A lot has happened since the end of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. As the world watched countries like Chile and Costa Rica challenged some of the worlds greatest teams and breathed life into their dormant soccer programs. Players who excelled during the world cup have gained increased recognition from top teams and failure on the tactical level have left coaches no choice but to resign from their positions.
Costa Rica was placed in one of the “groups of death” with some of the top teams in the world, and was written off as an easy win for their opponents. However, the world was shocked when they placed top in their group defeating Uruguay in their opening group match 3-1, Italy 1-0 tying their final group match against England.
The success of the Costa Rican squad during the World Cup can be placed on the shoulders of their goal keeper Keylor Navas who allowed only two goals in five matches. His key saves at decisive moments in matches allowed Costa Rica to show their true talent on the opposite side of the pitch.
Keylor Navas had previously played in Levante UD in Spain, however because of his outstanding play in the World Cup, he has grabbed the attention Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Real Madrid was hesitant at first in completing a deal with Navas because their current keeper Iker Casillas had too proven himself in international and club play. At the beginning of August, it was announced that Navas would play for Real Madrid next season signing a six year contract with the club. Real Madrid hopes that by acquiring Navas, it will push current keeper Iker Casillas to play to a higher standard to keep his starting spot next season.
Real Madrid have their sights set on another World Cup superstar, Toni Kroos. The German has played his football in the powerhouse club of Bayern Munich. The Champion League winners Real Madrid spent €25 million to lure Kroos to Spain. Real Madrid was not done with the big payouts and player acquisitions, also signing James Rodriguez of Columbia to their lineup to accompany Kroos.
Luis Suarez’s controversial bite on Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini ended his World Cup journey but did not deter Barcelona from acquiring the talented striker. Suarez is currently serving a four month international suspension because of the incident, which will result in him missing the beginning of the season for Barcelona. Suarez is currently appealing his suspension with FIFA and a verdict is expected by next week if the punishment will stand. Suarez made the trade to Barcelona from Liverpool for £75 million as La Liga acquires yet another standout player.
On the National Level, countries who are considered soccer’s royalty have gone through various coaching changes as a result of the fallout of the World Cup. Both Italy’s Cesare Prandelli and Brazil’s Luiz Felipe Scolari have resigned as coaches. Prandelli’s retirement was premeditated by Italy’s failure to advance into the Round of 16 in Brazil. Scolari also resigned as a reflection of his coaching in the World Cup, leading Brazil to their worst defeat in International history; a 7-1 loss against the Germans, who would later go on to win the tournament.
The German striker Miroslav Klose has announced his retirement from international football. He has played 137 games since his debut in 2001, and has 71 goals for his country. He holds the record for most goals scored in international play by any German player, and is also the World Cups record goal scorer. Klose announced his retirement with these words “Lifting the trophy in Brazil was the fulfilment of a childhood dream for me. I cannot think of a better time to bring the international chapter of my career to a close.”
The runner ups in the tournament, Argentina have also undergone a coaching change after Alejandro Sabella’s did not renew his contract at the conclusion of the World Cup. The former Barcelona coach, Gerardo Martino, has been announced as the successor to Sabella and will look to lead the team to another successful world cup campaign in 2018.
The former World Champion’s Spain, failed to advance to the round of 16 and quickly exited the tournament in the group stage. The Spanish Coach Vicente del Bosque, who was once praised by his nation, is now under fire as Spain did not perform as expected. Del Bosque has not given into the pressure like Prandelli and Scolari, but rather has committed to remaining Spain’s coach into qualifying for the 2016 European Cup. He knows the path to rebuilding Spain’s team will not be easy, especially with the announcement that Xavier Hernández Creus has retired from international play. Del Bosque said that the midfielder Xavi was more important to the national side than the coach himself. Spain has a difficult task ahead of them in preparing for the European Cup in 2016.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup was a tournament filled with excitement, disappointment and triumph. Players who excel in this tournament can have their careers changed forever; and those who fail to perform are faced with their countries disappointment. The European Championship in 2016 is being eagerly awaited as the European countries begin qualification.