THIS TIME next week it will all be over and the winners of the 2014 World Cup will be known. The past week has seen two European and two South American countries reach the semi-final stage after more drama, heartache and world wide headlines.
Next Sunday’s Final could be an all European affair between Germany and the Netherlands, an all South American meeting between Argentina or hosts Brazil or a European versus South American contest.
Only the Netherlands have never won the competition before with Germany looking to end a 24-year wait for glory, Brazil 20 years and Argentina going back to 1986 for their last success.
As for our Scotsman Weekly Website Awards this week, it has been a great seven days for shot-stoppers across the globe, along with joy and despair for the hosts as well as the most remarkable substitution in World Cup football.
Good World Cup week for – Goalkeepers
The stars of this World Cup have been the shot-stoppers, even the ones that have played for losing teams such as the USA’s Tim Howard, Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico and Keylor Navas of Costa Rica.
The goalies of the winning sides have not been too shabby either with Germany’s Manuel Neuer outstanding in his role that he combines with sweeping up after his defenders.
Children around the world will being buying their replica jerseys instead of their attacking colleagues.
Bad World Cup week for – Neymar
Brazil will find out this week if they are a one man team after Neymar had a vertebrae broken in a challenge by Colombia’s Juan Zuniga and was ruled out for the rest of the tournament. Neymar has provided most of the threat for the hosts in the tournament so far and now Brazil will have to rely on Fred and Hulk to see off Germany.
If their form is anything to go by the Bad World week for could be staying in Brazil next week.
World Cup Team of the week – Germany
Germany made the semi-finals and made the French look pedestrian and ordinary on Friday. It was hoped that a game reminiscent of the 1982 meeting between the sides would take place and the exciting young French side would put right that wrong that was done on that occasion in Spain, however after Mats Hummels’ early goal it was all but game over.
It is stereotypical to talk about ruthlessness and efficiency however Germany progressed to the final four with a display that was ruthless and efficient.
World Cup Manager of the week – Louis van Gaal (Netherlands)
Van Gaal won the World Cup Manager of the week last week for the brave substitution of Robin van Persie that turned their tie against Mexico. He raised the stakes on Saturday with the even braver substitution of goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen!
With extra time set to end against Costa Rica and penalties looming van Gaal whipped Cillessen off and stuck Tim Krul on because he reckoned his side had a better chance of winning with the substitute goalkeeper on.
It worked and van Gaal looks like a genius. If it had failed he may have had one really upset Cillessen on his hands.
World Cup Player of the week – Former Falkirk goalkeeper Tim Krul
One time Falkirk shot-stopper Krul has touched the ball only the twice in this World Cup however he has created a piece of history by being the goalkeeper brought on for the penalty shoot-out.
Krul came on in injury time of extra time to face the shoot out and saved efforts from Bryan Ruiz and then Michael Umana to send Holland through.
His contribution to the World Cup is insignificant in terms of playing time however his contribution to his side reaching the semi-finals was huge.
World Cup Goal of the week – David Luiz (Brazil)
Goals are becoming harder to come by as the pressure increases and only five were scored in the four quarter-finals.
Luiz’s goal for Brazil was the best of this stage and would be a contender at any other week as well. His stunning free kick from 30 yards flew home against Colombia and easily outshone Hummels’ winner for Germany which was a good header but nothing spectacular.
Thiago Silva’s effort had came off his knee, James Rodriguez notched a goal back with a penalty however Gonzalo Higuain’s winner for Argentina against Belgium was a fine hit.