Skrill Becomes Official Sponsor of European Poker Tour Season 8

For more information please visit www.gptl.com.

Copyright 2011, Market Wire, All rights reserved.

This latest sponsorship deal for GPTL – producer of several prestigious

poker events around the world, including the EPT, Latin American Poker

Tour (LAPT) and Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT)- highlights the

significant and growing potential for more partnerships of its kind in

the future. “The European Poker Tour operates in more countries

and markets than any other tour in the world, and it’s wonderful that

companies with global aspirations, like Skrill, recognise the opportunity

we provide them to reach new customers in meaningful ways,” said Haas.

Global Poker Tours Limited is a full service poker tour production

company that develops, organises and produces the most prestigious poker

tournaments in the world. GPTL has produced more poker events in more

countries than any other company on the planet – establishing it as the

market leader in a fast growing, dynamic and exciting environment.

Businesses and venues worldwide choose Global Poker Tours as their

premier live poker production partner to develop and establish

world-class poker events. Recognising the important brand building and marketing opportunities this

sponsorship deal affords, Nikolai Riesenkampff, co-CEO of Skrill

Holdings, operating Moneybookers, said: “Skrill is delighted to join the

European Poker Tour as its Official Payment Provider Sponsor. Today

more than 90,000 merchants are registered with Moneybookers.com,

including global partners such as eBay.com, Skype and Electronic Arts.

About Skrill

-0-

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM, Aug 03 (MARKET WIRE) –

Global Poker Tours Limited (GPTL) has secured its third major sponsorship

deal this year with the announcement that payment provider Skrill will

become the Official Payment Provider Sponsor of the European Poker Tour

Season 8, which begins this week in Tallinn, Estonia.

GPTL managing director Jeffrey Haas expressed his excitement at the

latest partnership. Now in its

eighth season, the EPT has grown to become one of the largest and most

lucrative poker tours in the world. Our headline sponsorship promises to

deal a winning hand when it comes to strengthening our position as the

leading digital wallet and bankroll management option among the world’s

poker players.”

In February 2010 The Sunday Times Deloitte Buyout Track 100 league table

ranked Moneybookers as the Number 1 fastest growing, private

equity-backed firm in the UK based on profits. In 2007, Investcorp Technology

Partners undertook the buyout of Moneybookers from its founders. GPTL is committed to finding other business partners with

local, regional or international brand aspirations.

Riesenkampff added: “Skrill has a long and established track record

providing easy, safe and secure payment options, and as a result is

widely regarded as one of the most preferred deposit and withdrawal

methods by the online gaming community.”

Skrill, the new name for Moneybookers – one of Europe’s largest online

payments systems and among the world’s largest independent digital wallet

providers is partnering with the EPT to support its ongoing worldwide

expansion plans following growth amongst new accounts of almost 50% last

year.

About Global Poker Tours

Skrill and the EPT

Skrill Holdings Ltd operates Moneybookers.com, one of Europe’s largest

online payments systems and among the world’s largest independent digital

wallet providers with over nineteen million account holders. The digital

wallet enables any customer to make online payments conveniently and

securely without revealing personal financial data, as well as send and

receive money online cost-effectively simply by using an email address.

Moneybookers’ worldwide payment network offers businesses access to

direct payment processing via over 100 payment options in over 200

countries and territories through just one integration.

As part of Skrill’s sponsorship deal, the payment provider will have a

strong visible presence at EPT events across Europe, with representatives

talking to customers on the ground and helping players register for

accounts by offering various incentives and loyalty programmes.

For more information, please email info@gptl.com.

Contacts:

For more information, please email

Global Poker Tours Limited (GPTL)

info@gptl.com. For more information

please visit www.moneybookers.com/app/skrill.pl.

Founded in 2001, Moneybookers was the first e-money issuer to become

authorised and regulated by the FSA

Speedo’s torpedoes to Shearer specials; Our countdown of United’s 100 greatest Premier League goals continues with some truly stunning strikes, from.

And in one of his last home games in charge of the Magpies, Keegan later claimed that the pain on Gerry Francis’ face was what caused him to quit after this rout.

Craig Spencer: Laurent Robert v Spurs – Robert was creating his own goal of the season competition in this game. But for me, I have to say Tiote’s unbelievable strike against Arsenal. Everyone knows how good Shearer is but I still didn’t expect that. How massive.

James Milner clipped in a dangerous ball from the left and in a flash Martins chested the ball down before performing incredible technique to beat the Finn with an overhead kick.

PART Two of our series running through United’s 100 greatest goals in the Premier League, sees some spectacular efforts from the big names.

Some of football’s most celebrated players have pulled on the black-and-white of Newcastle, and many of them are here today – from Alan Shearer to Peter Beardsley, Gary Speed to Rob Lee.

To join in with the debate and to let us know what you believe is the best United goal of the last 20 years, log on to www.chroniclelive.co.uk And here’s today’s list, from Nos 90 to 81.

But perhaps this goal typified it the most.

This was Alan Pardew’s first game in charge and one of Carroll’s last games for the Magpies.

With 23 minutes gone of this encounter in May, Alex Manninger wasn’t sure who was going to hit it.

Woodward: Philippe Albert v Manchester United – I was on holiday for my ninth birthday and we were playing Man Utd. But if anybody was capable of tearing the net off it was Big Al.

And the legendary Speedo was right in the thick of it.

The game was gone by the time Ben Arfa picked up the ball on the right-hand side of the field before his acceleration took him into the box. The bar in Tenerife was full of Man Utd fans and I watched in amazement as the goals went in.

The only shame was it was no more than a consolation goal.

45,-FEW who travelled to Bolton five years ago will forget Obafemi Martins’ spectacular strike that left Jussi Jaaskelainen with no chance.

CAPTION(S):

But that didn’t stop them from serving up a typical encounter full of thrills and spills at Pride Park.

Had it been a last-minute winner or a vital equaliser it would have received more plaudits.

And don’t forget you can have your say on the Magpies’ greatest goals of the Premier League era.

Yet Shearer stepped up 25 yards from goal to slam home his 30th of the season and put United on course for victory.

When Danny Guthrie lifted the ball across the hallowed turf from right to left, Coloccini did the rest.

in the 1999/2000 season, Newcastle weren’t short on freekick specialists.

THIS goal kept the title dream alive for Newcastle fans at the City Ground.

THE ball was pumped in from the right-hand side with Ameobi neatly controlling it at the Leazes End.

He fended off Marcel Desailly and John Terry before swivelling and slamming the ball past Marco Ambrosio to score arguably his best goal in a black-and-white shirt.. It kept the championship dream alive until the last game of the season.

Jorgen Wiig: Cheick Tiote v Arsenal – The Shearer goal against Everton is an absolute classic. But he underlined his love for the Geordie public after this howitzer from a free-kick.

WHAT A GOAL Tiote GREAT GOALS Coloccini’s blast against Spurs, Solano scores at Leeds (top left), Ben Arfa in action at Fulham (inset), and Carroll’s Liverpool goal (above) GOALS TO NEWCASTLE Obafemi Martin’s overhead kick at Bolton, Gary Speed celebrates at Derby (left), Alan Shearer net against Arsenal (below left) and celebrates Rob Lee’s goal against Spurs (below) MAGIC MOMENTS Shola Ameobi fires home against Chelsea (top), Below: Beardsley nets at Forest

And Solano was quick to whip off his shirt to reveal a “Merry Christmas Newcastle” message on his t-shirt.

5,-ANDY CARROLL always did have a rocket launcher of a left foot.

The fact his celebratory somersault afterwards was probably easier for him said it all.

Mark Wallace: Alan Shearer v Everton – When the ball dropped to Shearer, I thought, ‘go on son, whack it’. Sensational goal!

First he controlled the ball majestically with his chest before firing home with his right foot to beat Carlo Cudicini and fire the Magpies ahead from just inside the box.

The curling set-piece left England goalie Paul Robinson beaten all ends up at the Gallowgate End.

Then, at the end, Philippe Albert, the last guy on the pitch expected to score, strides through the middle, no one closes him down and time stops and he does what you never expect, dinks it delightfully over Schmeichel and the crowd goes wild.

Nobby Solano could curl them and Gary Speed wasn’t too bad either.

Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

No 90 (,-THE Peruvian always did have a great rapport with the Toon Army. The volley for his first was quality, but his second was even better as he controlled the ball on his chest, took a touch and smashed it in from about 30 yards

With every pass being cheered David Batty laid it off for Lee to crisply smack home from 20 yards out to beat Ian Walker with a trademark long-range effort from the England man.

,5 THE Magpies’ season was as good as over in the Premier League with only the FA Cup final to look forward to for Ruud Gullit’s men.

Tom Hodgson: David Batty v Wimbledon – I seem to recall about a week after another famous David B lobbed Neil Sullivan from the halfway line, our very own midfield maestro David Batty caught a half-volley from just inside the opponents’ half which sailed over the keeper. Not just because of the goal itself, but what it meant for the whole football club. The sound was tremendous as everyone thought we were getting nothing out of the game.

The Welshman had already netted a diving header to beat Russell Hoult.

was a day when the curlyhaired centre-back showed the centre-forwards how it was done.

COPYRIGHT 2012 MGN Ltd.

No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.

Carroll picked up the ball 25 yards from goal before planting a low powerful shot into the Gallowgate End net past Pepe Reina.

However, it was probably Rob Lee’s strike that made it seven that was the pick of the bunch.

True, the night was soured by Ian Woan’s stunning strike to claw Forest back into the game.

However, on 24 minutes he stepped up to sweep home a left-footed effort that left Hoult rooted to the spot.

It was a goal that typified the class of a true Toon legend.

No 89 ./0+-(,3 WHILE Ben Arfa has scored better goals than the one he notched at Fulham earlier this year, this goal is a hidden gem during a heavy defeat at Craven Cottage.

,-KEVIN KEEGAN’S Newcastle seemed capable of tearing teams apart during a never to be forgotten five-year reign. He feinted one way, and then the other before delivering an unstoppable shot through a crowd of bodies and between the post and the keeper.

But the game was truly illuminated when Beardsley trapped a high ball outside the box before evading four defenders and slamming it to the left of Mark Crossley

Is Internet soccer betting at home is legal in Singapore?

That being said it is obvious that there are several thousands of Asian gamblers online. They are rock solid financially so you would never have to worry about your investment.

That being said I know the Asian online gambling market is a big one. I would suggest that if you are interested on soccer betting to visit the site and give it a try. One of the biggest online sportsbooks in the world is Bodog and they do cater to your market.

http://www.bodog.com/welcome/720542/spor…

Hi Gigi:

I’m not sure how the government of Singapore feels about online gambling but I know they are moving forward with the development of land based casinos. Obviously they are interested in the money involved in gambling.

I wish you luck and I hoped this helped.

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi wins third successive Fifa Ballon d’Or award to equal Michel Platini

Lionel Messi could play in the 1950s and the present day, as could Di Stefano, Pele, Maradona, Cruyff because they are all great players.

FIFPro team of the year: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Nemanja Vidic (Man Utd), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Xavi (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd).

Rooney said at the gala: “It was a great year and the highlight was winning the Premier League for the 19th time, which was a great moment for the club.”

1971, 1973, 1974

2009, 2010, 2011

Michel Platini (Fra)

“He’s going to be one of the best footballers in the history of the sport.”

1983, 1984, 1985

Lionel Messi (Arg)

Three-time winners of Ballon d’Or

1988, 1989, 1992

Barcelona’s Pep Guardiola was named coach of the year; Japan’s women’s World Cup-winning captain Homare Sawa the women’s player; Japan’s (male) manager Norio Sasaki coach of the year for women’s football; the Japanese FA were awarded the Fifa fair play award; Brazilian 19 year-old sensation Neymar won the Fifa Puskas award for the best goal of 2011.

Messi’s Barcelona team-mate Xavi supported Ferguson’s view, saying: “He’s still young, only 24, and I think he’s going to break all the records that exist in this sport.

Marco van Basten (Hol)

Johan Cruyff (Hol)

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic were both included in the world XI dominated by Spain-based players..

“Lionel Messi without question fits into that category.”

“The answer to that is great players would play in any generation

Solaire Changes the Manila Tourism Game.

For more information on Solaire Resort Casino, visit www.solairemanila.com

“I think people will be very impressed with the level of attention and detail that went into the construction of Solaire. opened the doors to the new Solaire Resort and Casino in Entertainment City adjacent Mall of Asia. Each villa also includes its own pool, Jacuzzi, and putting green. Eclipse and Dragon Bar are serving up cocktails and entertainment to kick start any evening out.

Copyright 2013 Gale, Cengage Learning. The flagship project of Bloomberry Resorts Corporation (PSE: BLOOM) is the first of four anchor properties in Manila’s Entertainment City. Two separate arrival and check-in areas pamper guests and showcase the details of world renowned resort and casino designer Paul Steelman’s striking interior design, all accentuated by numerous contemporary art pieces by Filipino Artists.

About: Bloomberry Resorts Corporation Solaire Resort Casino

SOURCE: Bloomberry Resorts Corporation (www.bloomberry.ph)

For those looking at the relaxing side of a their stay, Solaire’s spa facility, resort style pool and stunning views of the Manila Bay sunsets will provide an experience that will rejuvenate the weariest of guests.

Bloomberry Resorts Corporation (PSE: BLOOM) is a public company listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange that develops destination resorts featuring premium accommodations, gaming and entertainment, and world-class restaurants and other amenities.

The company’s flagship property, Solaire Resort Casino, is a USD $1.0 Billion integrated destination resort on an 8.3-hectare site in Manila, Philippines and will be the first to open in the government sponsored (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) economic development zone known as Entertainment City.

COPYRIGHT 2013 PR Newswire Association LLC

No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.

Populating the interior beauty of Solaire is an unparalleled gaming experience for those looking to add a little luck to their lives. While with Las Vegas Sands Corp. The overall beauty of the property is an experience all on its own,” said Mike French, Solaire’s Chief Operating Officer.

Management service for Solaire is provided by Global Gaming Asset Management (“GGAM”), composed of industry veterans with combined experience of over 100 years of global gaming development and operations. The Resort Villas range from 600 square meters to 1,000 square meters each, with a majestic view of the Manila Bay sunset. Prior to forming GGAM the three principles, Bill Weidner, Brad Stone and Garry Saunders, held senior positions with Las Vegas Sands Corp (NYSE: LVS). With its luxury, resort-style accommodations, distinct dining options and impressive gaming facilities Solaire has changed the way people will view resort casinos in Manila.

“We are extremely excited to share the first phase of Solaire with the people of Manila,” said Enrique Razon, Jr, Chairman and CEO of Bloomberry Resort Corp. Solaire has nearly 300 gaming tables featuring Baccarat, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette and other favorites, as well as 1,200 of the most popular slot machines. All rights reserved.

MANILA, Philippines, April 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — At 2:28 p.m.

Solaire’s accommodations are comprised of approximately 500 luxuriously appointed rooms, suites and bay side villas that offer sophistication in a comfortable setting. GGAM is also an equity partner in Solaire’s parent company Bloomberry Resorts Corporation.

Solaire’s Phase 1 will feature 500 luxurious rooms, suites and bay side villas, 18,500 square meters of gaming space, a host of signature restaurants, bars lounges, and a multilevel car park.

. For a more casual atmosphere Lucky Noodles, Fresh buffet and Food Court are offering up delicious dishes from across the globe 24/7. The headliners of this group are Solaire’s four signature, fine dining restaurants: Red Lantern, Yakumi, Finestra and Strip. As for the VIP treatment, there are no less than 6,000 square meters of premium VIP gaming salons.

To round out a successful day at the tables, Solaire offers eight distinct dining options guaranteed to please any palette. Enrique Razon, Jr. “We are sure that this will have a great impact on tourism here in Manila.”

Bloomberry (PSE: BLOOM), meanwhile, is a publicly-traded company listed on the Philippines Stock Exchange and is majority owned by its Chairman and CEO Enrique Razon, Jr. one of the country’s most prominent industry leaders, and the driving force behind port operator International Container Terminal Services Inc, (“ICTSI”)(PSE: ICT), one of the largest companies in the Philippines. they were directly responsible for the development of such resorts as the Venetian Las Vegas, Palazzo Las Vegas, Sands Macau, the Venetian Macau and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore

Mark Appel Selected By Astros With No. 1 Overall Pick In 2013 MLB Draft

17, 2013. Tilton / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosFans try to catch a bat that Arizona Diamondbacks’ Cody Ross lost on his swing during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Tuesday, April 30, 2013, in Phoenix. (Josh Hedges / Zuffa LLC / Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosChessboxers compete during the Chess Boxing Championships 2013 at the Izvestia Hall on November 28, 2013 in Moscow, Russia. (Charles Krupa/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosChicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer reacts after a dunk during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Chicago, Sunday, March 31, 2013. (Mark J. 2, 2013. 14, 2013, in San Francisco. (Karel Navarro/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosHouston Astros’ Max Stassi is hit in the face by a pitch thrown by Texas Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosTaleb Nariman Nematpour, left, of Iran and Saman Ahman Tahmasebi of Azerbaijan fight in the final of the men’s Greco-Roman 84kg category of Wrestling World Championships in Papp Laszlo Budapest Sportsarena in Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, Sept. (AP/TT/Pontus Lundahl) SWEDEN OUT

Best 2013 Sports PhotosUruguay’s Luis Suarez, center, celebrates his goal against Peru with teammates Cristhian Stuani, left, and Edinson Cavani at a 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer game in Lima, Peru, Friday, Sept. (Isaac Brekken / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosMarc Marquez of Spain and Repsol Honda Team rounds the bend during the MotoGP of Valencia Free Practice at Ricardo Tormo Circuit on November 8, 2013 in Valencia, Spain. (Virginia Mayo/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosNadine Browne (R) lands a right hook on Lauryn Eagle (L) during the Australian Female Lightweight Title bout at Sydney Entertainment Centre on January 30, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. (David Goldman/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosAshley Cain competes in the Ladies Short Program during the 2013 Prudential U.S. Auburn won 34-28. (David J. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosVillanova’s Daniel Ochefu (23) reaches for a rebound as Ryan Arcidiacono (15) and Louisville’s Chane Behanan watch during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. Patterson, AP)

Joe AndruzziIn this Monday, April 15, 2013 photo, former New England Patriots player Joe Andruzzi carries a woman from the scene of two blasts at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Exeter Street in Boston. Jennings (43) for a 3-yard touchdown run in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. Louis Cardinals’ Kolten Wong on a pick-off attempt to end Game 4 of baseball’s World Series Sunday, Oct. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosJory Markiss of Longmont, Colo., flies off the bull Tapout during the seventh annual Professional Bull Riders Invitational finals rodeo at Madison Square Garden in New York, Sunday, Jan. (Eugene Hoshiko/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosNorth Carolina coach Roy Williams cheers on his team during the second half of a second-round game against Villanova in the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 22, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo. 4, 2013, in Atlanta. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosOndrej Rybin of the Czech Republic loses lycra from the seat of his shorts after a fall in the Men’s Omnium Elimination Race on day one of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup at Manchester Velodrome on November 1, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Bill Haber, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosTennessee’s Taber Spani, right, keeps the ball in play as she collides with Vanderbilt guard Kady Schrann, left, in the first half of an NCAA basketball game, Thursday, Jan. Endurance athlete Nyad launched another bid Saturday to set an open-water record by swimming from Havana to the Florida Keys without a protective shark cage. 8, 2013, in Philadelphia. Phillip / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosIn this photo taken with a fisheye lens, Boston Bruins’ Nathan Horton, left, celebrates a goal by Andrew Ference against Washington Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth (30) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Saturday, March 16, 2013. John’s forward Amir Garrett, top center, battles Georgetown players Otto Porter (22) and Jabril Trawick, behind, for a rebound during second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. (Matt Slocum, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosTo launch the release of Nitro Circus 3D : The Movie, available on DVD 25th March, Team Nitro Circus sets a Guinness World Record at 02 Arena on February 28, 2013 in London, England. North Carolina is scheduled to play Villanova Friday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosWest Virginia’ Ishmael Banks (34) reaches over the goal line for a touchdown after returning an interception 58-yards for the score during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Oklahoma State in Morgantown, W.Va., on Saturday, Sept. (Garry Jones/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosCincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (25) dives into the end zone past Green Bay Packers free safety M.D. (Stephen Haas / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosPatrick Bordeleau #58 of the Colorado Avalanche lands a punch on Brad Staubitz #25 of the Anaheim Ducks as they engage in a fight at the Pepsi Center on February 6, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. 3, 2013, in Seattle. 2, 2013 in Salt Lake City. 28, 2013. 24, 2013. 2, 2013, in New York. Manziel has been suspended for the first half of the team’s game for what the school said was an “inadvertent” violation of NCAA rules by signing autographs. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. (Matthias Schrader, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosJerome Coppel of France, left in red jersey, crashes during the fifth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 228.5 kilometers (142.8 miles) with start in Cagnes-sur-Mer and finish in Marseille, southern France, Wednesday July 3, 2013. 30, 2013. The Pacers defeated the Knicks 106-99 to win the series 4-2. 3, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. The bombs that ripped through the crowd at the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding more than 170, were fashioned out of pressure cookers and packed with metal shards, nails and ball bearings to inflict maximum carnage, a person briefed on the investigation said Tuesday. (Roman Koksarov / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosStanford wide receiver Jamal-Rashad Patterson, left, makes a catch against Wisconsin defensive back Shelton Johnson (24) during the first half of the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game, Tuesday, Jan. Watt (99) of the AFC pulls down New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) of the NFC after Pierre-Paul made an interception during the fourth quarter of the NFL Pro Bowl football game in Honolulu, Sunday, Jan. Figure Skating Championships at CenturyLink Center on January 24, 2013 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Julie Jacobson / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosWanderlei Silva, left, defeats Brian Stann by knockout in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC on FUEL TV event at Saitama Super Arena on March 3, 2013 in Saitama, Japan. (Victor R. Baylor is scheduled to play Louisville Sunday. 23, 2013, at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles GalaxyCARSON, CA – MAY 26: Robbie Rogers (L) #14 of Los Angeles Galaxy comes into the game for Juninho #19 in the second half against the Seattle Sounders FC at The Home Depot Center on May 26, 2013 in Carson, California. (Abner Kingman/America’s Cup Event Authority/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosSan Diego Padres shortstop Tyler Stubblefield misses a ground ball hit by Kansas City Royals’ Orlando Calixte for a double in the ninth inning in an exhibition spring training baseball game Friday, March 15, 2013, in Surprise, Ariz. (Colin E. (Kim Kim Foster-Tobin/The State/MCT/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosIn this photo provided by the America’s Cup Event Authority, Emirates Team New Zealand, left, nearly capsizes alongside Oracle Team USA, right, while heading for the windward marks during the eighth race of the America’s Cup sailing event Saturday, Sept. (L.G. figure skating championships in Omaha, Neb., Sunday, Jan. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosMichigan State guard Denzel Valentine (45) grabs a rebound over Valparaiso guard Matt Kenney (23) in the first half of a second-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament in Auburn Hills, Mich., Thursday March 21, 2013. Caivano / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosBelgium’s RSC Anderlecht coach John Van Den Brom, center, after winning the final soccer match of the Belgian League against SV Zulte Waregem at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium in Brussels, Sunday, May 19, 2013. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina looks back as home plate umpire Jim Joyce calls Boston Red Sox’s Jonny Gomes safe on a three-run double by Shane Victorino during the third inning of Game 6 of baseball’s World Series on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2013. (Elise Amendola, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosSerena Williams, of the U.S, celebrates as she defeats Russia’s Maria Sharapova during the Women’s final match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Saturday, June 8, 2013 in Paris. Terrill/AP)

Chris DavisAuburn cornerback Chris Davis (11) returns a missed field-goal attempt 109 yards to score the game-winning touchdown as time expired in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against No. (AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosSaudi Al-Hilal club player Nawaf Shaker celebrates after scoring a goal against Qatar’s Al-Rayyan club during their AFC Champions League football match in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. (Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosSan Jose Sharks center Tommy Wingels, right, is pressed up against the boards by Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek, of the Czech Republic, during the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, Jan. (Nati Harnik, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosIreland’s Emma Lunn dismounts as she competes on the balance beam during a qualification session at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2013. (Mark Humphrey, AP)

Chykie BrownBaltimore Ravens defensive back Chykie Brown (23) lays in the confetti after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. (Kathy Willens, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosKansas State quarterback Collin Klein (7) dives for a touchdown as Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (14) defends during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game, Thursday, Jan. 1 Alabama in Auburn, Ala., Saturday, Nov. (Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosJason Porplyzia of the Crows attempts to take a mark on the shoulders of Corey Enright of the Cats during the round two AFL NAB Cup match between the Geelong Cats and the Adelaide Crows at Simonds Stadium on March 2, 2013 in Geelong, Australia. The NFC beat the AFC 62-35. Williams won 6-4, 6-4. (Gerry Broome, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosBoston Red Sox right fielder Daniel Nava is unable to hold on to a fly ball from Kansas City Royals’ Brett Hayes in the eighth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, Aug. (Carlos Osorio/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosJamaica’s Usain Bolt (L) wins the100 metres final at the 2013 IAAF World Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on August 11, 2013 while a lightning strikes in the sky. 17, 2013. 21, 2013. (Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosParis Saint-Germain’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (C) kicks the ball to score during the French L1 football match Paris Saint Germain (PSG) against Bastia (SCB) on October 19, 2013 at the Parc des Princes in Paris. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosSeattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) pushes off of Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Michael Adams on a long run to set up a touchdown late in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. (Steve C. Hong / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosKyle Larson (32) goes into the catch fence as he collides with Justin Allgaier (31), Brian Scott (2), Parker Klingerman (77) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Cameron Spencer, Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosMeagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada skate during the gala exhibition on day three at the ISU GP 2013 Skate Canada International at Harbour Station on October 27, 2013 in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Wilson, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosDavid Villa of FC Barcelona duels for a high ball with Fabio Coentrao and Pepe (R) of Real Madrid CF during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona at Bernabeu on March 2, 2013 in Madrid, Spain. (Charlie Riedel / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosSan Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Brown, right, scores past Houston Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. At rear from left are Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury, Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/NASA)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosMatt Hopper of Quins is upended during the LV= Cup match between Harlequins and London Welsh at Twickenham Stoop on January 26, 2013 in London, England. 31, 2013, in College Station, Texas. The Brewers won 4-3. (Tyler Evert/AP)

Carlos Gomez, Ryan BraunMilwaukee Brewers’ Carlos Gomez ducks out of the way as teammate Ryan Braun (8) tries to dunk him with water after a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in Milwaukee. (Matt Slocum / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosA surfer takes part in the Arnette Punta Galea Big Wave World Tour, on January 28, 2013 in the Northern Spanish Basque town of Getxo. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

2013 US Open - Day 10NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 04: A general view of a women’s quarter final match between Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia on Day Ten at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 4, 2013 in New York City. 10, 2013. (Mark J. Louis Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran during the first inning of a baseball game, Saturday, April 20, 2013, in Philadelphia. Richardson for a shot during the first half of a third-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament Sunday, March 24, 2013, in Austin, Texas. 27, 2013. (Dave Martin/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosHa’Sean Clinton-Dix #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide intercepts a pass intended for DaVaris Daniels #10 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the third quarter of the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game at Sun Life Stadium on January 7, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. 1, 2013, in Pasadena, Calif. 22, 2013, in Philadelphia. Britt was unable to hold onto the ball and the pass was incomplete. 5, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Sanchez)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosAndreas Wank of Germany competes during the first round for the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup event of the 61st Four Hills ski jumping tournament at Bergisel-Stadion on January 4, 2013 in Innsbruck, Austria. Utah won 79-69. Hong, AP)

Best Sports Photos Of 2013Manchester United’s Dutch striker Robin van Persie (C) scores the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Swansea City and Manchester United at Liberty Stadium in Swansea, south Wales, on August 17, 2013. The race finishes in Santiago, Chile, on Jan. 2, 2013, in New Orleans. (Kevin C. (Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosIn this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 16 surfers took part during the five hours surf competition, riding 5 meters high waves. (Lars Baron, Bongarts / Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosAlabama’s Devonta Pollard falls onto Missouri’s Laurence Bowers as they scramble for a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. (Gerald Herbert / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosUtah’s Jason Washburn celebrates after blocking a shot by California in overtime during a Pac-12 men’s tournament NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, March 14, 2013, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, Bill Greene) MANDATORY CREDIT, BOSTON HERALD OUT, QUINCY OUT, NO SALES, MAGS OUT

Best 2013 Sports PhotosSebastian Vettel of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull Racing celebrates with his team after winning the Indian Formula One Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit on October 27, 2013 in Noida, India. Calif. (Jerome Prevost/L’Equipe/Pool/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosFloyd Mayweather Jr. 12, 2013. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosA ball boy chair hops over a flooded area between Grandstand and Louis Armstrong stadiums during a rain delay in the fourth round of the 2013 U.S. 27, 2013. 14, 2013, in Las Vegas. (Victor R. 20, 2013. (David Ramos / Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosTennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt (18) flips upside down after making a catch as he is defended by San Diego Chargers defensive back Jahleel Addae (37) in the second quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, in Cincinnati. 30, 2013, in Boston. (88) at the conclusion of the NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race Saturday, Feb. NO USE WITH UNAUTHORIZED AUDIO, VIDEO, DATA, FIXTURE LISTS, CLUB/LEAGUE LOGOS OR LIVE SERVICES. (Al Behrman/AP)

Diana NyadAP10ThingsToSee – U.S. (David J. (Clive Rose / Getty Images)

Johnny ManzielTexas AM’s Johnny Manziel, right, celebrates a touchdown by teammate Ben Malena (1) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Rice, Saturday, Aug. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosDuke fans yell as Clemson’s K.J. The Bruins won 4-1. 26, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. Pavlyuchenkova defeated Oprandi 0-6, 6-3, 6-1. LSU won 65-62. (Scott Barbour / Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosLos Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, is smacked on the head by Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith as he puts up a shot during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Alex Brandon / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosBaltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) is tackled by New England Patriots outside linebacker Jerod Mayo (51) during the second half of the NFL football AFC Championship football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Jan. 20. (AP Photo/Dominic Lipinski, PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUT NO SALES NO ARCHIVE

Best 2013 Sports PhotosPumas’ Luis Fuentes, top, heads the ball over Morelia’s Aldo Leao during a Mexican soccer league match in Mexico City, Sunday, Feb. == (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosNorth Carolina’s Dexter Strickland (1) and Reggie Bullock (35) stretch before practice for a second-round game of the NCAA college basketball tournament, Thursday, March 21, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo. 9, 2013, in San Diego. (Paul Sancya / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosIn this photo made with a fisheye lens, Kevin Harvick celebrates winning the Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race Saturday, April 27, 2013, at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va. (Jae C. Franklin, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosMatt Smith of Oldham Athletic scores his team’s second goal to make the score 2-2 during the FA Cup with Budweiser Fifth Round match between Oldham Athletic and Everton at Boundary Park on February 16, 2013 in Oldham, England. 22, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. The Red Sox won 4-2 to ties the series at 2-2. (Marco Garcia, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosOakland Athletics’ Eric Sogard gets a shaving cream pie in the face from Josh Reddick, rear, after Sogard scored the winning run on a sacrifice bunt from Coco Crisp during 10th inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday, April 28, 2013, in Oakland. swimmer Diana Nyad, 64, greets her support team before her swim to Florida from Havana, Cuba, Saturday, Aug. Oracle Team USA won the eighth race and the ninth race was called because of strong winds. 5, 2013. Pumas won 1-0. 6. Stanford defeated Texas AM 4-3. (Richard Lipski, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosSouth Carolina faces off against Mississippi State at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina, on Saturday, November 2, 2013. 7-10. Terrill, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosSerena Williams reacts after winning a point against Dominika Cibulkova, of Slovakia, during the Sony Open tennis tournament, Monday, March 25, 2013, in Key Biscayne, Fla. Louisville beat Eastern Kentucky 44-7. 27, 2013, in St. AFP PHOTO / LIONEL BONAVENTURE (Photo credit should read LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosUtah center Dallin Bachynski, left, and Colorado guard Askia Booker compete for a rebound in the first half during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. (Yves Logghe / AP)

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles LakersLOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 29: Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to someone in the crowd during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on October 29, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Gregory Bull / AP)

Florida State v ClemsonCLEMSON, SC – OCTOBER 19: Jameis Winston #5 of the Florida State Seminoles throws a pass as Vic Beasley #3 of the Clemson Tigers tries to stop him during their game at Memorial Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Clemson, South Carolina. (John Bazemore / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosFlorida linebacker Jon Bostic (1) hits Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) hard enough to dislodge his helmet in the first quarter of the Sugar Bowl NCAA college football game Wednesday, Jan. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosA spectator sits in a stairwell during a rain delay at the 2013 U.S. Villanova won 73-64. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Franciso 49ersSAN FRANCISCO, CA – JANUARY 12: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after running in a touchdown in the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Candlestick Park on January 12, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Matt York / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosWashington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos loses the ball as New York Yankees’ Eduardo Nunez slides safely into home with home plate umpire Adam Hamari looking on at right during the fourth inning of an exhibition baseball game at Nationals Park Friday, March 29, 2013, in Washington. (Darron Cummings / AP)

Cristiano RonaldoPortugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the 2-3 goal during the World Cup 2014 qualifying playoff second leg soccer match between Sweden and Portugal at Friends Arena in Stockholm, Tuesday, Nov. (Jared C. The event will take place until Sunday, Oct. (Rick Scuteri, AP)

DeSean JacksonPhiladelphia Eagles’ DeSean Jackson celebrates in the snow after a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. Georgetown won 68-56. Video streamed by the US space agency NASA showed Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazanskiy carrying the unlit Olympic torch, bobbing weightlessly at the end of a tether in a darkness dotted by stars. Caivano/AP)

 This screen image taken from NASA shows the Sochi Olympic torch being held during a spacewalk on Saturday, Nov. The solar challenge race, lasting for seven days, will take 43 participants over 3,021 kilometers before ending on Sunday, Oct 13. (Charlie Neibergall / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosBrazil’s Neymar celebrates scoring his side’s 2nd goal as Spain’s Iker Casillas, background, sits on the floor during the soccer Confederations Cup final between Brazil and Spain at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, June 30, 2013. (Mark J. (David J. The Galaxy defeated Sounders FC 4-0. Nematpour won the bout. (Christian Palma / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosFlorida guard Mike Rosario (3) reacts after being fouled by Alabama during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament, Saturday, March 16, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (Doug Pensinger, Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosAthletes start the New Zealand Ironman on March 2, 2013 in Taupo, New Zealand. (Anton Belitskiy/Kommersant/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosChicago Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya (27), of Sweden, hugs Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) after winning Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals 3-2 against the Boston Bruins, Monday, June 24, 2013, in Boston. (Phil Walter / Getty Images). Terrill / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosLos Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) passes the puck against the Phoenix Coyotes in the second period during an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. (Gregory Bull/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosEastern Kentucky’s Ja’Tyuan Landing, left, gets pushed out of bounds by Louisville linebacker George Durant (34) after making a pass catch in their NCAA college football game in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Sept. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosBoston Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli celebrates after tagging out St. Open tennis tournament, Monday, Sept. 21, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. Oklahoma State’s J.W. 24, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. Woods will compete in the USD7million Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya, Nov.

Best 2013 Sports PhotosSan Diego Padres’ Carlos Quentin charges into Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke after being hit by a pitch in the sixth inning of baseball game in San Diego, Thursday, April 11, 2013. 6, 2013. Walsh defends on the play. Oakland won 9-8. 8, 2013. Phillip/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosTatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, of Russia, compete in the pairs short program at the Skate America figure skating competition in Detroit, Saturday, Oct. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosMembers of the Tokyo 2020 delegation celebrate after Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympic Games during the 125th IOC session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, Sept. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (John Bazemore / AP)

Outback Bowl - South Carolina v MichiganTAMPA, FL – JANUARY 01: Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney #7 of the South Carolina Gamecocks stretches for a fourth-quarter fumble during a 33 – 28 victory against the Michigan Wolverines in the Outback Bowl January 1, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosMichigan guard Trey Burke (3) walks off the court as Louisville celebrate their win during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 8, 2013, in Atlanta. (Osama Faisal / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosThe shadow of a helicopter is projected over KTM rider Cyril Despres of France competes in the 12th stage of the 2013 Dakar Rally from Fiambala, Argentina, to Copiapo, Chile, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2013. The Sun won 77-70. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosLotus driver Kimi Raikkonen, left, of Finland, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, center, of Spain and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel of Germany celebrate on the podium after the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, March 17, 2013. Louis. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosA young fan with his face painted with the colors of Chile’s national flag gestures before the start of a 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Uruguay in Santiago, Chile, Tuesday, March 26, 2013. (Lynne Sladky / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosLewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP drives during the final practice session before qualifying for the Italian Formula One Grand Prix at Autodromo di Monza on September 7, 2013 in Monza, Italy. Caivano, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosHouston Texans defensive end J.J. (Jessica Hill/AP)

Roy Hibbert, New York KnicksIndiana Pacers’ Roy Hibbert (55) blocks the shot of New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony, right, during the second half of Game 6 of an Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series on Saturday, May 18, 2013, in Indianapolis. (Winslow Townson / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosLos Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, left, and forward Blake Griffin, right, playfully shine the head of forward Lamar Odom as they sit on the bench during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Saturday, Jan. Huh / AP)

 CORRECTS ID OF UMPIRE TO JIM JOYCE, INSTEAD OF ADAM WAINWRIGHT – St. McDaniels (32) inbounds the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Duke in Durham, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. ONLINE IN-MATCH USE LIMITED TO 45 IMAGES, NO VIDEO EMULATION. (Scott Heppell / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosRussia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova casts a shadow while serving to Switzerland’s Romina Oprandi during their Portugal Open semifinal tennis match Friday, May 3 2013, in Oeiras, outside Lisbon. (Rebecca Blackwell, AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosAustria’s Wolfgang Loitzl soars through the air during his competition jump of the third stage of the four hills ski jumping tournament during foggy weather in Innsbruck, Austria, Friday, Jan. (Andrew Brownbill / AP)

Kansas City Royals v Boston Red SoxBOSTON, MA – APRIL 20: David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox speaks during a pre-game ceremony in honor of the bombings of Marathon Monday before a game at Fenway Park on April 20, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. AFP PHOTO/IAN KINGTON == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. 4, 2013. (David Vincent/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosGolf star Tiger Woods of the United States makes a shot from East to West on the iconic Bosporus Bridge that separates the continents of Europe and Asia, in Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2013, in Columbia, Mo. (Sue Ogrocki / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosSunderland’s manager Paolo Di Canio, celebrates after Stephane Sessegnon scores his goal during their English Premier League soccer match against Newcastle United at St James’ Park, Newcastle, England, Sunday, April 14, 2013. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosAuburn forward Cabriana Capers (35) crashes into the scorer’s table after saving the ball from going out of bounds during the second half of their NCAA college basketball game against LSU in the Southeastern Conference tournament, Thursday, March 7, 2013, in Duluth, Ga. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosConnecticut Sun’s Renee Montgomery reacts during the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the Washington Mystics in Uncasville, Conn., Friday, Sept. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosFrance’s Renaud Lavillenie competes in the men’s pole vault final at the World Athletics Championships in the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Aug. (Jim Mone / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosPhiladelphia Phillies center fielder Ben Revere dives for a fly out by St. (Mark Zaleski/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosA worker grooms away tracks after an alligator crossed through a sand trap on the 14th hole during the first round of the PGA Tour Zurich Classic golf tournament at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, La., Thursday, April 25, 2013. Phillip/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosPablo Cesar Cano, right, lands a punch against Ashley Theophane in the eighth round during a welterweight fight, Saturday, Sept. (Darron Cummings / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosSt. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

 Horses make their way around turn one during the 139th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2013, in Louisville, Ky. 7, 2013. (Kathy Willens / AP)

Best Sports Photos Of 2013BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 13: Boston police officer Steve Horgan reacts as Torii Hunter #48 of the Detroit Tigers tries to catch a grand slam hit by David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox in the eighth inning of Game Two of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 13, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Open tennis tournament, Wednesday, Aug. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosWide receiver Devin Smith #9 of the Ohio State Buckeyes scores a touchdown in the first quarter as safety Josh Furman #14 of the Michigan Wolverines defends during a game at Michigan Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. lands a left jab against Robert Guerrero in the fourth round during a WBC welterweight title fight, Saturday, May 4, 2013, in Las Vegas. 28, 2013, in New York. 6, 2013. Missouri won 84-68. (Alex Livesey / Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosJonathan Cassar competes in the senior men’s free skate program at the U.S. 7, 2013. (Tibor Illyes/MTI/AP)

 Crowds greet Britain’s Andy Murray as he celebrates with the trophy on the balcony of Centre Court after winning the Men’s singles title on during day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon, London, Sunday July 7, 2013. (Victor R. 8, 2013, the Indupol One of the Belgian solar team leaves a control stop in Ti Tree, 191 kilometers North of Alice Springs, Australia. (Charlie Riedel / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosAlexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, of the United States, react as they watch their scores during the pairs free program at the World Figure Skating Championships Friday, March 15, 2013, in London, Ontario. (Jae C. 31, 2013. 23, 2013. (Terry Renna / AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosStanford players dump water over head coach Lele Forood’s head as she gives an interview to Dave Kozlowski in the NCAA division 1 women’s team tennis championship at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex Tuesday, May 21, 2013 on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana, Ill. Braley/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosMiami’s Kenny Kadji (35) tries to go over Illinois’ D.J. Louisville won 82-76. AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN

Best 2013 Sports PhotosRonda Rousey, left, tries to pull an armbar on Liz Carmouche during their UFC 157 women’s bantamweight championship mixed martial arts match in Anaheim, Calif., Saturday, Feb. (Armando Franca / AP)

Boston Red Sox Victory ParadeBOSTON, MA – NOVEMBER 02: The World Series trophy and the ‘Boston Strong 617′ jersey sit on the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street during the World Series victory parade on November 2, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Duke won 68-40. Raikonen won the race with Alonso second and Vettel third. (Matt King, Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosMinnesota Twins’ Brian Dozier, left, flips over after making a catch of a shallow fly ball off the bat of Los Angeles Angels’ Peter Bourjos as right fielder Chris Parmelee watches in the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, in Minneapolis. 19, 2013. Williams won 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. The Bulls won 95-94. The two gingerly maneuvered to take photos of the torch against the background of the planet, the orb’s edge glowing with sunrise. (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosNathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, of France, perform during a practice session for the World Figure Skating Championships, Tuesday, March 12, 2013, in London, Ontario. (Jim Cowsert/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosPhiladelphia Phillies center fielder Ben Revere makes a diving catch of Will Middlebrooks’s seventh-inning fly ball in a spring training baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Clearwater, Fla., Sunday, March 24, 2013. Rousey won the first women’s bout in UFC history, forcing Carmouche to tap out in the first round. (David Goldman/AP)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosCongo’s Yves Diba beats out Mali’s Samba Diakite for the ball during their African Cup of Nations Group B soccer match, in Durban, South Africa, Monday, Jan. (Lenny Ignelzi / AP)

Kaleena Mosqueda-LewisConnecticut forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (23) goes after a rebound during first half of the national championship game against Louisville at the women’s Final Four of the NCAA college basketball tournament, Tuesday, April 9, 2013, in New Orleans. (Ross D. (Nam Y. (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosBaylor’s Brittney Griner gestures as she answers a question during a news conference for a regional semifinal in the women’s NCAA college basketball tournament in Oklahoma City, Saturday, March 30, 2013. (Tom Shaw, Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosSweden’s skip Margaretha Sigfridsson shouts during her gold medal game against Scotland at the 2013 world women’s curling championship in Riga, Latvia, Sunday, March 24, 2013. (Rafa Rivas, AFP / Getty Images))

Russ Smit, Gorgui Dieng, Chane BehananLouisville’s Russ Smith (2), Gorgui Dieng (10) and Chane Behanan react to guard Kevin Ware’s injury during the first half of the Midwest Regional final against Duke in the NCAA college basketball tournament, Sunday, March 31, 2013, in Indianapolis. (Vladimir Rys Photography/Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosAtlanta Braves’ Chris Johnson hits a broken-bat single against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the seventh inning of Game 2 of the National League division series on Friday, Oct. (Cameron Spencer, Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosAndy Jones of the United States competes during the Red Bull Cliff Diving qualifying round in the Hawkesbury River on January 31, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. 2, 2013, in Washington. Cox, Getty Images)

Best 2013 Sports PhotosThe Bungan suf life saving crew lose control of their boat during the Ocean Thunder Surf Boat Series at Dee Why Beach on February 2, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. NO USE IN BETTING, GAMES OR SINGLE CLUB/LEAGUE/PLAYER PUBLICATIONS

WTF Was That?: New David Hasselhoff Music Video

Keep going for the video, David Hasselhoff riding a t-rex at the very end.

WTF Was That?: New David Hasselhoff Music Video | Geekologie

WTF Was That?: New David Hasselhoff Music VideoApril 17, 2015incelebrities, fighting, fire, just try to pack as much as the 80′s into one music video as you can, movies, music video, oh wow, sick graphics, so that’s that, special effects, the 80′s, video, what country is it again that loves david hasselhoff so much?, wtf did i just watch?, wtf was thatFacebookTwitterGoogle+

david-hasselhoff-music-video.jpg

This is the 80′s style music video for David Hasselhoff’s new song ‘True Survivor’, the theme to the crowdfunded film ‘Kung Fury’.The song is pretty awful, but the music video — the music video was decent.It’s got everything: dinosaurs, fire, sick graphics, more fire, future vikings, even more fire, dudes with masks and chains, a dude with a Power Glove, a Lamborghini Countach, some guy Kung-Fu fighting Nazis’ faces off and MORE.You know, not to brag or anything, but I was in a music video once.Just kidding, but I did shoot a solo adult movie scene.Guess how many views I’ve got on P0rnhub.”Zero?”Not a single one.They said if I want to keep the clip up I’m gonna have to start paying them.

Thanks to Kirikou and Lydia, who were more than a little disappointed the video didn’t feature any drunken cheeseburger eating.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+

Summary, Analysis, and Talking Points

It feels weird to even be considering the English team for any award consisting of the words ‘the best’, but the move that led to Daniel Sturridge’s equalizing goal against Italy is worth putting on this list just because it was so unlike what we expect from England. Iran’s Alireza Haghighi also ran Argentina close, but he was also aided by a completely defensive setup, something Nigeria markedly lacked.

And yet, before anyone, including the Brazilian defenders, had had time to gather their wits and exclaim at what was happening, the hosts were being shredded to bits in a way they had never experienced. While Yohan Cabaye is that rarest of creative midfielders with the tenacity and defensive discipline to sit back in front of the back four (take note, Steven Gerrard and Beard), Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi have been running marathons for a while now. Alireza Haghighi, Jalal Hosseini, Amir Hossein Sadeghi, Pejman Montazeri, and Mehrdad Pooladi are not exactly members of soccer’s Hall of Fame, but they were responsible for one of the most determined, well-drilled, and resilient defensive performances seen at this World Cup tournament. The Brazilian league is in terrible condition at present, and could badly use a cash inflow and a well-regulated football calendar instead of the confusing jumble of state and central league matches.

Tim Cahill’s over-the-shoulder volley against the Dutch comes in a very close second. Also, Julio Cesar haplessly gave up on Schurrle’s shot, which could and would have been saved if the match had been more competitive, while Thibaut Courtois was fully alert in the Belgian goal.

Didier Deschamps and Karim Benzema will be thanking their stars that FIFA finally decided to choose precision over tradition this time. As the match went into extra time, there was only one possible outcome: penalty shootouts. Jurgen Klinsmann and current coach Joachim Löw have persisted with a brand of football relatively novel to Germany, and were rewarded with consecutive semifinal appearances in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and the 2008 and 2012 Euro Championships. This team, coached by former German striker Jürgen Klinsmann, has turned the basketball-baseball-hockey obsessed USA into soccer fans, summed up by the now-famous photo of US President Barack Obama watching the team’s defeat to Germany aboard Air Force One. However, the crowning glory of this generation of talented individuals came in the 2014 World Cup, with Germany’s conspicuous absence of a ‘star player’ being in stark contrast to its run to the final in 2002.

Jorge Luis Pinto is the undoubted choice for the best manager of the second week of the World Cup. But like I said, we have been spoiled by the continual magnificence of the imperious Pirlo and his beard, and we have come to expect these things from him.

What nobody expected to see was England attacking like they did. First coming in against Belgium in the quarterfinals, Demichelis’ calming influence made the side much more balanced. Müller is seemingly on a mission to overtake Klose as quickly as he can, considering the Bayern Munich forward’s strike rate in World Cup games. It’s only slightly ironic, though, that his anonymity during the World Cup has now led to him seeking it after it.

It is ridiculously close between the goalkeepers of the two finalists, Manuel Neuer and Sergio Romero. With youthful talents such as Paul Pogba, Rafael Varane, and Mamadou Sakho coming to the fore in this World Cup, the future seems to be bright for Les Bleus.

It’s tempting to rank Messi’s delicious free kick, or Fred’s offside goal just because of the identity of the scorer (poor Fred is this close to becoming the new Wayne Rooney in the world’s eyes). With time running out on Switzerland’s World Cup dream, D?emaili connected with a free kick, but the ball crashed onto the post from six yards out. But Argentina’s porous defense has been a constant source of problems for the team, with even lowly Iran coming close to causing an upset and Nigeria matching them blow-for-blow. Most players would have taken a touch to set themselves up for the shot, but Higuain took a swipe at it from just outside the penalty area, connecting perfectly. Uruguay continued to build pressure on the Italians, and the goal eventually arrived in the 81st minute in slightly lucky fashion, captain Diego Godin directing the ball goalwards from a corner with the back of his head.

Week 3

Arjen Robben

Right Winger

Netherlands

The Best Goal

Without any doubt, Sergio Romero’s dive to his right to keep out Wesley Sneijder’s powerfully struck penalty wins out this week. The recipient of the Golden Ball award, Messi will look upon this World Cup as a missed opportunity, when he so nearly ascended the pedestal to Maradona’s celestial place in Argentine hearts, but slipped and fell at the last step.

In last year’s Confederations Cup, the at-times-breathtaking interplay between Brazil’s front four, Fred, Neymar, Hulk, and Oscar, was instrumental in their eventual victory in the tournament. Ángel di María had had a tiring afternoon with little to show for it, but with a stroke of Messi’s left foot, he had the chance to make the day memorable. The end had begun for the all-conquering Spanish side.

Week 4

Total Attendance

The Best Goal

Stalwarts such as Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas, Brazil’s captain Thiago Silva, Germany’s metronomic Bastian Schweinsteiger, Colombia’s assist-king Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, and Toni Kroos, miss out due to the astonishing collection of talent in the World Cup.

Player of the Tournament

Brazil Found Wanting Again

Andrea Pirlo

Center Mid

Italy

Guillermo Ochoa

Goalkeeper

Country: Mexico

Robben went close with a shot that the tigerish Mascherano did ever so well to block, and Gonzalo Higuain in particular was denied several times by the Dutch defenders. With this victory, Germany moved level with Italy on 4 championship wins, and now only trail Brazil, who have 5.

Pablo Zabaleta

Right Back

Argentina

Italy Right to Feel Aggrieved

Didier Deschamps is not the biggest name in the managerial pantheon in the World Cup, but his tactical understanding of the game has been crucial for France thus far. The dismissal ruined Italy’s plans, and their nervousness started to show. He wasn’t, and not entirely.

German football reached its nadir at the 2000 UEFA Euro Championships, when the defending champions returned home without winning a single game. Who had thought England would be one of the better teams to watch in the World Cup? Better yet, who knew Roy Hodgson had been taking secret tuitions from Brendan Rodgers, Roberto Martinez, and Arsene Wenger on the art of not caring about the defensive side of the game? May the exuberance continue!

Group GName

Played

Points

GD

Germany

3

7

+5

USA

3

4

0

Portugal

3

4

-3

Ghana

3

1

-2

Lionel Messi

Striker

Argentina

Robin van Persie’s Superman header simply has no rival, especially considering the momentous occasion and the effect the goal had on the outcome of the game.

When Daley Blind prepared to send a diagonal ball from close to the left byline and just inside the Spanish half, the Spanish central defensive pair was busy thinking they were operating an offside trap, some fifteen yards in front of the Spanish penalty area, for the Dutch captain Robin van Persie. The shootout was finely poised, even after Romero’s earlier save off Ron Vlaar, and Sneijder was one of the stars of the Dutch squad, and was expected to score. There may not be another goalkeeper in the world who’s better than Neuer at playing this keeper-sweeper role, but it could blow up in Joachim Löw’s face against the speedy and technically proficient French attackers.

Yes, we know FIFA wants to cut down on the number of cards shown in a game, because it wants to reduce the stoppages. Aided by an unsighted assist from club captain Steven Gerrard (who may have mistakenly thought he was playing in Liverpool colors, given the dominance of Liverpool in the England squad), Suárez scored two in his first match after a major knee operation that had literally put him in a wheelchair about a month ago. Filled with top-tier talent to the brim, the rather crude, route-one tactics employed by Belgium coach Marc Wilmots had come under the scanner. But having said that, oh, the brilliance of that dummy! You could watch it over and over again, masticating over the subtleties of Pirlo’s inscrutable expression (and the un-ruffle-able beard). Brazil, in particular, could do much worse than a revamp of its oft-criticized league system and politically influenced football hierarchy. But since Spain model their play on Barcelona, fielding a player used to a completely different style of football at Atletico Madrid was always risky. Rodriguez found him with a typically slide-rule pass just inside the Japanese penalty area. Fred was mercifully spared the boos of the home crowd due to him being on the bench, but he will remember this tournament as…oh, let it go, we don’t like to kick a fallen man. Lukaku, who had been off form leading up to the game against the USA, replaced the tireless Divock Origi at the start of extra time, and turned the match by first setting up De Bruyne for the opener and then scoring what turned out to be the winner.

Huntelaar was seemingly unusable in Holland’s system of quick counterattacks. This was in stark contrast to the other three semifinalists, all of whom relied on technical maestros (Neymar for Brazil, Messi for Argentina, Robben for Netherlands) for their attacking impetus. It is a close tussle between Louis van Gaal and Pinto for the title of the ‘Manager of the World Cup’ so far.

Niko Kovac, with his refreshingly straight and honest talk gets an honorable mention, while Jürgen Klinsmann has done an excellent job with a frankly mediocre USA squad. And if you didn’t watch either of the games, no, that was not a misprint. He missed the Suárez incident, and more importantly, refused to acknowledge the teeth marks on Chiellini’s shoulder; Marchisio, of course, didn’t deserve red; Edinson Cavani also had a legitimate claim to a penalty obstinately turned down.

The match will rank alongside the opening Brazil-Croatia game as one of the worst officiated, and Rodríguez doesn’t even have the excuse of the pressures of the opening match in front of the raucous Brazil fans.

Player of the Week

Dirk Kuyt

Left Back

Netherlands

James Rodriguez

Center Mid

Colombia

Javier Mascherano

Center Mid

Argentina

Group CName

Played

Points

GD

Colombia

3

9

+7

Greece

3

4

-2

Ivory Coast

3

3

-1

Japan

3

1

-4

Group FName

Played

Points

GD

Argentina

3

9

+3

Nigeria

3

4

0

Bosnia-Herzegovina

3

3

0

Iran

3

1

-3

Golden Boot

Messi Spares Argentine Blushes

In an action-filled World Cup tournament, there are numerous candidates for this one. Regardless of the laziness in his performance and the well-deserved criticism he has attracted due to that, the cross from Rooney-delivered by his weaker left foot, lest we forget-was absolutely gorgeous.

Like the best goal, there are countless worthy candidates for this one. Did the deserving country win? Do you agree with the choice of the tournament awards? What was your best XI?

Week 5

A Semifinal Worthy of the Name

Mascherano Towering Above All Others

Here’s a dissection of some of the most interesting tactics and strategies seen in this World Cup. 171 goals were scored in the tournament, tying with the 1998 World Cup held in France.

When the group draws were announced, Group D, consisting of three former world champions, and Group G, consisting of fairly well-matched teams below the tournament favorites Germany, were considered the two Groups of Death. While Fernandinho was magnificent alongside Yaya Toure in Manchester City’s title-winning run in 2013-14, he couldn’t strike up an understanding with Gustavo, Paulinho, or Oscar. It’s fair to say that these two groups have given some of the most incident-filled and lively games in this tournament.

The ‘clash of kings’ in Group D threw up a huge surprise when Costa Rica, coached by the professor-like Jorge Luis Pinto, beat two former world champions in enthralling fashion and easily held the third (to be fair, it was only England) at bay to secure top spot, while Ghana’s 2-2 draw with Germany had one of the best second halves the World Cup has ever offered. Unlike the last round, where substitute Tim Krul broke Costa Rican hearts, Van Gaal was forced to use up his three subs by replacing the fading Robin van Persie with the hero of the Round of 16 match against Mexico, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Oscar is the only one of that quartet to have played well in both of Brazil’s games, effortlessly switching between the central playmaker role and the right wing, and marrying his devastating talent to a hard work ethic.

This was particularly obvious against Mexico, where the fearsome-on-paper Brazil attack lacked any direction against a team whose qualification campaign for the main tournament can only be called a miracle. Costa’s Madrid, meanwhile, had just conquered Spain with a brand of football focused on quick breaks and gegenpressing. There is actually a valid case of the celebration of the goal being more entertaining than the goal itself, but the goal still wins out as the best goal of the tournament.. Chile were always threatening on the break, while Brazil couldn’t fashion clear opportunities. Brazil once again needed some Neymar Magic to get back on track, which they eventually did. The Swiss and their outgoing manager, Ottmar Hitzfeld, must have thought they had totally negated Messi’s influence on the game with a double-marking system being applied whenever he got on the ball. However, these warning signs were not heeded, and Vicente del Bosque led out a squad that was as predictable as the weather forecast in Britain.

Oscar

Center Mid

Brazil

The 2014 World Cup saw the emergence of several well-drilled, well-coached teams that were also easy on the eye; the always-running Forrest Gumps of Chile and Costa Rica immediately spring to mind.

Sadly, though, this tournament has also been the perfect stage to illustrate that football is also cruel. Though Neymar’s injury gained more notoriety, the tackle that caused it was relatively tame in comparison to most other tackles in the game.

The Overachievers of 2014

FIFA World Cup 2014: Cliff Notes

Group HName

Played

Points

GD

Belgium

3

9

+3

Algeria

3

4

+1

Russia

3

2

-1

South Korea

3

1

-3

Germany (4th title)

While the choice of FIFA’s technical committee was Lionel Messi, yours truly would award the Golden Ball to Colombia’s James Rodriguez. Deftly skipping a challenge where almost everybody else would have gone down, Messi advanced into the danger zone, drawing defenders with him. Also, this World Cup is also among the highest for the number of matches where both teams have scored a goal, deviating from the one-sided beatings we sometimes suffer through.

The Best of the Week

Lionel Messi

Striker

Argentina

But such is the nature of the knockout rounds, and it is part of what makes this quadrennial football extravaganza the cynosure of all eyes around the world.

Sofiane Feghouli

Center Mid

Algeria

Without Neymar to bail them out of tough spots, Brazil folded their World Cup campaign with two straight losses and now hold the unwanted record of having conceded the most goals by a host nation ever-14. Deschamps even went to the extreme measure of not picking potential troublemaker Samir Nasri in the World Cup squad, and few except those in Nasri’s closest circle are complaining. Huntelaar, like Lukaku, first set up Holland’s equalizer with a headed assist for Wesley Sneijder, and then scored the winner from a contested but correct penalty awarded after tricky winger Arjen Robben was fouled in the penalty area.

Keylor Navas was spectacular in the Costa Rican goal, and seems to be heading to Bayern as competition to the Golden Glove winner, but Neuer’s influence on this German side can’t be overstated. Unfortunately, the suppressed edge to his character rose through in Uruguay’s key match against Italy. Though it wasn’t exactly ‘Dream Team’ stuff, the attack-and-defense drill against a curiously defensive USA went quite well for the Belgians, and the fans got a glimpse of exactly why this team is favored by so many analysts and experts. A bigger surprise was that he missed, and an even bigger surprise came when Mathieu Valbuena scuffed the rebound on to the post.

Benzema’s weak and low penalty had been blocked by the Swiss keeper Diego Benaglio, and the rebound went to the left side of the Swiss penalty area. Argentina, who scored all of their penalties, advanced to the final thanks to Romero.

The Best Move

If entire matches can be considered, Iker Casillas’ performance against the Netherlands undoubtedly wins the gong. Still, the Africans were able to equalize against the five-time champions, albeit with the help of an unfortunate deflection off Dani Alves. Yes, we know showing cards and sending off players can kill a contest. The usually-excellent Kroos had one terrible moment of weakness in the Final, and he could and should have paid a dear price for it. No, seriously!

Honduras Need to Toughen Up…

… Kovac maintained that though Mexico’s performances in the tournament had been impressive, Croatia’s creative talent would find a way past them. However, while Costa Rica soldier on, all the rest have bitten the dust thanks to cruel circumstances or the lack of talent to complement the often-perfect tactics.

We all laughed at David Moyes when Manchester United launched an epic 81 crosses in an EPL match against Fulham. If this is a half-fit Suárez, Liverpool (or possibly Barcelona, going by the transfer rumors) fans will be looking forward to his return from the four-month ban with bated breath.

Lionel Messi was the lone shining light for Argentina in both of their victories in Week 2, scoring a late, late goal to break Iran’s dogged spirit and then scoring two sumptuous goals against Nigeria. James Rodriguez, meanwhile, knows no limits, as he became the first player since the great Jairzinho to score in his first five games at a World Cup tournament. Even a dizzying clash of heads, which nearly saw him lose consciousness on the field, couldn’t shake him off. You are in full view of the referee. Their coach, Jorge Luis Pinto, will, no doubt, be serenaded by various European clubs, but as long as they maintain their ethos, this group of Costa Rican players could go on to pull off quite a few surprises.

Yuichi Nishimura Has a Playmate in Infamy

Player of the Week

Mats Hummels

Center Back

Germany

Seriously, they have all been used. The albiceleste fans, so joyously reveling in taunting Brazil over their semifinal humiliation, were themselves undone by an excellent German unit.

Argentina hacked him, slashed him, kicked him, and he then almost shot himself in the foot by overextending his knees-both of them, unbelievably. It’s a cliche to say that it would have been easier to score, but it would have been easier to score! There went the last hope for the formerly world beating Spanish.

The decision to persuade Diego Costa to abandon his Brazilian roots and play for his adopted country seemed a stroke of brilliance, as he would offer Spain an alternative route against defensively set teams. After taking the lead via a fortuitous combination of Gonzalo Jara and David Luiz (‘s T-shirt), they were immediately pegged back by a defensive lapse, which allowed Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez to draw them level. In a tournament in which substitutes have had a major role to play, these were arguably two of the most inspired. Pepe’s part in the whole drama will be elaborated upon (with a lot of pointing and laughing), but it must be said that the headbutt was, in itself, not at all a bruising contact. The ban doesn’t extend to transfers, though, which should send the transfer rumor mills into overdrive.

Blaise Matuidi

Center Mid

France

3,429,873 (53,592 PG)

Week 1

Disclaimer: Content written under the title of any given week has been written before the events of the next week.

England Can Play Rather Well

Cesare Prandelli had an adaptable (Mario Balotelli, notably, showing off his mastery of the high jump while playing a different sport), tactically astute, and successful group of players at his disposal at the World Cup, and, though unfortunate, the exit will register as a disappointment.

Worst Howler

The most fascinating story in the first week of the World Cup, both for its value as a marketing tool for media outlets and as something for the football nerds to ruminate upon, is the utter destruction of the defending champions Spain.

Countless football experts had pointed out before the World Cup that the heart of the Spanish machine, which had won the Euro 2008 and 2012, with the World Cup 2010 sandwiched in between, was aging and replacements hadn’t been groomed in the national team. In the end, the lottery of the shootout (and cruel, cruel Tim Krul) denied them a dream ride into the semis. The defense was the toughest section to fill, and hopefully the bar will be raised in week 2.

Luis Suárez

Striker

Uruguay

Although Italy have a case to claim that Marchisio’s red card was harsh, the fact was that Marco Rodríguez was just plain awful, and certainly not biased, in the match. The ever-quotable Croatian coach Niko Kovac dared to claim in his press conference that his team was confident of beating Mexico.

No, that is really all that happened, but you wouldn’t think so, with headlines such as Croatia “talking a ton of trash” being published in response. While the shot was impressive, it was directed very close to Muslera, and could have been saved had the Uruguayan held a better position. Jermaine Jones scored only his third international goal with a piledriver against Portugal, while James Rodriguez scored a scorcher of a volley against Uruguay.

The winner, though, came from the right foot of the second most (behind Dani Alves) absent-minded defender in Brazilian football, David Luiz. Alejandro Sabella, on the other hand, must have been taking copious notes.

Switzerland’s compact defensive shape was so well-maintained in their match against Argentina that the two-time world champions resorted to putting in 53 crosses into the Swiss box. Halliche was instrumental in coordinating the Algerian defense against overwhelming favorites Germany. Garay grew into the tournament as Argentina progressed, and, especially when paired with Martin Demichelis, looked like a top notch defender. Casillas’ horror show against the Netherlands was an endless series of errors, Sergio Busquets somehow managed to miss an open goal from 3 yards out against Chile, Igor Akinfeev’s many errors have become notorious, Josip Durmic had a brain freeze as he approached Sergio Romero and tried to chip the goalkeeper even before he had started to go down, Thiago Silva’s yellow card-worthy foul on David Ospina was just plain stupid, and PSG’s off-field decision to pay an eye-watering 50 million GBP-no typo there, I promise-for David Lulz-sorry, Luiz-is a humdinger.

But considering its direct impact on the championship deciding game, Gonzalo Higuain’s miss from Toni Kroos’ unwittingly perfect pass to the Napoli striker will undoubtedly go down as one of the worst howlers in the World Cup. Luckily for him, the miss didn’t come back to haunt him, as Argentina prevailed in the subsequent shootout.

While we are on the subject of Palacio, is his hairstyle a candidate?

Robin van Persie

Striker

Netherlands

Thomas Müller

Striker

Germany

The Bastian Stands Unconquered

Thomas Müller

Striker

Germany

171 (2.67 PG)

Messi was the shining light for the runners up Argentina, having a hand in all but one of their goals in the group stage, and then laying on an assist for Angel di Maria in the Round of 16 match against Switzerland. James Rodriguez wasn’t exactly in the footballing wilderness before this tournament, but playing in the Portuguese and French leagues is miles behind the World Cup as long as exposure is concerned; he is now an established global star. Trying to reclaim the ball after a clumsy first touch, Marchisio barged into the knee of Uruguayan midfielder Egidio Arévalo, and was shown a straight red card by the flaky Mexican referee Marco Rodríguez. The penalty was well struck, unlike those saved by Júlio César in Brazil’s defeat of Chile. This team has now found a wonderful balance between attack and defense, knowing just when and how to go all-out and when to fall back on German football’s genetic memory and keep infuriating the football purists.

The defeat of Brazil was notable for its virtually complete absence of technically proficient ‘wunderkids’ going on solo runs. The game-changing moment came from an error by Stephan Lichtsteiner, who was being weirdly possessive of the ball while still in his own half, but the run that led to the goal was pure Messi magic. Click on the respective week to read about the matches in that week.

Week 1

Biting and the subsequent ban aside, Suárez’s return from injury was spectacular. Hummels’ two crucial goals complemented his impressive defending through the tournament. Moussa Dembele was immense for Belgium particularly in their game against South Korea, where they went one man down but still managed to win 1-0.

The German manager spoke after the Final about how this victory was the result of a decade of hard work and organization. With the progressive, all-action style enforced by the Merseyside contingent in vogue at the moment, Rooney needs a performance of a lifetime to remain in the good books of the English fans and media.

The Netherlands, coached by the adaptable and pragmatic Louis van Gaal, set out to deny Spain any time on the ball, and employed a three-man central defense aided by two energetic wingbacks as well as two holding midfielders. Having never progressed to the knockout rounds of the World Cup before 2014, los Cafeteros are now in uncharted waters, and in James Rodriguez they have just the captain they would have asked for.

Tim Howard, who was absolutely irreplaceable for the USA against Belgium, gets a very honorable mention, as does fellow goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who is adding to his transfer value with every passing game.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is now concluded. Also, the famous ‘tiki-taka’ strategy of Spain was becoming boringly predictable. Sofiane Feghouli was heavily involved in the goal, dribbling almost from the halfway line to the right side of the Korean penalty area. With the newfound liking to the game (albeit many Americans are still confused by the intricacies of the game), allied with new star entries into the cash-rich MLS, maybe there is a bright future for soccer in the USA after all.

A Litany of Heartbreaks

The Best Goal

Best World Cup Ever?

The Nigeria game was all about the two M’s: Messi for Argentina and Musa for Nigeria. Jasper Cillessen couldn’t replicate Krul’s heroics, and Sergio Romero became the darling of Argentina with a couple of penalty saves.

The Belgian golden generation competing in the 2014 World Cup, spearheaded by stars such as such as Vincent Kompany, Eden Hazard, Jan Vertonghen, and Thibaut Courtois, was talked about so frequently and loudly in the international sports media that they completely lost their ‘dark horse’ tag. While the arrogance was great to see in a coach, the media was quick to jump on it and create what was described by ESPN as a ‘minor tempest’.

Like France, Colombia’s supremacy in Group C has not been challenged at any point, and the team has coped with the absence of Radamel Falcao in style. The save was the second of a double save, having already blocked a cross-shot from Luis Suárez.

The Best Move

Manuel Neuer

Goalkeeper

Country: Germany

Week 2

You can’t leave out a man who has just become the all-time top scorer in the history of the World Cup. Local boy Bernard ran his heart out to salvage something from the game, but it was too little (almost literally, considering Bernard’s minuscule stature) too late.

While it was unfair to boo Fred for the horror that was unfolding at the other end of the pitch, it is fair to say that he has been the most disappointing of the weakest Brazil squad in decades. Since that incident, though, he had been an absolute good boy, not giving the notorious English press any chance to hound him like before. After all, this was a match where the two teams had won 8 FIFA World Cups in total-a record for an international game-and one of the two had been undefeated at home for 62 matches, in a scarcely believable streak dating back to a 3-1 loss to Peru in the 1975 Copa America.

Team of the Tournament

Germany are blessed to have the likes of Julian Draxler, André Schürrle, and Lukas Podolski on the bench, but the creative spark that made this team a joy to watch before the tournament has been missing. Should that travesty occur, though, the protesters will have the easy option of pointing to the Amazon Arena in Manaus.

When Switzerland’s match against Honduras was completed at about 6 pm local time on June 25, a grand total of five games had been played at the Amazon Arena, one of them being the meaningless opening game. With Angel di Maria out of the game due to an injury sustained against Belgium, Enzo Perez and Ezequiel Lavezzi were Argentina’s most effective attacking outlets, smartly exploiting Daley Blind’s lack of outright speed. They had turned a group of technically proficient players with little physicality into world beaters. The “typically German” style of results-oriented, rough football was replaced by a more technical, more attractive philosophy. They hadn’t been able to impose themselves on the game for any of their World Cup matches, and their victories in the group stage could be very easily attributed to them simply having more talented players than their opponents.

Their first knockout round must have gone some way in dispelling that predisposition. And the glorious late free kick that Joe Hart so nearly caught. Coming into the tournament, this Argentina side was described by many (including yours truly) as a top-heavy side with a nonexistent defense. To add insult to insult, the ball hit D?emaili again, before petering out agonizingly close to the Argentine goal.

Team of the Week

One of the bigger stories before the World Cup began was the allegiance of then-Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa. Their group stage performances played up to that hype, with Nigeria exploiting the defensive instability, and Iran coming very close on their numerous counterattacks.

However, the introduction of Martin Demichelis changed this equation. Dani Alves’ cross was accurate, Neymar’s leap perfectly timed, the goal seemingly inevitable. Ron Vlaar has been an absolute rock for the Netherlands in the tournament, and was instrumental in keeping out Messi, Higuain, and Aguero in the semifinal. Mexico’s Miguel Herrera has also been spot-on with his tactics, and he also wins the award for the ‘Most Watchable Person in Brazil’ thanks to his now-famous exuberant reactions to his team’s performance on the field.

Best Move

It’s tempting to put either Clark Ke-sorry-Van Persie or Tim Cahill on this pedestal, but since both goals were scored largely through individual brilliance, we have to look elsewhere. However, alternative options such as Manchester United’s David de Gea and Napoli’s (on loan from Liverpool) Pepe Reina (Victor Valdes being injured and Lopez, weirdly, never really being in the picture) weren’t tried out in friendlies, and were denied a chance to play in the World Cup. The absence of the suspended captain Thiago Silva was used as an excuse for the humbling 7-1 defeat against Germany, but the return of the PSG skipper hardly made Brazil invulnerable. Messi’s first goal was a masterclass of a slightly nerdy variety; most players would have overhit their shot from the position he was in, and the technique to do what he did is quite difficult. De Vrij was excellent apart from a rash (and dubious) penalty. Once it became obvious that the Benzema-Giroud combination had failed to carry on their understanding developed during the group stage, Deschamps was quick to bring off the misfiring Arsenal striker Giroud for Antoine Griezmann. Didier Deschamps, ridiculed by Eric Cantona as a ‘water carrier’ due to his unglamorous role in the team, has instilled real team spirit in the French unit, trying their best to move on from the disgraceful player revolt in 2010. Even Germany’s winning goal in the Final came from a simple floated cross, with Götze’s clever movement getting him away from the hulking Demichelis, who misjudged the trajectory of the cross. Yet it was Schweinsteiger who stood tall for the Germans in the end, proudly sporting the gash in his right cheek as he held aloft the World Cup trophy.

‘Schweini’ is many fans’ choice for the best player of the tournament, and it is hard to imagine why not. This may sound weird to amateur followers of the English Premier League, but Demichelis is actually an excellent defender, his early struggles at Manchester City notwithstanding. France’s second goal against Honduras was the first to be decided by goal line technology (discounting, of course, the countless goals that were miles inside the goal but were still pointlessly and annoyingly replayed on the screens), and would almost certainly have not been given through traditional refereeing. Dante was supposed to be a dark horse, considering his knowledge of his German clubmates at Bayern Munich, but his unfamiliar partnership with David Luiz failed to thwart the German blitzkrieg, and he was completely overrun by Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Lahm, Müller, and co. The ban will most probably be appealed by Liverpool, who have a fair case of being the unfortunate victims of an action in which they had no part to play, but Suárez will still miss the opening of the league season. Khedira scored a goal, and Kroos grabbed a quickfire brace. Spurred by the humiliation, Germany undertook a campaign to improve its efforts to improve the youth game, to safeguard the future. If Sabella continues with this formation in the rest of the tournament (and he should), it would be interesting to see how the attack-heavy formation would fare in the knockout rounds.

James Rodriguez

Center Mid

Colombia

Hulk

Left Mid

Brazil

Karim Benzema

Striker

France

James Rodriguez (Colombia, 6 goals)

German Decade of Labor Pays Off

Mats Hummels

Center Back

Germany

Sami Khedira

Center Mid

Germany

It’s not my fault that Neymar is classified as a midfielder instead of a forward, so he firmly stays in this section. But Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo took things to an extreme by choosing to keep his cards firmly in his pockets for 64 minutes of the abrasive quarterfinal encounter between Brazil and Colombia. However, banishing the memories of Brazil’s equivalent of Hiroshima by providing an even more shocking defeat wasn’t exactly the plan.

Lionel Messi came close, but the ingenious James Rodriguez takes home the prize this week. However, with the chips down and the Dutch laying siege to the Mexican penalty area, coach Louis van Gaal turned to the ‘Hunter’. Presumably trying to nod the ball back to his goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, Kroos didn’t realize that Gonzalo Higuain was returning from an offside position, and unknowingly teed up a golden chance for the Argentine number 9, who already was behind the German defensive line. The one time he was able to utilize the space in front of him, he sparked into life and provided the moment of magic for the game’s only goal.

Marcos Rojo

Center Back

Argentina

Week 3

Philipp Lahm

Right Back

Germany

Lahm has been influential in this German team, whether it be as a deep-lying midfielder or as a right wingback. For all the descriptions of the German team as ‘the machine’, it’s the Dutch who have come the closest to that epithet in this year’s showpiece. Wilson Palacios, meanwhile, is still trying to come to terms with the revelation that the weird round ball is actually the thing that’s supposed to be kicked.

Week 2

Di Maria and James Rodriguez were the heroes of the Round of 16, scoring vital goals for their country. Another misfiring team, Argentina, await in the quarterfinals.

After the utterly unprecedented mauling in the first semifinal, a tight, tense affair was expected in the second one, and Argentina and the Netherlands duly delivered, with one of the most cagey, tactical battles of the tournament.

Louis van Gaal’s charges did a great job of keeping Lionel Messi quiet, and apart from the occasional pass or free kick, the Argentine captain was nowhere to be seen. Their evisceration of defending champions Spain defined ‘ruthless’ (well, until Germany decided to throw the dictionary out of the window in the semifinal), while Van Gaal’s substitutions, such as Huntelaar against Mexico and Krul against Costa Rica, were successful in turning a match on its head. But for Ron Vlaar, who was rock-solid at the back for Netherlands, Argentina would have wrapped up the game by half time, with crosses from the right side finding both Higuain and Messi in space, only to be denied by last ditch blocks from the Aston Villa (yeah, Aston Villa! No, I don’t know why, you’ll have to ask his agent) defender.

After half-time, Louis van Gaal switched the willing runner Dirk Kuyt (who has now played in every position but central defense and goalkeeper in the 2014 tournament-talk about Total Football!) to the left side of the defense and switched the equally adaptable Daley Blind (who has played at wingback, center back, as well as defensive midfield) to central defense. Rodriguez’s turn and volley against Uruguay was one of the best World Cup goals ever scored, while Robben got full revenge for Casillas’ famous save in the 2010 Final with two very well-taken goals against Spain. Gigi Buffon was composed for Italy and made quite a few good saves, but on balance, and especially considering the disparity between the opposition they faced, Enyeama wins out. Monaco’s James Rodriguez has led this group of talented cafeteros by becoming one of two players to score in each of his team’s group stage games (Lionel Messi is the other one). While his Manchester United teammate Welbeck manfully strode the length of the pitch to cover for the errant Johnson, Rooney was nowhere to be seen when the poor Leighton Baines was regularly being outnumbered by Candreva and the excellent Darmian. Daryl Janmaat came on to take Kuyt’s place at the right side of defense, with the volatile Bruno Martins Indi coming off for him. However, Romero’s more decisive interventions in the past week earn him a place on this week’s list.

Referees Need to Toughen Up

James Rodriguez once again takes the plaudits after a thoroughly delectable and crucial pair of goals in Colombia’s Round of 16 defeat of Uruguay. His misplaced defiance towards the ‘false 9′ system adapted by many other nations (including Germany in many games) meant that he could only choose between Fred and Jo, a dilemma that would even give a certain Sophie some sense of perspective over hers. It is yet another step to ensure that the decisions are as accurate as possible every time.

Luddites, Thy End is Nigh!

Ron Vlaar

Center Back

Netherlands

Gonzalo Higuain

Striker

Argentina

It’s almost impossible to discern between the misses of Blerim D?emaili for Switzerland in the dying moments of their defeat against Argentina and Chris Wondolowski’s almost identical miss in the USA’s defeat to Belgium, but I’ll plump for the former due to its timing. Okay, so Andrea Pirlo did two of the coolest things ever seen on the football pitch-you expect that from the man with the best beard in Brazil. This is how Spain’s passing game should have been played, instead of the anemic performances seen in their group stage games.

The Best Save

As for Wayne Rooney, his cross for Sturridge’s goal was sumptuous, but so must have been the nine-course meal he presumably had had before putting on the jersey. They had all already been used last season, when Suárez bit Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic while playing for Liverpool. However, because of the effect his first goal had on the match, the award goes to the Dutch skipper, SuperVan Persie.

Manager of the Week

Lionel Messi (Argentina)

Rafik Halliche

Defense

Algeria

Romelu Lukaku

Striker

Belgium

Gonzalo Higuain has been far below his best in this World Cup tournament, but he showed what he is capable of against the Belgians, with an instinctive striker’s goal.

Higuain was making a run into the Belgian penalty area, when a diverted pass bounced up in front of him. When his club teammate Koke came on in the second half against Chile, Costa seemed to have finally come alive, but it was too little too late.

The French team has followed a curious pattern in recent World Cups: Champions in 1998, they crashed out ignominiously in 2002, reached the final in 2006 as one last hurrah for the Zidane-Vieira-Thuram generation, before redefining ‘ignominy’ through the player revolt in 2010 and once again exiting at the group stage. He is absolutely critical to Argentina’s chances in the final against Germany, whose midfield trio ran riot against Brazil.

After years-decades, really- of being taunted over their preference of faster, more action-filled sports than soccer, the US national team has done the country proud, reaching the knockout stages and giving an excellent account of themselves in the defeat against Belgium. With Spain 2-0 down against Chile, the refreshingly energetic Koke combined with the peerlessly hopeless Diego Costa to offer the latter the chance for a bicycle kick. Definitely one to keep an eye on!

Week 4

Did You Know?

The 2014 World Cup ranks joint first in terms of the total number of goals scored in the tournament. Perhaps it was because of the pressure of the occasion, but Higuain dragged his mishit shot wide of Manuel Neuer’s right hand post, drawing a collective moan from his country and an angry tirade from Javier Mascherano. Hulk finally came good on his potential against the diminutive midfielders of Chile, rousing the Brazilian fans packed into the Mineirão.

The French side is blessed to have three midfielders with legitimate claims to being the most complete midfield players in the world right now. Algeria, like Ghana in the group stage, were quick to exploit the space left behind the lumbering Arsenal defender, and Manuel Neuer had to repeatedly bail his team out by charging off his line. The surprise run to the 2002 World Cup Final, founded on the legendary Oliver Kahn and Michael Ballack, was the last hurrah for many of those players.

Unlike last week, there is no obvious winner in this category, but the ever-reliable Gigi Buffon gets the gong with his reflex save off Nicolás Lodeiro in Italy’s match against Uruguay. The Australians biting the Dutch in the backside barely a minute after going behind was a pretty good move, though.

Of course, one of the best moves, even though it came from a corner kick routine, was the dummy from the Beard.

James Rodriguez

Attacking Mid

Colombia

Rodrigo Palacio had a golden chance to seal the deal for Argentina late in the second half of extra time, as he ran onto a lofted through ball without a Dutch marker. The 30-plus players in the Netherlands team, such as Arjen Robben, Nigel de Jong, Robin van Persie, and Dirk Kuyt, have been absolutely vital to the team’s performance, and replacements need to be found for these player, who will most probably have hung up their boots by the time the World Cup moves to Russia.

The public protests that dominated the headlines during the Confederations Cup and before the World Cup began are quiet for now, at least as long as Brazil don’t get eliminated. Considering that Luiz will be Silva’s club teammate at PSG from the next season, the French champions must be squirming in their seat at the thought of an injury to Silva. So while the divisive manager’s stroke of genius could have worked again if Krul had been available in the semifinal shootout, it doesn’t make up for the fact that the Netherlands had undoubtedly cooled down after opening their campaign with three wins, one of them an all-time World Cup classic. Going by the cold, ruthless performance of the Germans, it is hard to imagine Thiago Silva or Neymar making any difference.

This was, without any shadow of a doubt, Brazil’s most embarrassing defeat ever. Guillermo Ochoa, stationed a bit too much to the left than he would otherwise have chosen, leapt to his right, palming the header away. Medel was inspiring for Chile, running himself into the ground in spite of a heavily strapped-up thigh. Shooting low past the Swiss keeper without taking an extra touch to stabilize himself, di María wheeled away in celebration.

Worst Howler

The USA is Well and Truly Here

Best of the Tournament

Toni Kroos

Center Mid

Germany

Van Persie scored two, including one World Cup classic, Benzema should have scored a hattrick against Honduras, and Müller did, against Portugal.

Like Argentina, the hosts Brazil still rely on one particularly talented individual to bail them out, and fortunately for them, Neymar has obliged. Sure, Jordan Henderson is no Angel di Maria, Fernando Gago is no Steven Gerrard (Gago has even managed to stay on his feet the whole time!), and Luis Suárez-however good he may have been in the last season-is no Leo Messi. Incredibly, three of his four goals have given Argentina the lead in the match, which demonstrates his importance to the team.

Germany’s Mannschaft Triumphs

Brazil Yet to Click Into Gear

Del Bosque’s curious loyalty to a few players, and puzzling decisions with regard to a few others, raised quite a few questions. Not all matches have been covered in this section, since that is pointless; let’s be honest, nobody wants to even mention the Iran-Nigeria game ever again! Only the noteworthy tactical aspects of certain matches have been covered here. Pitted in a group against three fading-but-formidable former world champions, Costa Rica sent shockwaves through the footballing world by topping the Group of Death and advancing to the quarterfinals. The tactically flexible and adaptable Daley Blind was a consistent defensive as well as offensive performer for the Netherlands, regularly bombing down the left to provide crosses, but returning dutifully to his defensive duties.

Javier Mascherano

Defensive Mid

Country: Argentina

While this seems like a strange statement to make about a player who stands at just about 5′ 9”, the increasingly vital performances of Javier Mascherano in the heart of Argentina’s midfield deserve greater recognition.

While Messi is unquestionably the leading force of the Argentine assault, it’s Angel di Maria and Javier Mascherano who have kept the side ticking, with the former’s tireless running and positional intelligence providing balance to a top-heavy squad, and the latter proving why he was considered the best defensive midfielder in the world while at Liverpool, before Barcelona ridiculously decided to turn him into the shortest center back in history.

Miroslav Klose

Striker

Germany

Week 2

The Best Goal

Simulation is Here to Stay

Sergio Romero

Goalkeeper

Country: Argentina

The 2014 edition is claimed by many to be the best and most exciting World Cup tournament, and now there is some statistical proof to support that theory.

As mentioned before, this World Cup has already seen more goals before the quarterfinals than the last World Cup had in total. Initially, it seemed as if he had headbutted Chiellini, but replays-and Suárez ludicrously feeling his own teeth-suggested that the offence had been much more serious. Netherlands will need their talismanic forwards at their best to beat the Levante stopper.

The Best Move

The fact that all four defenders come from losing sides shouldn’t dent their efforts in what were heroic defensive performances. Messi then reclaimed the lead for Argentina in first half stoppage time with a glorious free kick, but Musa equalized again moments after the second half started. There might have been as much contact as between my mousepad and the fly that just alighted on it, but Fred made the most of it, getting the hosts back in a game in which they really had struggled against Croatia’s midfield dominance.

Thomas Müller became the darling of the German football community by scoring a (without doubt, glorious) hattrick against Portugal, but along with the match ball, he also deserved to go home with an Academy Award nomination. The Chileans were incomparably fitter and sharper than the Spaniards, and didn’t give Spain any room to execute their preferred game plan.

Argentina’s performances in the World Cup so far can be paralleled with those of Liverpool in last year’s Premier League, with an outstanding striker papering over the cracks of a flexible, attack-heavy, defensively suspect team. You were actually quite a good player before you decided to quit soccer and take up MMA classes. Instead, he somehow contrived to miss the open goal, with nobody hassling him, from about 3 yards out. The counterattacking setup led to quite a few gilt-edged chances, and a slightly better strikeforce could have completed a massive upset.

Brazil were never the favorites for this tie, having scraped through the previous rounds by the skin of their teeth, but nobody was expecting such a meek capitulation. Yes, the man we know as Guillermo Ochoa could have actually been a time-traveling Gordon Banks, but that is no excuse for Fred dithering like a six-year-old wallflower, and Hulk and Danny Alves forming one of the worst right flanks in Brazilian history.

Team of the Week

Week 3

Costa’s Career Killer

Ezequil Garay

Center Back

Argentina

Something unthinkable and obviously absolutely unacceptable happened in Recife before Croatia’s Group A game against Mexico. The entire Iran defense, absolutely heroic for the full 90 minutes against Argentina (the goal coming in added time), gets a very honorable mention.

Moussa Dembele

Center Mid

Country: Belgium

To say that Costa Rica’s progress was a surprise is a massive understatement. Uruguay also bounced back in spectacular fashion after losing the opening game, though they will be severely tested without their talismanic striker, who seems to be is on his way to ‘having an old friend for dinner’ soon (more on that later).

The Brazilian central midfield duo of Fernandinho and Luiz Gustavo was practically nonexistent in the first half, completely overwhelmed by the German trio of Schweinsteiger, Khedira, and the mercurial Kroos. Each goal was constructed by uncomplicated, one-touch passing, with off-the-ball movement opening up gaps in the Brazilian defense. Di Maria has carried his end-of-season form at Real Madrid into the Albiceleste fold, and has now become Argentina’s second most important player, behind Messi. Colombia, with their battery of creative midfielders and well-organized defensive unit, could and should cause Brazil some serious problems in the quarterfinals.

Major Talking Points

Argentina have been completely reliant on the genius of Lionel Messi in this tournament, and so far he has delivered. Enyeama was not at fault for any of Argentina’s goals, though he could have done a bit better with the initial save off Di Maria’s shot for the first goal. What would you do?

Really, what other option did poor Pepe have? Not headbutting Müller? Not forgetting that his teammates were up against one of the best teams and some of the very elite individual talents in the world? Not losing his cool? Your heart truly bleeds for him, doesn’t it?

Week 4

Total Goals Scored

Messi Needs a 4-3-3

Stefan de Vrij

Center Back

Netherlands

While Keylor Navas has been stunning and more consistent, Howard’s one-man show against Belgium will go down as one of the great goalkeeping performance in the World Cup. Whether he is really a worse shot stopper than Krul or his confidence was shaken by Van Gaal’s decision in the last round (his reaction to being substituted made obvious his frustration and anger at the decision) we won’t know, but with Cillessen in goal, the Netherlands went on to miss two of their penalties, and conceded 4 to send Argentina through to their fourth final.

What Van Gaal’s masterstroke masked was that his team hadn’t scored a single goal from open play in more than 240 minutes of football, including the extra time in both the quarters and the semis. Snickering is okay, but only behind closed doors. Valbuena, rushing into the box without any marker in anticipation of just such an opportunity, tried to wrap his foot around the ball, but only succeeded in hitting the crossbar. He had been ignored up till then by his home country Brazil, and was now eligible for Spanish citizenship, which would allow him to join the ranks of the reigning world and European champions. As Blind launched the cross, Van Persie was rushing inside the Spanish penalty area with an instinctive burst, well clear of Ramos and Pique. First letting Neymar off with a yellow card for a swipe at Luka Modric’s neck, Nishimura then made himself the target of millions of Croatian as well as neutral fans by awarding a ridiculous penalty for Fred’s dive in the Croatian penalty area. His tigerish, domineering performance in the tournament was arguably even more important for Argentina than the Little Flea himself.

Gary Medel

Defense

Chile

Miroslav Klose’s goal against Brazil wins out due to his intelligent, poacher’s dart into the box that opened up the space for the ball to be released to him. Jorge Luis Pinto is also a very close runner for his mightily impressive run to the quarterfinals with the unfancied Costa Rica.

But the winner is the wily old fox Louis van Gaal, who molded the ragtag Netherlands into a formidable, efficient, and adaptable unit. Casillas was directly responsible for at least 3 of the 7 goals Spain have conceded so far, being haplessly caught in no man’s land for Van Persie’s equalizer, hopelessly fumbling a Soccer-101 pass from Sergio Ramos on Van Persie’s second, and then inexplicably choosing to punch a rather tame Alexis Sanchez free kick straight back into the goalmouth melee, leading to Chile’s second goal.

Angel di Maria

Right Mid

Argentina

Zabaleta and Rojo have been the consistent performers in the Argentine defense, while the central axis has looked very suspect. Iker Casillas, legend as he is in Spain, hadn’t had the best of seasons at Real Madrid, being firmly demoted to the bench by the impressive Diego Lopez, and making a few high-profile howlers when he was played in goal. The best chance of the match had just been wasted, and Germany would go on to win the game in extra time.

Casillas’ fumble on Ramos’ pass to hand Van Persie a golden opportunity gets an honorable mention, as does Marcelo applying the deftest of touches to Ivica Olic’s cross to open the World Cup in absolutely perfect fashion for the Selecao.

Three of these were the genuine superstars for their countries, and were the primary outlet for the team’s attacks, while Müller once again scored a quintet of goals at the World Cup, including a hat trick against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. Maybe if Diego Costa, ironically playing for a team oriented towards a false nine forward, had picked his country of birth, this World Cup could have been very different.

Is It Rude to Point and Laugh?

Miroslav Klose’s record-making 16th World Cup goal also deserves a mention, because of its momentous implications.

Team of the Week

Youth teams in the German league were encouraged, and the transition between youth levels and senior international game was made smoother. Algeria’s 4-2 win over South Korea helped the African country make their passage into the knockout round near-certain, and the best move of the week comes from Algeria’s fourth of the game, scored by Yacine Brahimi. David Luiz was lost without the calming presence of regular captain Thiago Silva, reverting to his erratic best when his experience and leadership was necessary. The action is over, though the dust will take some time to settle, especially if you are Brazilian. By that logic, they are due another final appearance in 2014.

While they have not been really challenged in a straightforward group, the harmonious, well-balanced squad has played some beautiful football and should set up an inviting quarterfinal with Germany.

We’ll get to the World Champions in a moment, but Brazil’s capitulation has been arguably the bigger story of this World Cup. The Brazilians were missing their two most important players, but you can only beat what is in front of you. That two of the latter three scored in open play was no surprise at all. Soon after the first M had given Argentina the lead with a thumping followup to Vincent Enyeama’s first of many saves from Angel di Maria (yet another M, weirdly enough), the second M equalized for the Africans with a scorching drive. Robben, Holland’s talisman so far in the World Cup, only had six touches on the ball in the first half!

Argentine hearts were broken in the heart of Brazilian football, the glorious Maracana stadium. If Scolari had been a bit more flexible, he could have played the battering ram Hulk, the delightful Neymar, or even the plucky Oscar in the false nine role, with Willian or Bernard taking over the usual roles of the false nine players. It’s the latter, rather underrated due to his juxtaposition with the sometimes-demonic Pogba, who has been France’s most consistent player in this tournament.

Neymar

Left Winger

Brazil

Colombia are always good on counterattacks, and propelled by the brilliant James Rodriguez, they are fast becoming the best team to watch at this World Cup.

The World Cup has an obvious tradition of the referees favoring the host nation (South Korea in 2002 springs to mind), but one can’t but feel sorry for Croatia, who could have pulled off a fantastic upset in the opening match if not for the intervention of the Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura. In the semis, though, the Netherlands had used up all three of their substitutions before the shootouts, and had to go with the shaky Cillessen. Many players shine on highlights reels and custom-made videos designed to show off their skills, but the audacity, invention, and self-confidence to plan and pull off the move in the heat of a World Cup game is what sets James Rodriguez apart.

Group DName

Played

Points

GD

Costa Rica

3

7

+3

Uruguay

3

6

0

Italy

3

1

-1

England

3

1

-2

Here’s a wrapup of the pertinent facts about the 2014 World Cup, before we dive into the intangibles.

Brazil Need a Center Forward (Who Isn’t Spanish)

The young Colombian has scored in each of his team’s matches, matching the achievement of Alcides Ghiggia in 1950 and Jairzinho in 1970 so far. The modern game is so cluttered with coaches taking a defensive tone in pre-game post conferences and talking about “respecting the opponent” that Kovac’s confidence was a refreshing change. The loss of Angel di Maria in the same match took away the driving force behind Argentina’s attacking triumvirate, and forced a more defensive setup for the rest of the tournament. Ahmed Musa’s first goal against Argentina, a lovely curler hit into the left corner of Sergio Romero’s net, David Villa’s cheeky backheel in his final appearance in the Spain shirt, and Xherdan Shaqiri’s second of his three goals against Honduras were also great to watch.

However, the winner is Jackson Martinez’s second goal in Colombia’s 4-1 win against Japan. Notching up the unusual statistic of being on the losing side in the last two World Cup semifinal penalty shootouts, the Netherlands exited the tournament with pride.

Joachim Löw won deserved plaudits for his tactical understanding and tinkering with the German team. In spite of missing the first penalty in the semifinal shootout, he makes the team for his exceptional defensive contribution. Costa, in his infinite wisdom, chose to play for his adopted country, and what a stroke of brilliance that has proved to be!

James Rodriguez

Center Mid

Colombia

Once again, the winner, though obvious, deserves all the plaudits. Holland’s high pressing hurt the Spanish badly, particularly in the second half, when Arjen Robben ran rings around the Spanish defense.

Angel di Maria must be sick of the sight of Enyeama, going by the sheer number of saves he made from the Argentine midfielder. Wrong-footing one defender, Martinez turned inside and scored with a precise, curling left foot finish.

Week 5

What to Make of Belgium?

Final Group Standings

The Best Save

Daley Blind

Left Back

Netherlands

Golden Glove

2014 FIFA World Cup: Review and Analysis

Oh Pepe, When Will You Learn?

Champions

Favorites Faltering?

The lack of coordination between Costa and Spain’s other players was painfully easy to spot, and the lack of coordination between Fred and his limbs was even more so. A team playing with a front three of Mesut Özil, Mario Götze, and Thomas Müller, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos patrolling the midfield, really can have no excuses when it comes to unlocking defenses, but so far, the Germans have only been fluent in attack against 10-man Portugal. Cameroon have been arguably the worst team in this World Cup, closely followed by Honduras. He was an absolute rock against the French, and kept Lionel Messi in the pocket in the Final, apart from one early run that was snuffed out by Bastian Schweinsteiger. Perhaps not realizing he had more space and time than he thought, he made haste to get a shot away, and ended up heading the ball straight at Cillessen from just outside the six-yards box. Going past Ronaldo, who was commentating on the match for Brazilian TV, Klose achieved the top spot in the all-time World Cup scorers list and set Germany on the way to arguably their most famous victory.

The Worst Howler

Vincent Enyeama

Goalkeeper

Country: Nigeria

If you are still in Brazil and want to get home alive, probably yes. Having already caused a major upset by beating Urugauy, Pinto’s Costa Rica pulled an even bigger bunny out of the hat by beating Italy, and topping Group D. Considering his relatively unglamorous club career, it is remarkable that Klose has managed to hit the net for Germany with such consistency, and has now eclipsed legends such as Pele, Ronaldo, and Gerd Müller in the World Cup scoring chart. Fred was arguably Brazil’s worst player, including the train wreck Paulinho, of the tournament; how Big Phil Scolari must be wishing he had turned on the charm a bit more to persuade Costa to join the canary yellow brigade.

Having ranked two of his saves as the two best saves of the week, it would be ridiculous to put someone else in the Team of the Week.

Is there even any scope for debate with this one? James (James? Hames? Hamez? Whatever.) Rodríguez has lit up this tournament like wildfire, and his first goal against Uruguay in their Round of 16 game was a goal of astonishing technical quality, vision, and precision.

With his back to the goal, Rodríguez calmly took a touch on a knockdown, and in one fluid motion, swiveled around to direct the shot under the crossbar and beyond Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. Neymar was put out of the remainder of the tournament in the quarters in a violent match against Colombia, but he had done enough to justify his tag as Brazil’s golden boy up till that point.

Mascherano was the beating heart of the Argentine team, often assuming the role of a one-man midfield, snapping up opposition attacks and passing the ball on with characteristic calmness. Playing upon the defender’s ‘hard-earned’ reputation, Müller went down, which must have been awkward once he realized mid-fall that he was already lying on the ground. As goal line cameras revealed later, the save was actually made on the goal line! Ochoa’s point-blank save from Brazilian captain Thiago Silva comes a close second.

Joe Hart brilliantly fooling Andrea Pirlo by going the other way on the latter’s knuckleball free kick comes a close third. The tackle was high, but it was clear that there was no malevolent intent, and a yellow card would have sufficed. The ball sailed into the Thibaut Courtois’ right hand corner.

The Best Goal

The Best Save

Let us know what you thought about the action in the four mad weeks of the World Cup. Chile were ever so unlucky to be beaten by hosts Brazil, Switzerland’s well-drilled defense almost nullified Lionel Messi and by consequence Argentina, Algeria’s smart counterattacking unit were just one Manuel Neuer short of upsetting Germany, Nigeria’s uninhibited play was also admirable, and the adaptable USA finally ran out of ideas against the frustratingly talented Belgians. Only 7 group stage matches, constituting about 15% of the total group stage games played, were draws, and only 5 were goalless. All three dazzled at various points, and lit up the tournament with moments of brilliance. With all due respect, even a fully-fit and gamma-ray-infused Costa is not Messi, let alone a Costa who had only been fit enough to play less than twenty minutes in the last two matches of the season put together. Luiz’s thunderous knuckleball free kick, which turned out to be the deciding goal in Brazil’s 2-1 win over Colombia, was a thing of beauty, swerving uncontrollably past the excellent Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina. Unfortunately it was in a losing cause, and he could have done better for the first goal, but that doesn’t diminish the high standards he set.

The Netherlands started off with a ragtag band of plucky young colts, augmented by just three genuinely world class players, all of them concentrated in the freestyle attack. However ruthless they may have been during the game, it was touching to see the German Bayern Munich players consoling Dante afterwards.

Diego Godin

Center Back

Uruguay

Imagine yourself in the shoes of Képler Laveran Lima Ferreira. Scolari’s innate conservatism led him to rein in Fernandinho to a defensive role, in stark contrast to German coach Joachim Löw, who pushed up Khedira into a more attacking role. The wingbacks have also been the only players to stretch the field for Argentina, with the usually-central Messi, Aguero, and Higuain all shoehorned into the same team. Raheem Sterling was surging all over the place, belying his tender years, Jordan Henderson ran his customary marathon before the sapping rainforest humidity of Manaus got the better of him, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard continued their excellent Liverpool form (though Gerrard was running on fumes for a long time before the final whistle), and Danny Welbeck managed to get in the mix on more than a few occasions. Marcos Rojo concluded the crazy scoring sequence with a fortuitous tap-in with his knee, scoring what turned out to be the winner.

Like against Iran, the Argentine defense was caught out many times against Nigeria, and Musa’s second goal was a result of a disorganization within the defensive line that should have been avoided. Rodriguez, meanwhile, scored in 5 distinct games in the tournament, the most of any player, and was at the heart of everything good about the Colombian team. The Swiss defense was similarly watertight for all but three minutes of their match against Argentina, and Arsenal defender Djourou was a huge part of it.

The Best Save

Mats Hummels

Center Back

Germany

Khedira and Kroos ran amok with the Brazilian backline in their semifinal encounter, completely dominating the midfield along with the metronomic Bastian Schweinsteiger. You are a bedrock of your team’s defense. Navas’ heroics, as they have for virtually the entire tournament, have allowed Costa Rica to keep punching firmly above their weight. Though it shackled Messi and reduced his influence to sporadic bursts, the rest of the squad looked much better and more comfortable in their own skins in the latter stages of the World Cup, and it should be interesting to see which way this talented Argentine unit heads off after the World Cup.

Johan Djourou

Defense

Switzerland

Benzema, Robben, and Van Persie were all excellent in the striking department, whereas Müller scored the first hattrick of the 2014 tournament. Starting off as a team soaked in the Guardiola-edition Bayern Munich’s adherence to tiki-taka, Germany ended up looking like the love child of tiki taka and the Italian catenaccio, however contrasting those concepts may seem. Musa should have been closed down quicker for the first goal (though to be fair, it was a brilliant drive and deserves all the plaudits), while another counterattack later in the game, down the left flank, almost earned Nigeria a third equalizer, with Musa turning inside Pablo Zabaleta to make space for a shot. The Manchester United-bound manager leaves the Dutch camp with his reputation enhanced and his incorrigible ego rightly inflated.

An admittedly goal-centric selection in center back forced by the absence of truly spectacular rearguard action. As Van Persie wheeled off to perform a high-five with Louis van Gaal (which was hilariously awkward), the Spanish team stood shellshocked. Though the miss had no effect on the outcome of the match, which France won 5-2, it was still a golden chance.

Andre Schurrle’s second goal, Germany’s seventh (still feels weird to type), against Brazil was also a brilliant volley. However, the significance of Higuain’s goal, which turned out to be the winner, gives it precedence. Whereas Spain focused on carving open teams with finesse and precision, with players drifting across various positions to bamboozle opposing defenders, Costa was brought up in a school where the striker stayed true to his name and did little beyond scoring and providing layoffs for oncoming midfielders. If Mauricio Pinilla’s last-minute shot had been a couple of inches lower, the resultant elimination would not have come as a major shock. Rojo and Godin also scored crucial goals in their team’s final group stage matches, both turning out to be matchwinners. Led by the seemingly Liverpool-bound Divock Origi, the Belgians have started to come good at just the right time. Scolari’s loyalty to Fred was puzzling to many, but rather more curious was Scolari’s insistence to play a true ‘Number 9′ striker at a time when Brazil faced a serious dearth in that very position. Cahill scored the volley, Van Persie scored the header, make no mistake!

The White Elephant of Manaus

No, wait, that’s not quite right, is it?

Lahm was a calming influence for Germany, whether playing in defensive midfield or at right back. Declared by FIFA as the best player of the group stages, Rodriguez’s star continues to shine brightly.

Manager of the Week

Thomas Müller

Attacking Mid

Germany

The same flaws hurt Spain badly against Chile, who are looking like one of the best teams of the World Cup. Hummels had the game of his life in the quarterfinals, scoring the winner and then imperiously protecting Manuel Neuer’s goal. Old, rugged players were discarded and younger, more technically proficient players were incorporated into the squad. The main aim of ‘Big Phil’ Scolari in 2014 was to eradicate the ghosts of 1950 and erase the haunting memories of the Maracanazo. The offside goal aside (Fred scoring being more of a marker of Cameroon’s inadequacy than his own ability), Brazil were good value for the win in the second half, but will need to improve massively for their knockout tie with the dynamic Chile.

France and Colombia Are Ominously Good

Italy’s game against Uruguay in Group D, the outcome of which would decide which former world champion would join noisy upstarts Costa Rica in the knockout rounds, was one of the most eventful and controversial games of the tournament, even without Suárez’s vampire act.

Italy’s plan to hold Uruguay to a draw had been largely effective until Claudio Marchisio’s harsh red card. Louis van Gaal’s adaptive, pragmatic leadership has carried the team through some rough patches, but attacking reinforcements are badly needed. While Costa’s shot, hit from the left side (from Chile’s point of view) of the Chilean penalty area, was going wide, Sergio Busquets, standing alone on the other side with no Chilean player within miles of him, should have buried the shot. Though ultimately left heartbroken by Messi’ moment of magic, the Iranian defense gave arguably the first genuinely admirable defensive performance in a topsy-turvy, goal-filled World Cup. The latter’s compatriots now stand in his way in the quarters.

Paul Pogba (France)

The Best Save

Spain, Brazil, Germany, and Argentina were among the heaviest tournament favorites before the World Cup. He then went on to star in the Round of 16, where he won a controversial penalty, which sent the Netherlands through. This blocked off the preferred channel of attack of the Argentines, who in turn did a great job keeping Arjen Robben quiet by not allowing him space on the ball. You are 29 years old and have been playing the game for close to fifteen years. Gonzalez and his Yankee band can be very proud of their performance in the 2014 World Cup, proving to be more than a match for Germany in the group stage and then almost forcing a penalty shootout against the talented Belgians. He is firmly on his way to becoming the next global superstar.

Manager of the Tournament

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

Striker

Netherlands

Group BName

Played

Points

GD

Netherlands

3

9

+7

Chile

3

6

+2

Spain

3

3

-3

Australia

3

0

-6

Guillermo Ochoa’s Gordon Banks impression still takes the cake comfortably. You have played for one of the most decorated and most fervently followed clubs in the world for 7 years. Not bad, unless the stadium has been built from scratch at a cost of USD 270 million, and in a city that has had no club in the premier tier of the Brazilian League for more than 25 years; Nacional FC, the club that will inherit the stadium as its home ground, have not played in the Brasileirão since 1985, and only compete in the state league of Amazonas.

Supporting the irreplaceable Beard is the inventive Colombian, who is quickly blossoming into one of the world’s best players, and Oscar, who was undoubtedly Brazil’s best player against both Croatia and Mexico.

Manager of the Week

One round ago, Louis van Gaal was being hailed as a tactical genius-which, to be fair, he is-for his daring substitution of Jasper Cillessen for penalty shootout specialist Tim Krul. There are still many protesting the merits of tradition over technology, and there certainly are many of those, but accuracy of decisions is definitely not one of those, as fans of England and Germany will unite in testifying.

Another equally important but slightly derided innovation is the self-vanishing foam spray used to mark a boundary for defenders facing a free kick. His inclusion would offer Spain coach Vicente del Bosque an alternate plan to his strikerless false-nine system, with a genuine Number 9 striker up front. The introduction of the Real Sociadad winger allowed Benzema to move to his favored central zone, and he immdiately began to influence the proceedings.

All in all, Brazil is definitely giving the neutral fans the best World Cup we have seen in recent times.

Golden Ball

Insert Your Cliched Teeth Meme Here

His influence on Argentina’s games could be clearly seen against Belgium, who repeatedly tried to bypass the midfield by launching long balls to their strikers, and the Dutch, who repeatedly ran into the bald-headed human wall just as an attack seemed to get going. He got virtually nothing right in a match where the World and European champions were torn to shreds.

However, it’s one of the Spain captain’s junior teammates that wins this prize. Their famed attacking strength had been disrupted by coach Alejandro Sabella’s ungainly formation (which is to say, the formation didn’t suit Messi), and the Bosnians were holding steady after conceding an unfortunate early own goal. 5 goals were scored before half an hour-a World Cup record-including 4 soul-sucking goals in six stupefying minutes-the fastest that four goals have been scored in the World Cup. Feghouli was instrumental in giving Africa its first ever two-team contingent in the World Cup knockout rounds, whereas Enner Valencia, who also falls in the confusing midfield-forward twilight zone, has scored all of Ecuador’s goals at this tournament. More goals were scored in the group stage of the tournament than any other edition, eclipsing the earlier record of 130, set in 2002, by 6. Sergio Romero and Keylor Navas performed some great heroics in their respective shootouts, but Ochoa’s vital heroics still win out.

The Worst Howler

Group EName

Played

Points

GD

France

3

7

+6

Switzerland

3

6

+1

Ecuador

3

4

-1

Honduras

3

0

-7

For the first half of their match against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Argentina were looking far from the championship favorites everyone (including yours truly, admittedly) has made them out to be. Colombia’s attractive, creative football will come under the microscope in the knockout round, where, if they overcome the defensively set up Uruguay, they will encounter either Chile or hosts Brazil.

Karim Benzema has been effervescent in the World Cup so far, and thus surprised nobody when his lively play earned France a penalty against Switzerland. As it happened, Brazil also happened to play a very similar brand of football, one that would have maximized the strengths of both Brazil and Costa. Krul went on to save two Costa Rican penalties, guessing correctly on each and every one, and sent the Netherlands into the semifinals. The holders have already been unceremoniously dumped out of the tournament, and the other three have been very inconsistent, with a combination of confusing team structures, lack of creative spark, and defensive instability proving to be the Achilles’ heel of the three.

Brazil, who were extremely lucky to get their tournament off to the right start in their 3-1 opening win over Croatia, lacked attacking impetus in their draw against Mexico, and were also toothless against Chile. This was in spite of the fact that apart from Gonzalo Higuaín, who stands at about 6 feet but isn’t exactly renowned for his heading prowess, no other Argentine striker or midfielder even approaches 5’10”! The great Argentine hope, Leo Messi, is a tiny 5’7”! Unsurprisingly, Argentina failed to break through the Swiss ranks, whose double marking system had kept Messi quiet for so long. Van Persie chose possibly the most difficult way of scoring from the position he was in, leaping in the air and meeting the cross bang-on with his head. His fearless confidence on the ball has made him one of the very best sweeper-keepers ever, and it’s very hard to point out any obvious flaws in his game.

We Are With You, Niko!

Best Young Player

Omar Gonzalez

Defense

USA

Both ‘Groups of Death’ have Delivered

However, the aggression of Costa Rica and Chile has at least given hope to football purists that the boring, defensive, counterattacking football in vogue at the 2010 World Cup is well and truly a thing of the past.

Daley Blind

Left Back

Netherlands

Tactical Highlights

Okay, so England lost-nobody was expecting anything else. Minutes before Diego Godin’s decisive goal, Suárez leant into Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in the Italian penalty area. On current performances, though, it’s harder to reconcile them with dark horses than to golden generations. Plucky Belgium await!

Manuel Neuer (Germany)

Argentina’s Defense Finally Gives Way

Like Germany, runners up Argentina have also undergone a curious transformation during the World Cup. However, just as the rest of the world was getting ready for another penalty shootout, the little maestro broke free of the Swiss markers thanks to a slip-up by Stephan Lichtsteiner, and released a perfectly weighted pass for Ángel di María to stroke home. The referee, following the letter of the law, sent off Pepe for the headbutt, but surely there can’t be a stipulation that meant Müller couldn’t be booked for simulation as well! Germany, of course, profited hugely from Pepe’s dismissal and went on to thrash Portugal 4-0.

It feels weird to include traditional heavyweights France and the Netherlands in the same category as upstarts Costa Rica, but all three teams have gloriously overachieved at the 2014 World Cup, going way beyond their initial expectation.

France and Holland, traditionally racked by internal disputes, displayed model behavior in this tournament, exiting graciously in the quarters and the semis, respectively. Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain, both excellent for Manchester City and Napoli, respectively, are looking like lost boys in their unfamiliar quasi-winger roles, and only Di Maria and Messi have been consistently good in the group stage.

We’ll come to the enthralling game against Nigeria a bit later, but Iran’s performance in the 1-0 defeat against favorites Argentina must have made manager Carlos Quieroz, renowned for his understanding of the defensive side of the game, very proud indeed. And don’t even think about the possibility of Argentina winning in the Maracana!

Brazil’s 1-7 defeat to Germany wasn’t so much a defeat as a methodical dissection performed by an experienced, battle-hardened surgeon. James Rodriguez was a marked man, as Brazilians took turns hacking at the Colombian playmaker, protected by Carballo’s reluctance to brandish a card. Many thought he was just simply being unnecessarily modest and trying to include more people in the halo of success. However, what set the goal apart was the little glance Rodriguez took before the cross came in, to ensure that there was no defender around him, which showed that the shot was planned and not a fluke. Sadly, Fred and Hulk seem to have been replaced by Shaggy and Bruce Banner since the Confederations Cup, going by the tame, listless performances the two have given in the World Cup. With Martinez’s former clubmate James Rodriguez leading the charge on the right side of the pitch, the Porto striker made an arcing run to the edge of the Japanese penalty area. The internet was soon awash with overworked memes and parodies, and Suárez had once again become the world’s favorite villain.

FIFA, taking swift action, handed down a 4-month ban on Suárez for all footballing activities, including even training for his club Liverpool. No wait, that’s not quite right, is it? Karim Benzema and Paul Pogba are still finding flakes of Honduran studs in their legs, the Honduras manager is tired of answering the question of why Honduras have barrels filled with wine grapes instead of a football pitch in their training complex. Higuain finally came good against Belgium, and, emboldened by his goal, almost scored another brilliant one by nutmegging Belgian skipper Vincent Kompany before crashing the shot onto the crossbar.

Incidentally, if the Suárez-to-Barcelona rumors do come to fruition (which they won’t, says the Liverpool fan who is not in denial), we will even get to see this dream partnership at club level next season, along with the ‘midfielder’ Neymar.

What the Hell Happened to Spain?

Before diving into the action, let’s take a look at how things stood at the end of the group stage.

Group AName

Played

Points

GD

Brazil

3

7

+5

Mexico

3

7

+3

Croatia

3

3

0

Cameroon

3

0

-8

German football’s reinnovation after a tragic phase is a lesson for fallen giants such as Brazil, England, and Spain. Costa was used to being the focal point for crosses and a target for long balls that he could run on to. Van Gaal is reportedly considering taking the former Feyenoord and Liverpool player to Manchester United along with him, which shows how impressed the notoriously stern Van Gaal is with him.

Enner Valencia

Right Winger

Ecuador

Neymar

Left Winger

Brazil

Croatia eventually lost the match, but Kovac was steadfast in his confidence in his team, and why the hell shouldn’t he? God save us if a coach dared to have confidence in his players!

Tim Howard

Goalkeeper

Country: USA

However, this award goes to an unlikely candidate. Barcelona, the club that birthed the tiki-taka style of play, had been utterly dismantled by the powerful counterattacks of Bayern Munich in 2013, and Bayern themselves had been undone through the same tactics by Real Madrid in 2014. Robin van Persie’s equalizer against holding champions Spain has gone down as one of the World Cup’s most iconic moments, but was not as good technically as some of the others. Displaying the kind of rash decision-making that should be weeded out in defenders from an early age, Silva conceded a penalty to hand Netherlands the perfect start. While Lionel Messi sparkled in the group stages, and he did, to be fair, create the most number of chances in the tournament, he fizzled out in the knockout stages, and still remains without a single goal in the World Cup knockout rounds. You find yourself facing a player who is already down on the ground. Dirk Kuyt has now transitioned from a striker at club level to being a wingback on the international stage, and has performed remarkably well in whatever position he has been asked to fill. As Casillas stopped in his tracks, too close to Van Persie to save the header but too far to cut out the cross, the ball looped over him and nestled safely in the top corner. Brahimi then played a one-two with Feghouli, and buried the consequent assist between the legs of the Korean keeper.

The Worst Howler

Week 1

Player of the Week

Switzerland came so close to shackling Messi with their double marking tactics, with the rest of the Argentine team unable to pick off the spaces left by Messi’s movement. Neuer has been by far the standout goalie of the tournament so far. His first card, shown to Thiago SIlva for impeding the Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina, wasn’t even for a tackle. Ivorian Aurier, though, justified rumors linking him to some of the top clubs across Europe, including Arsenal and Liverpool. However, the cross was too high to take down with one touch, especially with Casillas advancing. As a result, you are one of your country’s most experienced players. Confusing tactics from the manager have resulted in the Germans playing a ridiculously risky high defensive line, especially with the Fangorn-native Per Mertesacker playing in defense. He has kept the engine room ticking in a deadly unit, and has controlled games at perfect pace in virtually the entire tournament, It seemed as if, at 29, he knew this was probably his last shot at World Cup glory, and he was determined to make it count at any cost.

The veteran Louis van Gaal wins this week’s Manager of the Week award thanks to the expertly orchestrated demolition of defending champions Spain.

Costa Rica pulled off a major upset with their win over Uruguay, and Jorge Luis Pinto’s progressive tactics have won them quite a few neutral admirers. After the host nation were infamously destroyed in the semifinal by Germany, they were again dismantled by Central European opposition in the third place playoff, this time in the form of the Netherlands.

Germany won its first FIFA World Cup title since the reunification of the country, and its fourth title in total. Tim Cahill’s volley against Van Persie’s Netherlands, though not as consequential as other goals in the list, is one of the best World Cup goals ever scored. Mascherano has been monstrous for Argentina in their knockout games, and has risen to prominence in a Messi-worshipping squad.

Built to display the geographical variety of Brazil, the stadium has now become virtually useless.

Messi Must Be Rather Cross

Van Gaal’s Fortune Runs Out

Martinez’s goal was certainly a brilliant move, but the winner comes from an unusual source. Players with a lineage from outside Germany, such as 2014 heroes Sami Khedira, Jerome Boateng, and Mesut Özil, were included in the German team based on merit. Brazilian legend Ronaldo had the misfortune to be commentating on the match in which his record of 15 all-time World Cup goals was broken by Miroslav Klose, but that was the least of the host nation’s worries.

The defeat, though emphatically secured by Germany, revealed more flaws in the Brazilian unit than aces up German sleeves. Their play was based around passing triangles, valuing possession above their own lives, and a fear of the lofted ball. He was crucial in Germany’s attacks in the semifinal against Germany, and his positional and tactical intelligence was also crucial against France. The goal, though assisted by Messi, was only the second scored by a non-Messi Argentine player, which demonstrates just how important the Barcelona wiz has been to his country’s progress to the quarters. This same defensive pairing, which had, to be fair, been exemplary before the 2014 World Cup, is suddenly looking-knee-jerk reaction alert-like a terrible investment.

Serge Aurier

Right Back

Ivory Coast

Germany has undergone an interesting journey in this World Cup, thanks to the pragmatism of Jogi Löw. Wesley Sneijder, captain Robin van Persie, and Arjen Robben were left up front in an interchangeable front three that would focus almost completely on counterattacking when the Spanish attacks broke down. Sabella’s 3-man central defense was being wasted on Bosnia’s solitary striker, and the Bosnians were using their numerical advantage in other zones to keep Argentina at bay.

In the second half, though, Sabella came to his senses and unleashed the trio of Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, and Sergio Aguero on the Bosnian defense; things soon started to click together. Messi, though he fizzled out in the knockout stages, lit up the tournament early on with his goals against Iran and Nigeria (the freekick). The reliable defender, though, recovered to make a timely block.

Philipp Lahm

Right Back

Germany

Though Argentina take a perfect record in the knockout rounds, they have been surprisingly unconvincing, and their top-heavy formation will be severely tested as early as in the Round of 16, with Switzerland looking like one of the better counterattacking teams in the tournament.

Everyone else has plumped for Keylor Navas’ penalty stop in Costa Rica’s shootout victory over Greece, and there’s good reason why. On the other hand, Brazil’s system seemed much better suited to Costa’s style of play.

Spain relied on a Barcelona-grown brand of passing and cerebral play. Okay, so the English defense was often a shambles-once again, no surprises. Messi came into his own in the formation he has been playing in for more than 10 years at Barca, and responded by scoring the crucial second goal. That he should have been sent off is another thing.

David Luiz then had one of his customary moments of unique silliness, heading a clearance straight at Daley Blind, who smashed it in to give Netherlands a 2-0 lead inside 20 minutes, and to give the decision-makers at PSG an acute attack of ‘what-the-hell-have-I-done-itosis’

Global Crossing Settles For Less

Owners of Global Crossing stock will receive nothing.

That reality explains why certain players seem willing to buy Global Crossing’s assets for what amounts to a steep discount from their original cost, but a hefty price tag nonetheless.

Beyonce Knowles arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Palms Hotel and Casino on Sunday, Sept. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Most of the company’s $12 billion debt comes from building a fiber-optic network that spans 100,000 miles, connecting more than 200 cities in 27 countries around the world. All Rights Reserved. Under the earlier deal that was rejected, the investors would have walked away with a 79 percent stake.

“It’s a very difficult world today in the telecommunications industry,” said Arthur Newman, the senior managing director in charge of the restructuring for the Blackstone Group.

Still, even in the current environment, the flow of Web usage and electronic commerce continues to grow at a steady clip.

© 2002 The Associated Press. 9, 2007, in Las Vegas. The Bermuda-based firm had hoped to dominate the market for high-speed data communications, and at one point, enthusiastic investors boosted the company’s value to nearly $50 billion.

An outside financial adviser to Global Crossing who was called to testify at a hastily scheduled hearing early Friday said only three credible bids had been received during a lengthy auction process and that bidders were spooked by the ongoing collapse of the business.. In addition, they will pay $300 million in cash and issue $200 million in notes to Global Crossings assorted lenders and creditors.

Six percent of the equity will go to lenders and 32.5 percent will go to unsecured creditors. At the same time, the collapse of the Web economy eliminated a driving force for the explosion of online traffic that Global Crossing and its rivals were counting on to jam their networks.

Global Crossing, whose bankruptcy is the fourth-largest ever in the United States, piled up $12.4 billion in debts building a vast worldwide communications network at the height of the Internet boom.

The Asian companies have agreed to invest $250 million in cash in Global Crossing’s business. While few networks compare in size, the building frenzy of the past few years left a glut of capacity that forced down prices for bandwidth. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles) AP Photo

Global Crossing sold itself Friday for $250 million — one-third as much as the original offer 3151; to the same Asian companies that tried to buy the fiber-optic network company when it first filed for bankruptcy.

The agreement with Hutchison Whampoa and Singapore Technologies, much smaller than an offer previously rejected by Global Crossing’s banks and creditors, was approved by the bankruptcy judge overseeing the case.

The investors will hold a controlling 61.5 percent stake in the new Global Crossing that emerges from bankruptcy, possibly early next year

Famous Soccer Players

He received the ‘Golden Ball’ award after being chosen as the best player in the tournament. He also played for clubs such as Nancy, Saint-Étienne, and Juventus. He was a member of the French team that won the 1984 European Championship, and his nine goals in that tournament is still a record that has not been broken. He bade good-bye to the field of soccer in 2003.

A teammate of the legendary Pelé, Garrincha was part of the Brazilian team that won the 1958 and 1962 World Cups. Although his full name is Manuel Francisco dos Santos, he earned the nickname of Garrincha, a term meaning ‘little bird’, for his playful behavior on the field. Put on a display of his sublime talent in the 2010 World Cup.

Sir Robert ‘Bobby’ Charlton was arguably the best midfielder and English player of all time. The Time magazine, in the same year, included Pelé in the list of 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century. Diego Armando Maradona is an icon and hero for many footballers. It took him 18 domestic yellow cards, earned during 2003 – 05, to realize that not every provocation needs to be taken seriously. In the 2006 World Cup, he was the best player of the tournament, and won the ‘Golden Ball’ award. Currently, he is the coach of the national team of Iraq.

Oliver Kahn

Zinedine Zidane played as an attacking midfielder for France, and was a part of the team that won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship. However, in the year 2002, as a member of Brazil squad for the FIFA World Cup, Ronaldo scored eight goals in only seven games. Throughout his career, Maradona enthralled his fans and the opponents with his extraordinary footwork and balance. During his career, Stoichkov earned global acclaim four times in a row. He shares the honor of representing the England in 3 World Cups with the 5 others, including Sol Campbell and Michael Owen.

Garrincha

Leônidas da Silva

David Beckham

Ronaldinho is another jewel from Brazil. Through Leônidas da Silva, in 1938 World Cup, soccer world came to know about the natural talent, techniques and the spirit of Brazilian football. He is also known as the Phenomenon, because of his speed, dribbling and passion for scoring again and again. He was a part of the Brazilian team, for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which was jointly hosted by Korea and Japan. After the season of 1997 – 1998 season, Beckham was selected for England’s World Cup team. After a span of 5 years, Beckham was finally selected for the Manchester United team. He was part of the Italian National squad in the Euro 2000 qualifiers. He played an influential role in club’s winning the Spanish Primera División. The lethal combination of speed, strength and skills, and the irresistible urge to score made him the most expensive player of the 2009. 2007 – 2008 season rejoiced in his 42 goals in 49 games, the Premier League and Champions League titles that he won for the Manchester United and FIFA World Player of the Year award. Born on June 24, 1987, this Argentinian footballer has joined the Barcelona when he was 13 years old. He grew up in Brazil and honed his skills in its slums. In 2009 and 2010, Rooney won Premier League for the United but, lost to Barcelona in the finals of Champions League. In the past, he has played for the Gremio, Paris SG, FC Barcelona soccer clubs. He participated in Euro 2004 and World Cup held in 2006 and 2010.

Born in Munich, Germany, Franz Beckenbauer was also known as Der Kaiser or The Emperor, simply because he was extremely elegant in his style of play. He was well-known for his free kicks, passing skills, and finishing, and scored 52 goals for his country. He played at a time when Germany was not unified, which is why he represented West Germany in 103 games, from 1965 to 1977. He started his professional career with CSKA Sofia and later moved on to the FC Barcelona soccer club. In 2003, he transferred to the United Manchester and scored 10 times in the first season. He started playing for his country in August, 2005, and participated in 2006 World Cup. In all, he scored 23 goals for Italy and 194 goals for all the clubs that he played for.

Zinedine Zidane

Roberto Baggio

Christian Vieri

Franz Beckenbauer

Statistic: Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, France, England, Italy, Germany and Spain are the only eight countries who have managed to win the biggest prize ever in soccer – the World Cup.

Zico

Michel Platini represented France from 1976 to 1987, and was also the coach of the team from 1988 to 1992. Well-known for his fitness and stamina levels, he was a part of the English team that won the World Cup, whom he represented from 1958 to 1970. The highlight of this prestigious tournament was the goal, a 35 meter free kick, scored by the Ronaldinho against England. He scored 49 international goals during his international career, and 208 club level goals for Manchester United, Preston North End, and Waterford.. At the age of 9, he joined the Everton club’s academy and in 2002, found himself as a FA Youth Cup finalist. He is famous for his natural play and terrific control over the ball. Francesco Totti is also known as the Prince and Er Pupone. Although, France beat Italy in the final match, they couldn’t stop Totti from lifting the Man of the Match title.

Diego Maradona

A terrific presence on the field, Lionel Messi, according to some, has reserved a spot for himself in the ranks of all time great players like, Pelé and Maradona. He was one of the best forwards in all of Europe, and besides playing for his country, represented as many as 12 clubs throughout his career. Olympic Games 2008 held in China saw him win the gold medal for his country. Known for the talent not easily found in the so many of the footballers, he is their hope for the glory. He also played for Bayern Munich, New York Cosmos, and Hamburger SV, besides being the manager for West Germany, Marseille, and Bayern Munich.

Oliver Kahn

This most beloved Italian footballer was included in the greatest living footballers list that was prepared by none other than the famous Pelé. Ronaldo played for Brazil in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, in which Brazil lost to the French side in the final match. Garrincha ranks second, after Pelé, in the list of best Brazilian soccer players.

In 2000 – 01, Totti, another celebrated Italian football player, scored 13 goals and helped his favorite club, A.S. He joined the Portugal national team in August 2003, and scored 2 times for his country in Euro 2004. He was chosen twice, for the FIFA World Player of the Year Award.

Weird: In 1998, Second Division club Jiul Petro?ani Ion sold Radu, a midfielder from Romania, to Valcea for 500kg of pork.

Bobby Charlton

Cristiano Ronaldo

There is no doubt that Ronaldo is one of the most celebrated players from Brazil, after Pelé. He scored against Romania and Belgium and got the team in the Finals. Top scorer of the tournament, Ronaldo helped the Brazilian team to win their 5th FIFA World Cup title.

Ronaldinho

Famous soccer players, such as Pelé and Maradona are not only worshiped in their native places, but they are also idolized throughout the world. At the club level, he played for Cannes, Bordeaux, Juventus, and Real Madrid. In 2008, he partnered with the teammate Cristiano Ronaldo and won the Premier League and Champions league for his club, the Manchester United. Platini was a free kick specialist, and scored 41 international goals and 224 goals for the clubs that he played for.

Hristo Stoichkov

Lionel Messi

Ronaldo

Francesco Totti

Diego Maradona

Wayne Rooney

Born on October 24, 1985 in Liverpool, England, this footballer has done wonders on the field. Besides coaching various countries and clubs, he also played for Flamengo, Udinese, and Kashima Antlers, for whom he scored 192 goals. You can find him in the right wing of the Barcelona attack, trying to concoct a blend of speed and trickery to frustrate and get past multiple defenders. But in the same event, in the finals, he was involved in a controversial incident, in which he headbutted Italian defender Marco Materazzi. In 1992, his scintillating play was responsible for his club’s Championships League victory. His career lasted for 26 years from 1975 to 2001. His skills included decisive and accurate passes and he was well-known for his powerful free kicks. Their skills, timing and desire to shoot the ball in the net are still admired all over the world even when, they are no more on the field.

Amazing: In the 1950 World Cup final between Brazil and Uruguay, which was played in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, there was a record attendance of 199,854 spectators.

Maradona is the most celebrated Argentine football player.

Cristiano Ronaldo

? Pelé

? Diego Maradona

? Franz Beckenbauer

? Hristo Stoichkov

? Michel Platini

? Zico

? David Beckham

? Oliver Kahn

? Zinedine Zidane

? Ronaldo

? Ronaldinho

? Garrincha

? Leônidas da Silva

? Roberto Baggio

? Francesco Totti

? Christian Vieri

? Bobby Charlton

? Lionel Messi

? Wayne Rooney

? Cristiano Ronaldo

He is the man who shouldered the responsibility of giving the Brazilian football the solidity, it deserved. He was the first player to score 4 goals in World Cup soccer bout.

Pele

Pelé is the best footballer ever to play on the field. Zico was a part of the ’80s Brazilian squad that was widely considered to be the best team Brazil ever produced. He was named as the Italy’s Player of the Year in 2000 and in 2003. For these clubs, he managed to score 95 goals in total.

Franz Beckenbauer

One of the most well-known German footballers, Oliver Kahn was a goalkeeper who represented his country from 1994 to 2006. In his debut match, Pelé scored two goals. He represented France from 1994 to 2006, and in his 108 appearances, he scored 31 goals and was the play maker for hundred others. Christiano participated in the Euro 2008 and 2010 World Cup in which, team Portugal exited in the quarter finals and the second round, respectively.

Francesco Totti

Astonishing: In 1973, Marcello Donadini, a referee from Italy had to be hospitalized, after a player who didn’t quite like his decision bit him on his back.

Pelé

His full name is David Robert Joseph Beckham. Born in the poor suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he was influenced by another legend of the footballer, Zico. For Real Madrid, in 2010 – 11, he won the Copa del Rey and in La Liga, netted 40 times to create a record. Even though he was involved in many controversies, on and off the field, he is still regarded as one of the greatest footballer of all time.

Christian Vieri was an Italian center-forward, who was named by the great Pelé as one of the greatest living footballers ever. In June 2005, Ronaldinho captained the Brazilian side to their second FIFA Confederations Cup title by beating Argentina in final match 4 – 1. Roma, to win the first league title, since 1983. In the FIFA World Cup (2006), David Beckham led the English football team. In 1991, Manchester United, signed this 16-year-old teenager for its youth squad. In his long career, spanning 25 years, he scored 1,000 goals. Most unfortunately, Baggio missed his penalty kick. His conversion rate was so good that he managed to score an average of one goal per game in his world cup matches. He represented Italy in the World Cup 1994 and scored 5 goals for his team. He is often compared to Pelé, and hence was fondly know as ‘White Pelé’. He scored 27 goals, in all, for his national team. He is the current president of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). This skillful footballer has won many awards and acclaims. Winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2009 and 2010, Messi has won five league titles, and in the 2008 – 09 forming a triad with Andrés Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, scored 38 goals only to better the record, in next two seasons, to glorious 45 and 50. Many believed that Germany reached the 2002 World Cup finals not because the team was a great one, but because Oliver Kahn’s goalkeeping skills managed to keep Germany alive in the tournament. With his 7 goals in qualifiers, he took his team to 2006 World Cup, but couldn’t take it past the semi-finals. This pre-Pelé era player was known as the Rubberman because of his elastic body. At the age of 17, while playing for England against Australia, he scored and became the youngest Englishman to do so for his country. Italy lost to Brazil in the final match in penalty shoot out. In the year 1957, at the age of 15, Pelé was included in the Brazil national team for the World Cup. Records at the end of the 2006 – 07 season showed 23 goals against his name in 53 appearances for the United and the first title in four seasons for his club. Kahn also represented clubs like Karlsruher SC II, Karlsruher SC, and Bayern Munich.

Hristo Stoichkov is thought of as the most successful Bulgarian soccer player. For his skills with the ball and the goal scoring capacity he is known as the King of Soccer. His full name is Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima. Born on February 5, 1985 in Funchal, Portugal, Cristiano was signed by Sporting Lisbon at the age of 10 years. He won the title of ‘European Footballer of the Year’ twice, He is only the second footballer to win the World Cup as a player and coach, and the only one to win it as a captain and coach. His goal, in the Premier League, scored against Arsenal, 5 days before he turned 17, made him the youngest scorer in the history of the league. He retired from football in 2004.

Michel Platini

Wayne Rooney

INDEX

David Beckham

Zico, whose real name is Arthur Antunes Coimbra, played for Brazil from 1976 to 1988. Nine of these goals were scored in three World Cups. In 1999, Pelé was chosen as The Athlete of The Century, by the international Olympic committee. The most famous footballer of his time, Leônidas da Silva is also believed to the father of the Bicycle kick. Brazil went on to win the 2002 FIFA World Cup. In his club’s history, he became the first footballer to scale the ladder of Under (16, 17, 18), B-team, and first team in a single season. Can you recollect his real name in full? His real name is Edison Arantes do Nascimento.

A true specimen of the present day footballer, Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro has everlasting stamina that leaves his opponents worried