deadlock was broken in sublime fashion by a substitute who managed to score one of the goals of the tournament too in the process.

Argentina were understandably broken at the end as they knew that at least two chances that fell to Messi and Higuane that saw them clean through with only the keeper to beat. But when that keeper is 'only' Manuel Neuer and he is generally recognised as being the best in the world then it puts a bit more pressure on and neither chance was even on target with Messi's rolling just wide. I wonder how much the build up of invincibility that Neuer has garnered led to those missed opportunities in the final? I expect a lot.

There's little point in discussing the final at length; there are places galore to do that. All that needs to be said is that the best team won, Neuer rightly won the Golden Glove for best goalkeeper and Lionel Messi was - incorrectly in my view - named as Player of the Tournament. In the sense that, without the Barcelona player, Argentina probably wouldn't have got as far as they had, could then I guess, make an argument for him. However, for me, he failed to make his mark on the big games and was virtually anonymous in the semi and final. For that reason alone he would not be the best player for me. Germany must have had four or five players better or, for an outside runner, it could have gone to Colombia's James Rodriguez - although it would be unusual for the best player to be someone who has gone out in the quarter-final.

Generally the 2014 World Cup has been seen as a major success although I have felt it hasn't always been as scintillating as those sitting in Brazil itself would sometimes have it. Personally, I've enjoyed the tournament immensely although I'm not sure the experiment of the referee's keeping their cards in their pockets really worked - there could have been a sending off or two in the final - but it was a shame that player's couldn't have taken the opportunity to at least try not to cheat and foul as a result. All this proved to me was that it isn't the official's fault that games are decided by cards and ten or nine man teams.

Some of the later games became dull as fear crept in and I think it would be worth trying - at International level at least - perhaps changing the rules for substitutions during the extra time period. Although the final thankfully proved otherwise, too often extra time is merely a prelude to a penalty shoot-out and something needs to be done to make extra time a viable opportunity to win the game. It would be an interesting experiment to see if the opportunity to bring on two extra subs in added time forced more teams to try and win the game during the allotted period. It may not work but something needs to be done.

Similarly, as in the league and continental game, it is sad to see the return of the 'professional' foul, which seems to have crept back into the game. All the foam lines in the world won't help if this continues and there needs to be some extra punishment for blatant fouling elsewhere on the field when normal convention suggests it 'doesn't mean as much'. Perhaps a further ten yards from where the foul took place would cut it out.

However, it does seem to be flowing against the tide to suggest that things aren't top notch when pretty much everyone is back-slapping over a successful tournament so I'll just put it down to the late nights and the World Cup menu and bid you all farewell from another World Cup blog.

Without the continued input into ESPN as I've had in previous years, it's been quite hard to keep this up and it may not be something I'd try and do in the future..but hey!  that's four years away now (Gulp!) so I think I'll leave it all at this point and just thank everyone who has joined in the hoopla.

The Premier League starts in just over a month.... Ho-hum!

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