Coral’s World Cup Worst XI From the Group Stage
As the tournament enters the knock-out stages, some of the World’s biggest superstars have treated us to dazzling displays. There has also been an incredible assortment of turkeys on show too, and Coral have decided to take you through the poor, hapless souls who made the final cut in our most underwhelming XI of the tournament so far.
Poor San Iker. Whilst elimination happened at the hands of the Netherlands and Chile, the goalkeeper’s butter fingers certainly contributed, as he conceded a shocking seven goals in two appearances. Once counted amongst the best between the sticks, comical Casillas has suffered an incredible fall from grace, and we can’t help but feel a little sorry for him. Not enough to save him from being awarded the No.1 jersey in our top flops XI though, ahead of even Russia’s fumbling Igor Akinfeev.
Flying full back Alves rarely disappoints Brazil fans going forward, but we have to admit he has often left the Samba Boys’ backline exposed in these finals, frequently threatening to provide banana-skin moments. The most memorable defensive lapse came against Cameroon, as Allan Nyom flew down the right past the Barcelona man to provide an all too easy assist for Joel Matip.
Three Lions fans had to expect a prominent England presence in this fantasy flop XI, and we think experienced Everton defender Jagielka was one of England’s biggest disappointments. Hapless at the back against Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani in the clash with Uruguay, the Toffees centre half was left out against Costa Rica to lick his wounds, and could lose his place permanently.
Everyone’s least favourite football villain, Pepe, placed Portugal in a ridiculous predicament after 37 minutes of their opening defeat to Germany. His hot-tempered head-butt on Thomas Muller left the navigators with 10 men. After seeing red, the Brazilian-born defender was banned for the second group game, returning against Ghana only to disappear for Asamoah Gyan’s goal in the second half.
Three Lions full back Baines had big shoes to fill as Ashley Cole was omitted from Roy Hodgson’s squad. England fans may have rued the decision, as the Everton man was repeatedly roasted by Italy’s right side, and seemed to be confused by his role in the squad, evidently preferring to play as a winger than a defender.
In his nation’s crunch clash with France, Valencia received the dubious honour of becoming the first Ecuadorian ever to be sent off in a World Cup. A shocking studs-up tackle on Lucas Digne saw him head for an early shower, with the Manchester United man having seen red twice in his last four international appearances, as La Tri crashed out of the tournament.
With three defeats in as many games, Cameroon’s World Cup campaign makes England look good. If one of the Indomitable Lions’ pride-less displays encapsulates their tournament, it is out-of-tune Barcelona man Song, who clearly forgot which sport he was playing after hitting Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic in the back. His efforts left his team reduced to 10 men, but he was hardly missed.
More of a cowardly Lion than a brave one, England’s captain provided one of the best assists of the tournament – for Uruguay. Haplessly heading on a goal kick for Luis Suarez to latch onto, Gerrard, having previously allowed Liverpool’s title campaign to ‘slip’ through his fingers, brought his comedy of errors to the international stage.
The amazing invisible Kagawa brought his famous disappearing act from the streets of Manchester to the stadiums of Brazil, as chief turkey in a squad full of disappointments for Japan. After passing to Ivory Coast players more than his teammates in the Blue Samurai’s first defeat, the Red Devil was deservedly dropped for the their draw with Greece.
The butt of twitter jokes (“Retweet if you’ve scored as many World Cup goals as Wayne Rooney”) before netting his first in Brazil, the Manchester United forward looked more of a £3-a-week player than a reported £300k-a-week man. After a dismal display on the left of midfield against Italy, we’ve placed Rooney safely up front in our top-flop XI, where he can do no harm. Hopefully we will avoid ever having to see him play in that position again.
Costa was public enemy number one during his ill-fated exploits in Brazil, on the receiving end of boos and verbal abuse from the home fans, and he will be no more popular after returning to Spain. Failing to net once, the Brazilian-born forward may have found an alternative career path as a beautician after flopping on football’s biggest stage, as he appeared to try his hand at waxing Xabi Alonso’s leg from the bench.