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Six Things That We Loved About The 2014 World Cup

Tuesday 15th July 2014
The furor surrounding the political climate in Brazil and stadium building schedules being pushed to the very last minute, hung a dark cloud over the World Cup prior to the opening game. However, the bleakness and negativity scurried away with its tail between its legs as soon as the first ball was kicked as international football once again proved it can provide high calibre entertainment.  Here are Ian Reynolds, sometimes slightly alternative, highlights of the 2014 World Cup.

1. Thomas Muller's Socks.

Thomas Muller has once again proved his goal scoring prowess at a World Cup finals by netting an impressive five goals, only one goal behind Golden Boot winner, Columbia's James Rodriguez . Having watched Muller fairly regularly for both Bayern and Germany over the last few years, i believe i have pinpointed the source of the 'Flase 9's' goal-scoring power. AND ITS ALL IN HOW HE WEARS HIS SOCKS (scientific research pending) . Muller struts around a football pitch and finds space in opposition defenses possibly better than anyone in the world at this minute, but no one else does it with their socks rolled down around the ankles. Not only does how he wears his socks make Muller look cooler than most on the football pitch, it also makes him a better player. With the breeze cooling his exposed shin's, Muller needs not feel restricted like some of his high sock wearing peers, freeing him to only focus upon ghosting into space and passing the ball into the back of the net, time and time again to the bewilderment of opposition defenders and goalkeepers. Perhaps any attacking players who wear their socks raised just below the knee and are struggling for form on the international stage, should consider lowering their socks to expose some shin and calf, akin to a smutty Victorian picture. *Cough* Rooney *Cough*

2. The Referee's Magic Spray.

The water based spray that World Cup referees have been spraying all over the place like frustrated Banksy's, everytime they have blown for a free kick has impressed me greatly. This practice has been common place in football in the Americas for a number of years now, but has for some reason never transferred over to Europe, and it needs to right away!! For practical reasons it stops the defending wall encroaching four yards forward as soon as the ref's back is turned, something which has infuriated me about the game more than Samir Nasri ever could, and that's saying a lot. However, possibly the best use for the referees marker spray is when he accidentally tags a players sparkling new boots. Dutch defender, Martins Indi, looked livid when his boots came in contact with the white foam whilst lining up to form a defensive wall against Spain. The spray should be implemented and used  by referees world wide this instant as it can provide a referee with a deterrent to players for surrounding him before a controversial free kick decision. Not to mention the entertainment that can be provided by the different styles that will be developed by different referees. A machine like perfect straight line deployed by German ref's to a more flamboyant style deployed by our more Mediterranean European cousins. Next time Cristiano Ronaldo wants to get in a refs face about a decision given against his team, he might just think twice if he thinks his sparkling new Nike boots might ruined by an vindictive referee.

3. Acapella Brazilians

I'm not one of those fans who gets carried away and claims certain players don't care or show lack of commitment in they don't bellow out the national anthem. Each individual has a way of preparing for a match, some will use the national anthem to push their chest out high and sing the anthem of their homeland out of pride, in an attempt to try and add that extra edge, like Stuart Pearce used too. Some will use the national anthem to remain quiet in order to soak up the atmosphere around them as a way to try to keep composed and controlled. Others are just that focused upon the game ahead and what is required of them that they refuse to break concentration to sing the anthem. Look at Gary Neville, not once can i remember him ever signing God Save The Queen as an England player, yet would anyone ever claim he was not one of the most committed England players to ever wear an England shirt during his career? i think not. However, i cant deny being impressed by the rousing rendition of Hino Nacional Brasileiro by players and fans alike. Sung with such pride and emotion from poster boy Neymar to a favela boy lucky enough to get into the stadium, it broke down the p,layer fan divide, even if only for a month. Then undoubted highlight of the expression of Brazilian nationalism was, in my view, the acapella version of the second verse each time the anthem was sung. As fantastic as this was to witness and would have felt for Brazilian's to witness and be part of, could this intense emotion everytime Brazil played drained the players and been a factor in their collapse against Germany? I would argue maybe so.

4. Costa Rica.

Costa Rica caught the imagination of every football fan in the World Cup, as long as they were not playing against your nation of course. In a team who's most recognisable stars going into the tournament were Fulham's  Brain Luiz, who had just come of the back of another disappointing season with Fulham and Arsenal prospect Joel Campbell who had spent the season on loan at Olympiakos of Greece. They surged through the group stages  destroying Uruguay, beating Italy without ever looking in too much danger and had already qualified when they drew against England (a great point for the Three Lions). They went on to beat Greece on penalties and then took the Dutch to the wire in the quarter finals, eventually losing cruelly in a penalty shootout. They are a football hipsters dream, playing three at the back, employing a ruthless offside trap, a kit sponsored Lotto and the excellent short sleeve wearing Keylor Navas. The teams from CONCACAF represented their region extremely well in this World Cup (except for Honduras who's tactics resembled a prison football side from the early 1980's), no more so than Costa Rica. I hope we get to see them again in four years time, and that they will still be sponsored by Lotto, despite the teams new found popularity.

5.Tim Vickery On BBC TV.

Tim Vickery has been arguably one of the best and most knowledgeable football journalist's in the world for some years. Regardless if  it is writing for various publications and websites worldwide or on BBC's World Football Phone In, his knowledge of the game and awareness of social context is first class. The more his is on our TV screens the better.

6. No Complaints About The Ball.

For as long as i can remember now each World Cup Ball has been criticised by forwards and goalkeepers alike. Finally Adidas seems to have got it right this time. The ball played like a football should.  It had some movement in the air, but the right amount. Not like the  Jabulani used in South Africa which had the ball dynamics of a fly away on a windy beach in December. I haven't heard one complaint from a disgruntled free kick taker, or a confused looking goalkeeper picking the ball out his net after getting beaten by a shot which changed direction fifteen times. Hopefully Adidas will just rename this ball in four years so we don't have any problems again, but if they do feel the need to re-design DONT BALLS IT UP.

These are the things that pleased me most about the World Cup we have just loved and lost. I'm sure that most people would have preferred some of the great goals that have been scored or the more dramatic moments of the World Cup, but I prefer a nice defensive stale mate, long live the nil-nil!
Ian Reynolds
29 year old Tranmere Rovers fan, Serie A connoisseur and all round football nerd. Any feed back regarding any piece submitted by myself, positive or negative, is greatly appreciated. I talk about football on Twitter, a lot. Follow me @Ian_Reynolds87

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