playing possession based football as they thrashed Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. In Premier League teams like Liverpool and Manchester have successfully adopted different styles of counter-attacking football. While coming to the World Cup the European champions failed to make necessary changes in their playing style and in the end conceded seven goals in the tournament.

It’s also unfair to place the burden on Tiki-Taka for Spain’s exit as Vicente Del Bosque’s made few mistakes in team selection too. He will be ruing the fact he used Diego Costa ahead of the experienced David Villa who was the joint top scorer in the last world cup. The Atletico Madrid striker who netted in 36 goals last season failed to make an impression in Brazil and his only contribution was winning was a penalty against Holland. Villa who was playing his last world cup featured in the last group game against Australia scoring the opening goal and while substituted the left pitch in tears.

Spain weren’t alone from their continent to bow out in the group stages. Portugal also left Brazil in a disappointing fashion. Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal were thrashed by four goals in their first game while they failed to get all three points against USA and even a victory in their last game was not enough for them. They never played together as a team and there was enough evidence to suggest there wasn’t a proper plan in place.

Ronaldo was rumored to be carrying an injury and was far from his best. Pepe’s absence in the second game after being sent-off against Germany made them more vulnerable. But even in a goal and an assist the former Manchester United player would have been disappointed with amount of opportunities he wasted against Ghana which could have helped them sneak into the round of 16.

Italy’s fate was much similar to their last world cup. Though this time around they started campaign with victory over England but faded off gradually. Their failure to take Costa Rica serious in their second game and planning to hold on to a draw against Uruguay was their undoing. They left the tournament with nothing but disappointment. Even Pirlo who was Italy’s playmaker when they won the 2006 world cup in Germany couldn’t rescue their ship.

For a change England played some wonderful football but this time senior players let them down. The 19 year old Raheem Sterling played some exquisite football against Italy but the defense was their villain. The key game against Uruguay was decided by Gerrard’s mistake. The England captain who usually be at the top of his had a forgettable campaign which added to England’s woes. 

Ivory Coast will be cursing the referee for denying them a spot in the knockout stage. They only needed a draw against Greece and just minutes away from qualifying to the next round. But the former Celtic striker Samaras tipped himself inside the box and they were awarded a penalty. Greece accepted the gift leaving the Ivory Coast fans in tears. It’s a shame that the likes of Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, Salmon Kalou and Dider Drogba had to go home without a place in the round of 16.

Few Goalkeepers, Crossbar & a Goal Post

This World Cup will always be remembered for the most even played matches in knock out round. The so called “minnows” who progressed after the group stages played their heart out and showcased some brilliant football. By the end of round of 16 two matches were decided in penalty shoot-out’s and three of them went to the last seconds of extra time to find a winner.