FOOTBALL needed a good World Cup after a negative build-up that focused on Sepp Blatter and his running of FIFA as well as protests in Brazil. So far this World Cup has delivered for the good of the game and the Scotsman Weekly Website Awards are here to reward the great and the good as well as the not so good.
On the field the normally cagey first round of group games have been replaced with some exciting encounters which have produced 11 wins from the 11 games played so far.
Some of the games superstars - Neymar, Robin van Persie, Lionel Messi and Karim Benzema have all scored with all the matches having an up tempo positive feel. There have also been shocks such as Costa Rica dumping Uruguay and Holland destroying the reigning champions Spain. Throw in some controversy over refereeing decisions and you have a tournament getting talked about world-wide.
Good World Cup week for – Football fans and goal line technology.
The kick off times are not perfect for our part of the world however those of us who have stayed up to watch the games have been rewarded with entertainment and goals. More than 3 goals per game have been scored with 37 notched in total so far.
No draws and only three teams from the 22 in action so far have failed to find the net – Cameroon, Greece and Honduras.
Please keep it the positivity all the way to the Final on July 13.
Forget the clumsy way it was used in the France-Honduras game as goal line technology made the right decision twice. Benzema’s shot had not crossed the line but goalkeeper Noel Valladares’ fumble did, so a goal was correctly given when it may not have been.
The only criticism is that no-one appeared to think of it being used within seconds of each other in the same incident and how that should be presented.
Bad World Cup week for – Spain and referee Yuichi Nishimura
The current World and European Champions are at a crossroads following their 5-1 defeat from Holland. The game started well and Xabi Alonso’s penalty had them in the lead, but van Persie’s diving header just before half-time turned things around.
The second half saw Spain unexpectedly, and spectacularly crumble, and now they have to decide if they are a team that has had its day or a team that had a bad day at the office.
Japanese whistler Nishimura gave the first penalty kick of the World Cup and he probably wished he hadn’t. In a fitting tribute to Rik Mayall, Brazil had a ‘Drop Dead Fred’ moment in the Croatian box when their striker fell to the ground and a spot-kick was awarded.
Neymar converted it to put the host nation 2-1 ahead. Nishimura then had the honour of disallowing a goal for the first time in this World Cup and he probably wished he hadn’t done that either.
Can’t see him getting to officiate at the Final on this display...
World Cup Team of the week – Netherlands
The Dutch have come up the result of the tournament so far with their 5-1 demolition of Spain and just edge out Costa Rica’s fine, if unexpected, 3-1 win over Uruguay.
The Netherlands had been a dirty and snarling side when they met the Spaniards in the Final of the 2010 competition and lost. However this time they played football and ran riot in the second half with four goals and across the world people sat up and took notice.
World Cup Manager of the week – Louis van Gaal
The Manchester United-bound manager adopted a 3-5-2 formation against Spain and he stuck to it despite his men falling behind.
Van Persie’s header just before half-time was the catalyst for everything to fall into place and it did. Arjen van Robben hit a double, Stefan de Vrij bundled the ball home and van Persie netted again to complete a great game.
If van Gaal can stop the Dutch from falling out with each other they have a chance.
World Cup Player of the week – Andrea Pirlo
So many performances to choose from – Neymar and Benzema scoring a brace each, van Persie and Robben against Spain, Joel Campbell excelling for Costa Rica - but everyone is purring over Pirlo.
The Italian has a touch of class in everything he does in midfield and his dummy to set up his side’s first goal against England was sublime.
Also anyone who can make the ball bend twice at the one free kick has something special about him.
World Cup Goal of the week – Robin van Persie
It came down to a choice between RVP’s first against Spain and Messi’s fine effort against Bosnia-Herzegovina, but the iconic image of van Persie diving full length to head home Daley Blind’s left wing cross just wins it.