Views from France, Sweden and Germany

icon wcrunningcup11 July ~ In part two of our look at how other football magazines around Europe have viewed the 2014 World Cup, we hear from France, Sweden and Germany. Ali Farhat of So Foot isn't sold on the idea of referees using the vanishing spray for free-kicks and feels Cameroon were the biggest let-down of the tournament. Jesper Högstrom from Offside compares Uruguay's antics to those of children but was impressed with the standard of goalkeeping while Christoph Biermann from 11 Freunde just felt sorry for Brazil's players during their semi-final thrashing.

Ali Farhat ~ So Foot, France
What has been your favourite moment of the World Cup so far?
I won't be original with my answer, but it was the goal of James Rodríguez. Everything was perfect: the way he controlled the ball, spun and shot. A masterpiece.

Who were the worst team in your opinion?
It's between Honduras and Cameroon but I would choose for the latter, who were a huge letdown. It's not normal to have a large number of quality players, with major clubs around Europe, and to play so badly. I don't think that coach Volker Finke should bear all the responsibility for this mess. The situation was very bad before he came, and will continue to be when he's gone. There are things wrong with the Cameroon federation that should lead to mass sackings. In a sense, I can understand that Samuel Eto'o and the others wouldn't take the flight to the Brazil before they solved the problem of their missing bonuses. Officials lied to the players, who decided to strike as is their right. But after that you have to be professional which whey didn't do, as we saw on the pitch.

As the free-kick spray has been popular, is there another idea you would like to see used for matches?
I heard that it will be used in the Champions League, from next season but don't know if it's a really good idea. It's good to see defenders not being allowed to take a single forward step over the limit but I have the impression that it disturbs the free-kick taker. So maybe the referees should use it only for the defenders, not the attackers – or let the taker erase the foam before he shoots.  

Were you surprised by England's failure?
Not really. England's problem is one shared by lots of teams during international competitions: they were acting like individuals, and not like a team. But I think this failure has deep roots – in England you don't have a real renewal of generation. There are young and talented players but it's not enough. You must have more youngsters able to challenge the older stars for a first-team place. Plus there is too much money in the Premier League in transfer fees and wages that makes club less inclined to take risks with giving young players a chance. And I think that England has to rebuild its own scouting and coaching system.  

Which non-famous player you have been most impressed by?
Keylor Navas, the Costa Rica goalkeeper, was amazing. When he was facing a striker, it wasn't a big deal for him if it was Mario Balotelli, Edinson Cavani, Wayne Rooney or Robin van Persie he was equal to them – they didn't seem like stars when they were facing him.

Which teams will people in France be supporting now?
I think that people in France won't support a team, but one or several players who are still playing. I also think that the people were thinking about a final configuration than supporting a team, hoping for Brazil v Argentina or Germany v Netherlands, rather than the final we have.

What was your reaction to Brazil's thrashing by Germany?
It shows how important football is for the Brazilian people, but it's too much. It's not normal for the players to feel such pressure. After the game against Chile, Willian was still crying because of his missed penalty kick. Thiago Silva didn't want to take his penalty – he is the captain, but lost his nerve. In a sense, it's good that Germany won 7-1, and not 3-0. At 3-0 you would have some angry people and more violence. With a thrashing like this, you have a whole country in shock, and have no strength anymore to go outside and break everything they see. There will be some demonstrations after the World Cup, but in a sense, it's good that they won't be related  to football.

Who were France's best and worst players?
The best players were Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena. Benzema for his goals, Valbuena for his impact in the game. Patrice Evra made an effort as always, but he's too old now. I don't think that there was a bad player in this team, though – they are developing together and will be a real force at home at Euro 2016. (After the last group games, I noticed that the English press were already discussing possible teams for 2018. They seem to have forgotten that there is another competition before then, in two years' time…)

Jesper Högstrom ~ Offside, Sweden

What has been your favourite moment of the World Cup so far ?

When Giorgio Chiellini pulled down his collar to demonstrate the marks from Luis Suárez's teeth to the referee and Gaston Ramirez ran up to pull it up again. When you watch the World Cup with small children, it's rewarding when they can relate immediately to what goes on on the screen.

Which non-famous player you have been most impressed by?
Several goalkeepers, chiefly Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico, Tim Howard of USA and Keylor Navas of Costa Rica. DeAndre Yedlin's effort as a substitute for the US against Belgium impressed me as well.

Apart from Brazil in the semi-final, who were the worst team in your opinion?
It has to be Cameroon, if disarray on a comical scale isn't to be counted as a virtue.

As the free-kick spray has been popular, is there another idea you would like to see used for matches?
Yes, pausing the clock we the ball goes out of play – in stoppage time at the very least. The flagrant time-wasting of, for instance, Uruguay against England or Argentina against Belgium without the referee adding any extra time made it obvious that the current system isn't working.

Were you surprised by England's failure?
Yes, especially after the game against Italy, which, in periods, seemed like the best English performance since 1996.

What was your reaction to Brazil's thrashing by Germany?
Jubilation at seeing Brazil's self-delusion exposed mixed with pity and unease at the brutality of the exposition.

Which teams got the most support from people in Sweden during the tournament?
I would say Germany. Noticeable that the stereotypical idealisation of Brazil evaporated, despite the best attempts of Swedish television to wallow in it.

Christoph Biermann ~ 11 Freunde, Germany
What has been your favourite moment of the World Cup so far?
Germany's players consoling their Brazilian opponents in a very serious and compassionate way after the semi-final.

Which non-famous player you have been most impressed by?
Christian Bolaños of Costa Rica who I hadn't seen before. The Algerian goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi had something special about him. And I really liked the lively, pacey and adventurous Ghanian winger Christian Atsu – not a world-class prospect, but a kind of player I always like to watch.

Aside from Brazil in the semi final, who were the worst team in your opinion?
Honduras was pretty poor and playing almost brutal football, so could't be adopted as an underdog. Cameroon were a major disappointment, but the team that looked least lively were Russia. Something must have gone completely wrong there.

As the free-kick spray has been popular, is there another idea you would like to see used for matches?
I thought the spray would solve a problem that isn't really there, but it worked surprisingly well. I also liked the goal-line-technology, which was new to us in Germany. I would like some use of video evidence.

Were you surprised by England's failure?
Not really. It will still take some time until more talented players come through the newly structured youth system in England. In Germany it also took some years.

What was your reaction to Brazil's thrashing by Germany?
I was sweating in embarrassment for the poor Brazilians who had far too much to take on their shoulders and an inept coach with a disastrous match plan. I was hoping for Germany not to score too many goals – and they didn't.

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