Rafa Benítez Blog RSS Rafa Benítez Blog

Jun 2014
11:46 Comments (0)
Surprises and goodbyes, by Rafa Benítez

Brazil 2014

Rafa Benítez

We intend to show you the surprises, although there is less than in round one and give you an insight into why some teams are on there way back home and why football continues through it's unpredictability to be so appealing and World Cup 14 is no different.

If we start in Group A, Brazil had many tribulations in their tie with Mexico. We are all talking about Ochoa their goalkeeper but the host team lacked fluidity in either defense or attack. We meant they conceded chances and only created there own through individual play rather than good teamwork. This could be a problem in later rounds

Mexico and Croatia have shown they are good teams and their last game clash will be very interesting. Cameroon had problems all over the pitch and some individual quality was not enough to stop them going home early.

The Group B surprises continued, Spain's loss to Holland was followed by defeat to Chile who had a remarkably controlled aggressive pressing game all over the pitch and with great speed on the counter attack. This pace in defense and attack was the difference in their deserved victory.
Holland beat Australia but suffered more than expected. Holland confirmed what they had shown against Spain: they have a good team, quality players and great confidence. This can be determinant in the next stage.

And in Group C, Columbia qualified over the Ivory Coast with little difficulty, Columbia work hard in defense and have attacking players who can make a difference such as James Rodriguez, who is good on the counterattack and also in the penalty box. Ivory Coast is a good team with fighting spirit and they’re not afraid to shoot from outside the box as they showed to good effect against Columbia. Japan and Greece had some good individuals but did not show the teamwork to progress.

In Group D, Costa Rica have been the big surprise and their great defensive work in a 1-5-4-1 alongside their commitment and desire helped them overcome a Uruguayan team without Suárez, but, in the second game against Italy they controlled the game, while there line of five played in the first half a high risk offside game. In the second half they matched Italy's tactical changes and substitutions and deserved their victory. In another big game Uruguay with Luis Suárez back played England, who could not reproduce the speed they had shown against Italy. Uruguay pressed them all over the field with Lodeiro and then Cavani keeping a close watch on Gerrard. England could not find a solution and defensive mistakes helped Suárez put England on the plane home. Unbelievable but true.

In Group E, France have been superior in their two games so far and their speed and movement finished off Switzerland who left space that France exploited on the counter attack. With a 1-4-3-3 system, Benzema often came in from the left while the defenders were busy with Giroud. His pace and quality earning him two goals, one disallowed, as well as a missed penalty. Ecuador beat Honduras without too many problems and Switzerland will hope to make less defensive mistakes when these two clash.


In Group F, Iran did not read the script before their game with Argentina. Messi’s goal in the very last minute heeled them secure the points despite not playing well. They will have to improve but remain one of the favourites but when you have Messi that is no surprise and if Messi fails to score they have Higuain and Agüero not bad at all. Nigeria beat Bosnia to send them home early which was no real surprise. So Argentina and Nigeria are through despite not being at their best yet.

Group G had another surprise when Germany could only draw with Ghana but Miroslav Klose broke the World Cup goals record and this fantastic professional deserves our applause and USA’s draw with Portugal kept this group wide open and again showed us the unpredictability of football. Ronaldo one of the stars of world football has not yet played well and Portugal, with a new possible hamstring injury in this case of Postiga, may be out already.

Finally Group H were Belgium seems certain to progress after beating Russia. They have a good team with players from every major league. Mertens and Hazard can make a difference while Fellaini is always a threat at set plays, giving them another alternative. Algeria beat Korea with three first half goals in a very entertaining game. Algeria beat South Korea with three first half goals in a very entertaining game which saw tactical changes from their first game. This time Algeria displayed a defensive line of five that in reality was a line of three due to the offensive characters of their wingbacks. They showed pace and mobility and good quality on the ball particularly Feghouli. South Korea fought hard in the second half to get a 2-4 result, but it wasn't quite enough.

So a World Cup with surprises but maybe not, as we've said no European team has ever won in South America! Let's see what round three brings us.