When Luiz Felipe ‘Big Phil’ Scolari, the manager of the Brazilian National team decided to omit Brazilian born Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa from his 2013 Confederations Cup Squad (which in all intents and purposes was his World Cup squad picked early – barring injuries), the striker then made himself available for Spain. Cue a season from the gods, from his point of view, taking on the mantle and some from the departed Radamel Falcao, he helped to fire Atletico to the La Liga title and the final of the Champions League, though injury meant he played a minimal part in the showpiece event. This form understandably prompted Spanish coach, Vicente Del Bosque, to call him up to the national team and eventually their World Cup squad. He started both their group games and has flopped. He did not look comfortable in their tactical set up (the national side played very differently to his club team) and he missed chances and looked out of sync with the rest of the team. It had been suggested that bringing him in has disrupted the Spanish camp, with players such as David Villa and Fernando Llorente (who did not even get into the final 23 man squad) sidelined for their now adopted countryman. It was very surprising that when Spain needed goals, their all time top scorer David Villa wasn’t used (for some reason the busted flush, in my opinion – Fernando Torres was) as well as Cesc Fabregas being left on the bench for 180 minutes, who has a very good midfield goalscoring record and has previously been deployed (with success) as a false nine for La Roja. Yes the players did not perform, but the managers seeming obsession with Diego Costa has been costly and will probably lead to an inevitable resignation, which is sad because Del Bosque is an outstanding manager with a great record (club and national) but sometimes things just do not work out as is the case in this World Cup. He can leave with his held high with his record of a World Cup and European Championship in the Spanish Federation’s trophy cabinet. Weirdly if you watch Brazil now they could so do with a player of Diego Costa’s quality if you look at their current forward options, but maybe that was Big Phil’s plan altogether snub him so he can wreak havoc within one of his main rivals – hmmm – they say he is a very clever man is our Scolari.
So onto England who are well and truly on the brink – well actually pretty much in it stretching out for a very helpful Italian hand to pull them out of the mire – this is not going happen by the way (well 99% chance anyways). England lost to Italy 2-1 and yesterday to Uruguay 2-1, in both games the three lions clawed their way back to 1-1 before conceding again in amateurish fashion. They could have got away with two draws, maybes even a draw and a win but they are an average side as I said in my previous blog before the game against Italy link below:-
Yes Luis Suarez was imperious when presented with the opportunities to score but defensively England were poor especially centrally, not that the midfield helped out, though Jordan Henderson tried his best to cover the ground. Roy Hodgson’s men never really put their stamp on the game until a period in, around and after Rooney equalised in the 75th minute. They then allowed Uruguay to get back into the game and a mistake by the Captain, Steven Gerrard, along with poor positioning from the centre backs allowed Liverpool’s (had to be really) Luis Suarez to win the game for the Copa America champions. Personally I don’t think England have been that bad this tournament (they have been no worse than Brazil in my opinion), however I feel that they are not streetwise enough and struggle with their game management and know how to win / close out a game. They do have a good crop of young players to pick from in the future such as Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana. The manager will probably look at himself too as the tactics have not worked, playing players out of position and a lack of cover for an already targeted vulnerable defence. As mentioned there are a few factors that will need to be looked at if England want to become more successful in the future. One thing that you can’t legislate for is luck (they say you make your own) but I have to say in my opinion the referee in the Uruguay game was poor, especially if you factor in the fact that Diego Godin commited two stonewall yellow card offences but the Spanish referee (from Madrid), Carlos Velasco Carballo (he will definitely be in FIFA’s good books) failed to produce the second one to the Atletico Madrid centre back (hmmm!!! a lot of Madrid there) – a crucial decision that on any other day is easy but he bottled it. As said England do have a miniscule chance of getting to the knockout stage, two Italian wins are needed as well as an England victory over Costa Rica which may need to be by a number of goals to overturn a goal difference deficiency, well you never know a 1% chance – FORZA ITALIA #lotsandlotsofclutching.
ps If things do go wrong (as is very very very likely) at least Wimbledon is round the corner and an Andy Murray blog will be out over the weekend.
Italy 3 Costa Rica 0
Switzerland 0 France 2
Honduras 1 Ecuador 2
Let me know what you think – you can also tweet me @biggishmouth or go to my facebook page at www.facebook.com/thebiggishmouth