Everyone loves a winner, thus a loser is required. Soccer Yanks offers a Winner and Loser list for each Group after the completion of each round of games, then the same with each knock-out rounds. Here is the second round.
Enjoy you winner, you.
- Guillermo Ochoa: Ochoa was brilliant against Brazil. His six saves included the save of the tournament thus far. Brazil deserved the win, but Ochoa deserved a clean sheet. Oh yeah, have you heard? Ochoa will be out of contract after in July.
- Mario Mandzukic: Croatia was not awful against Brazil, but they lacked a true threat at forward. Mandzukic was a problem for Cameroon all game. He got under Alexandre Song’s skin, and scored two goals at the end of the game.
- Croatia’s Midfield: Croatia struggled to keep possession against Brazil. Croatia used their passing ability to strangle the life out of Cameroon.
- Haters of 0-0 matches: Blizzard subscribers are eagerly awaiting the tactical breakdown of Brazil vs Mexico in the 2017 Spring issue. The faux-football loving and non-football loving media can be annoyed, but that was an exciting match. No shots on goal equals no excitement, not no goals…
- Fred: Disappointing in his first two starts. He was invisible the first game. The second game he was called offside more than shots taken. With teams focusing the majority of their energy stopping Neymar and Oscar, Fred needs to find space to be more available.
- Cameroon: Alex Song was an invited to the list for giving Mandzukic a Hacksaw-Jim-Duggan style elbow that earned him a straight red. Cameroon was still in the game until the idiocy of Song. At the end of the match Benoît Assou-Ekotto head butted fellow defender Benjamin Moukandjo. Assou-Ekotto was fortunate not to get carded, but it may have been a fitting way to end their World Cup.
Player of the Group: Guillermo Ochoa
Runner-up: Ivan Perisic
- Tim Cahill: Raise and slow clap…
- Brazilian Blueprint: The Confederation Cup Final showed the world how to break the rhythm tiki-taka needs to function. Barca is still developing their more direct game, it will take at least an International cycle to filter back to the national side. Fortunately for Chile, they doesn’t have to change tactics.
- Chilean Fearlessness: The Netherlands’ score against Spain was more impressive, but Chile was more dominate. Chile’s total team effort stifled Spanish possession. Chile has a legitimate opportunity to take this group with Robin van Persie out due to yellow card accumulation. However, the Netherlands’ route one-long ball game may be able to stretch the press.
- The Netherlands Defense: The Spanish got behind them, but failed to convert multiple chances. Australia pressed them, made them uncomfortable and proved that they are who we thought they were… a more talented team won’t let them off the hook.
- Iker/Xabi, and Vicente del Bosque: It was vexing to watch Iker slide in front of the Arjen Robben rather than going for the ball. Awful punch out for the second against Chile was another sign of Iker’s lack of confidence. Xabi Alonso looked immobile and slow to get the passes off in the first game. Those problems continued in the second. With Víctor Valdés and Thiago Alcântara injured del Bosque had no like for like sub. Knew the injury issues well in advance, but de Bosque failed to have a plan B or at least a plan A2.
- Security in Estádio Maracanã: The Chilean Fans that stormed that Media Center were clearly not geniuses, but neither is manning a breakable window door with a single security guard. You don’t think a few dozen drunks, or even worse a terrorist now has some brilliant ideas.
Player of the Group: Memphis Depay
Runner-up: Tim Cahill… Goal of the tournament
- Colombia: Brazil gets all the love. Chile gets all the press. Colombia may be the best performing CONMEBOL team after two games. Without their super star striker, the Colombian collective put together enough of an attack to score 5 goals against quality opponents. James Rodríguez from AC Monaco has been a revelation in the Colombian number 10 jersey.
- Gervinho: Something special was required to break the Colombian defense. Gervinho delivered the type of hard, fearless run needed to break a tough defense. He could have went to ground twice (which Howard Webb wouldn’t have rewarded with a PK) instead he kept his balance and drove a right footed strike in the upper corner near post.
- Greece: We can bemoan Greece’s anti-football, but after not scoring a goal two games, they still find themselves with hope to advance. We want to see beautiful football, sometimes results are more important.
- Howard Webb: He was not bad, actually he was quite good. The only issue is Howard Webb needs to make sure everyone on the field, in the stands, and watching on television knows that HOWARD WEBB is calling the match.
- Japan’s Attack: Despite losing every game in the Confederations Cup, Japan shows something to be hopeful about. The team that lost 4-3 against Italy was what everyone was eager to see. They still have a chance to advance, if they can beat Colombia.
- Konstantinos Katsouranis: Greece will be without their captain in the final game after Katsouranis earned two yellows in the first half against Japan. The first yellow card was from a pointless late challenge. The second card was a professional foul, but the captain, who has more than a 100 caps, should be smarter.
Player of the Group: James Rodríguez
Runner-up: Juan Guillermo Cuadrado
- Luis Suárez: He introduced himself to this World Cup with a brace. With the lack of creativity in the Uruguayan midfield, Suárez and Edinson Cavani will need to rely on each other to produce chances.
- America’s Second Favorite Team: CONCACAF pride is in full swing with Costa Rica continuing their outstanding performance. Italy dominated possession, but couldn’t find their rhythm. Los Ticos are in position to finish at the top of the Group… The Group that include three previous World Cup champions: England, Uruguay, and Italy… And THEY BEAT TWO OF THEM!
- Justice: In the 43th minute Giorgio Chiellini fouled Joel Campbell in the box, but it was not called. A minute later Bryan Ruiz headed a Júnior Díaz cross for the game’s lone goal.
- English Backline: Leighton Baines was left on an island against Italy and was exploited. This game Baines and the center backs were beat. Cavani had time to find Suarez for the first goal and Suarez got behind Cahill and Baines on the second. The only plus was the Glen Johnson assist to Wayne Rooney.
- The referee crew, the Uruguayan trainers, FIFA: Every and anyone involved in allowing Álvaro Pereira’s return to the field after getting knocked out cold in the Uruguay – England match.
- Enrique Osses: The Chilean referee didn’t call a clear penalty on Giorgio Chiellini for taking out Joel Campbell in the box.
Player of the Group: Luis Suárez
Runner-up: Joel Campbell
- France Midfield and Forward Wingers: They were excellent in transition. They clamped down when required. The speed on the width killed the Swiss and forced their fullbacks on their heels.
- Enner Valencia: The talk prior to the World Cup focused on Antonio Valencia. With most of the players, including Enner Valencia, on Ecuadorian Serie A and Liga MX clubs, the team was a mystery. If Ecuador advance, the hardworking and talented Enner Valencia is the one opponents will need to game plan for.
- Honduras: Against France they planned prison-ball. They represented themselves much better this match and this World Cup. They scored their first goal in World Cup in 32 years. Would a result against the Swiss be a shock at this point?
- Karim Benzema: Man of the match, sure. He’s on the loser list for not doing better on the penalty kick and, especially, for lifting his leg on the wall. If you jump and the ball goes under thats one thing, but why raise your leg? If you need to protect the jewels, just cup them.
- Switzerland before the 80 minute mark: In the last two game they are outscored 6-1, and 4-0 in the first half.
- FIFA ranking: Switzerland is the third top ten team to concede 4 or more goals in a game.
Player of the Group: Enner Valencia
Runner-up: Karim Benzema… blame the leg lift
- Sergio Romero and after regulation time, Lionel Messi: Romero didn’t see a lot of action, with only 3 saves and 1 cross collected, however the saves he made were massive. Messi had few notable moments in regulation time, nevertheless the 91st minute strike was special. It had to be.
- Iran counterattack: Iran deserved better. Yeah they parked the bus, but were able to create legitimate opportunities on the counter. They should have had a penalty called with the Pablo Zabaleta foul in the box.
- Nigeria: They may not have been the best among the African teams, but they are in the best position. Can they stop Argentina, who is likely to rest, from scoring multiple goals in a win?
- The other 9 guys on the field for Argentina: Argentina held possession all game, took 21 shots, and completed 90% of passes… Still they failed to impress, especially with Iran having several chances in the second half.
- The linesman that called off the Edin Dzeko goal: Worst off-side call of the tournament. It beats the two against Mexico in their first match. B&H goes home early. Welcome to the World Cup. Add the official Peter O’Leary, if you feel Emmanuel Emenike fouled Senad Lulic on the goal.
- Milorad Mazic: The Serbian referee missed the penalty in the Argentina Iran match… bad day for Group F.
Player of the Group: Ashkan Dejagah
Runner-up: Sergio Romero
- Miroslav Klose: Klose is tied for most World Cup goals all-time with 15. The 36 year old can’t land the front flip anymore, lucky that’s not what he’s there for.
- Deuce Be Balling: Clint dare not head a ball, so why not the naval?
- German-Americans: Hey xenophobes, the German-Americans are playing well. Jermaine Jones had a howler for the first the goal against Portugal. John Brooks scored the game winner against Ghana. Finally, Fabian Johnson was phenomenal against Portugal, the USA will take an open right flank all day. Jurgen is not that bad either… but not perfect.
- Paulo Bento: Portugal got the draw late, however there really needed a multiple goal win due to the Germany collapse. The 4-3-3 allowed Ronaldo to float and never track back. The US ran up and down the right flank all game against their second choice leftback.
- Nani: Yes, he scored the first sitter and hit the post, nevertheless he was awful the rest of the match. He was to be Ronaldo’s second up top. He played no defense on the Jermaine Jones’ goal. DaMarcus Beasley and Alejandro Bedoya silenced him the rest of the game. He completed 28 of 42 passes and committed more fouls than suffered.
- Jurgen Klinsmann: The biggest mistake was swapping out Zusi for Omar Gonzalez. The US needed another midfielder with fresh legs (Mix Diskerud, Brad Davis, or even Timothy Chandler). When Omar came in the whole team sat deeper giving Portugal more space. You need to defend 30 yards from the touch line.
- *** Did Michael Bradley just have a Ricardo Clark Moment?: Hope not
Player of the Group: Jermaine Jones
Runner-up: Sulley Muntari
- Algeria: The sleeper of the Group, Algeria’s attacking talent showed up against South Korea. Only one of the six starting forwarders and midfielders didn’t have a goal or assist against South Korea.
- The French Connection: Between the France and Algerian teams, the country of France may have the most quality players in this World Cup.
- Just another Belgium Sub: In the last match, both goals were scored by substitutes. In this game the Belgium bench shined again after Divock Origi put in a goal in the 88th minute.
- Belgium’s Inability get to Romelu Lukaku Service: Lukaku hasn’t received a single pass in the box in two games. You don’t need to be a stat nerd to realize that’s an issue.
- Russians Blowing Chances in Front of Goal: Twelve shots against Belgium, only three on target, and they missed the net on two in front of the 6-yard box.
- South Korea: They got lucky to draw with Russia. The next match Algeria scored 3 in the first half then was happy to sit back in the second half.
Player of the Group: Islam Slimani
Runner-up: Abdelmoumene Djabou
This Week’s Throw-In: Seeding Predictions
1st Seed: Brazil
2nd Seed: Mexico
1st Seed: Chile
2nd Seed: The Netherland
1st Seed: Colombia
2nd Seed: Ivory Coast
1st Seed: Costa Rica
2nd Seed: Uruguay
1st Seed: France
2nd Seed: Switzerland
1st Seed: Argentina
2nd Seed: Nigeria
1st Seed: Germany
2nd Seed: USA
1st Seed: Belgium
2nd Seed: Algeria