World Cup: Spurs Should Sign Switzerland's Rodriguez & More We Learned

We look back on the ten things we learnt from day four of the tournament, and Leo Messi's first game...
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World Cup: Spurs Should Sign Switzerland's Rodriguez & More We Learned

1 - Switzerland are incredibly talented

Although they went behind against Ecuador, the Swiss have an incredibly talented and efficient squad that may well surprise a few teams. With an established defensive unit that won’t concede too heavily, they have now built on from their foundations, bringing through several exciting attacking players. The likes of Behrami, Inler, Shaqiri, Stocker, Drmic and Mehmedi are all transferring their form from top clubs sides to the national side, and while they’re highly unlikely to win the tournament, their journey in the groups and early knockout rounds will be well worth keeping an eye on.

2 - Ricardo Rodriguez is going to have some massive bids made for him this summer

Wolfsburg have an incredible squad, and more money than you’d expect them to have. One of their prize assets is Swiss left-back Ricardo Rodriguez, who posted the best figures in Europe of anyone in that position. Taking that ability in to the tournament, he began by setting up both of his sides goals in a 2-1 win, and therefore bringing even more attention on himself. We’ve said it plenty of times now, but there are lots of sides out there who need a new left full-back, and Rodriguez could well be top of many of those lists if he carries on in the fashion he started.

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3 - France, for once, are incredibly focussed and professional

They’re not fighting, striking, losing or failing to score - France, it seems, are focussed on perfuming at this World Cup after an embarrassing outing in 2010. An extremely professional display against Honduras saw them comfortably run away with the match 3-0 after a shaky start in front of goal. Benzema scored twice, and could have had another if not for an own goal being given against the opposition goalkeeper. Lloris was commanding, Varane and Sakho worked well together and both full-backs attacked and defended as planned. Valbuena and Griezmann were excellent too, making the omission of Nasri and loss of Ribery seem far less of a big deal than had originally been stirred up. Young and driven, this France side look prepared to well and truly dispel any demons remaining from South-Africa.

4 - Honduras are absolutely hilarious to watch

Honduras’ badge is simply a large ‘H’ on their shirts, but that looks somewhat intricate and create when compared to their style of football. Michael Cox of Zonal Marking has called them the least tactically sophisticated side at the tournament, entirely reliant on passing to the wings and delivering ball after ball in to the box. However, he haven’t really seen much of their attacking prowess thus far, with their hilariously heavy handed defensive approach taking centre-stage. In the pre-tournament friendly against England, we were given a glimpse of their intentions to simply kick their way through matches, and that was furthered against France almost single-handedly by Wilson Palacios.

5 - Jonathan Pearce doesn’t understand goal line technology

Here’s the thing about goal line technology - it’s foolproof. When it says the ball has crossed the line, it has. However, if your name is Jonathan Pearce and you’re commentating on a match for the national broadcaster, it doesn’t seem to be that simple. Karim Benzema guided the ball back across the goal, and as the ball bounced off the post and back across the goal, it had not yet crossed the line. But, when the Honduran goalkeeper fumbled the ball and it bounced over the line before being clawed back out, there had been a goal scored. Far from rocket science, but because the technology shows both the points at which the ball has not crossed the line and then when it had, Pearce could no longer cope, and proceeded to embark on a full ten minute tirade against the technology that had done its job perfectly well, making himself sound more and more of a prized clown the longer he continued. It was really something to behold.


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6 - Sabella should never, ever, use that horrendous 5-3-2 formation again

Argentina were supposed to come in to the match playing an attractive 4-3-3 geared toward getting the very best out of one of the greatest players to have ever kicked a ball, but for some reason, manager Sabella decided to revert to a much more conservative 5-3-2, which sucked all joy out of the occasion. Everyone at home and in the Maracana was anticipating another great game, but for 45 minutes, Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina looked like it was going to comfortably be the worst game of the tournament thus far. Luckily, and much needed, Sabella changed the system at half-time and the game picked up. Slightly hamstrung because of the fitness of Gago in midfield, Sabella needs to find a way of balancing his defensive wishes with the attacking talent Argentina have in abundance.

7 - It took him an hour, but Messi finally got his showpiece goal

As discussed for the first-half. Argentina really weren’t up to much. This directly affected poor Lionel Messi, who was attempting to score every time he touched the ball by taking on every player possible, which obviously wasn’t going to end well. He was double, sometimes even triple marked, and the Argentinian formation wasn’t helping him find the room he need in order to properly affect the game in the manner he clearly wished to. After half-time however, and especially after Gonzalo Higuain was brought in to the game, Messi started to have far more joy on the ball, finding pockets of space to play in that weren’t there before the changes were made. Shortly after the hour mark, he picked the ball up on the edge of the box, skipped past three defenders, actually making two of them run in to each other in the process, and curled - with the aid of a slight deflection - a trademark left footed shot in to the bottom corner of the goal. Estádio do Maracanã exploded, and Leo Messi had announced his arrival at the 2014 World Cup.

8 - Bosnia-Herzegovina have to go back to the attacking play that they qualified with

Perhaps conscious of who they were facing in their opening game, Bosnia-Herzegovina abandoned the attacking play that had seen them qualify in favour of a much more conservative, defensive approach. Alone up top with no room to play in or service to feed from, Dźeko was largely ineffective, much more used to playing with a partner up top as he did in qualifying, and as he does at club level, too. In order for them to make it out of the group, faith in their attacking talent has to be restored. It would be much more admirable to be knocked out at the group stages having had a go, rather than surrendering with a whimper.

9 - Miralem Pjanić is unbelievably good

Any one who watched Serie A and Roma with any sort of regularity will already know this, but Miralem Pjanić is one of the most exciting goalscoring playmakers in the game at present. Coming off the back of another impressive season in Italy, where many people have said Tottenham made the wrong decision in signing Lamela rather than him, Pjanić has taken that form right in to the World Cup, head and shoulder above anybody else for Bosnia-Herzegovina in their opener against Argentina. As long as his teammates are comfortable in deferring to him when they launch attacks, that form is likely to grow and continue, hopefully aided by the renewed attacking nature of the Bosnia-Herzegovina tactics from qualifying, rather than the reserved tactics we witnessed last night.

10 - Gary Lineker looks great in his reading glasses

Every time his script calls for him to read anything that isn’t his autocue, Gary Lineker has to reach for his rounded glasses before continuing. In fairness, they look fantastic on him, and whoever has helped him pick that particular pair has done an incredible job. As most glasses wearers will attest to, finding a frame that compliments your face is far from an easy task, but Lineker has managed it extremely well. He’s a man of a certain age now, and between the grey hair and glasses, he’s ageing extremely gracefully.

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