Some fantastic goals, some sparkling performances, some nerve wracking finishes, and a cocktail of flamboyant yet tactically sound displays which left us craving for more, the 2014 FIFA World Cup will go down in the history books as one of the best in recent times. There were many who let us down with their poor displays, but we chose to dig out those 5 men who failed to stamp their mark on the biggest stage of them all and buckled under the weight of expectation.
Fred had his task cut out from the very beginning and following the likes of Jairzinho, Careca, Romario, Bebeto and Ronaldo was never going to be a walk in the park. But Fred played more like it was a walk in the park indeed as his technical deficiences came to the fore and all the Brazilian No.9 managed was a meagre one goal and had to be the subject of vicious booing from the home fans when he came off against Germany in the semi final.
2. Mario Balotelli
Super Mario began the tournament on a bright note with the winning goal against England but missed two good early chances against Costa Rica which could have sent Italy to the knockout stages, and not for an early journey back home. Balotelli returned to his former volatile self against Italy when he was booked in the first half for a silly challenge, and Cesare Prandelli had no choice than to sub him off at half time.
3. Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard could not set a foot wrong in Liverpool colors last season, but looked out of sorts for England in Brazil. The England captain was overshadowed by Andrea Pirlo’s genius against Italy and had a game to forget against Uruguay when he inadvertently assisted both of Luis Suarez’s goals for the South Americans.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
The World Player of the year suffered tendonitis in his left knee shortly before the tournament and looked knackered after a gruelling season with Real Madrid in which he inspired the Galacticos to the La Decima. Ronaldo had little support from his Portugese teammates in an attacking sense, but the constant remonstration with his teammates and the apparent disinterest didn’t help his cause either. And if Portugal had any thin hopes of progressing on goal difference, Ronaldo missing golden chances against Ghana in their final game dashed all hopes.
5. Eden Hazard
For a player as good as Eden Hazard, the World Cup was one to forget. Hazard performed one of the most impressive disappearing acts at the tournament and went missing in Belgium’s crucual quarter final clash with Argentina before he was substituted in the second half. So much for leading a “Golden generation” in Belgium football!