With the World Cup entering the business end, we look at 5 players that have been a disappointment not just for their respective teams but also to the football fans across the globe.
Super Mario’s selection as Italy’s striker in the world cup was a surprise to some given his abysmal form at Milan. He managed to score just 14 goals all season for the Rossonieri, whereas in comparison Ciro Immobile led the scoring charts with 22 goals. A large section of media felt it was apt for Serie A’s top scorer to lead the attack, however Prandelli continued to back Balotelli. With a goal against England many felt that the coach had got the decision right but what followed drew a lot of criticism for both Mario and Prandelli. Following an uninspired performance against Costa Rica, Prandelli came under pressure to play Immobile and he obliged by giving the ex-Torino striker a rare start. What surprised many was the fact that he refused to drop Mario, making neither striker look comfortable with their respective roles. Mario’s challenge on Pereira suggested that he was least interested in team affairs, what followed was a half-time substitution and criticism across media in Italy. It is highly unlikely that we have seen the last of Balotelli in an Italian shirt but it would be a treat to see him play with the same passion that he displayed in Euro 2012.
Arguably Africa’s finest player and world’s best central midfielder, he was expected to carry his side through in a relatively easier group this time around. Yaya’s performance has been described as one of a man playing through fatigue and coming across as laborious. Tiredness is understandable given the key role he played in City’s league triumph but it would have been a treat to watch the African player of the year put on a better show and work towards his side’s progress to the knockout phase.
Leading England’s attack can be a daunting task and one that very few such as Lineker and Shearer have carried out with impact. Rooney has always had a love-hate relationship with English fans after his outburst in the last World Cup in South Africa. With no goals to show in his previous two world cups, it was always going to be an uphill climb for the United forward. Though he seemed up for the challenge in the critical matches against Italy and Uruguay, one got the sense that he was trying a little too hard. He did get one constant monkey off his back with a goal against Uruguay though England had perhaps inched closer to exit by that moment. One wonders if Paul Scholes was right all along.
Most legends have come across one decision that they find extremely difficult to make, the one to call it a day. It becomes tougher when you’ve captained your nation to its biggest prizes. José Mourinho was first to point out that Iker was on a decline and in a much debated move, he promoted Diego Lopez as his number 1. The media attention fizzled out to a large extent when Carlo Ancelotti also decided to split responsibilities and not designate either Casillas or Lopez as his number one. There have been several instances where the Spaniard has been found wanting and none more so than the thrashing his team took at the hand of Dutch. Had he been on top of his game, it’s sensible to assume that the score line wouldn’t have been as humiliating. It is perhaps time that Casillas steps down from the national side and let the likes of De Gea take over the mantle. After all, he has been quoted that De Gea would send them all on a pension leave.
No player in the world today divides opinion more than Suarez. There is no denying the fact that he is arguably the most lethal forward in the game today. Though what amazes many is his ability to get into trouble at alarmingly regular intervals. Having suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Costa Rica he returned from injury to play the role of a talisman in the much awaited clash against England. Stepping up to the plate, he scored both the goals that literally carried his team across the line single handed. Against Italy there was an obvious needle between him and Chiellini, though Suarez continued to be a thorn in the Italian defence. When the match was heading to a boiling point is when Suarez went ahead and had his third bite at an opponent player and what followed has been discussed to death. Though Uruguay qualified it was an anti climax in the manner which they crashed out, definitely the biggest blame must be on their star. Irrespective of which language you speak it isn’t tough to see that Suarez was wrong in not just biting Chielini but with it went the hopes of a nation and that is indeed the biggest disappointment for a player.