RIO DE JANEIRO: The judgments and credibility of the World Cup awards system was a subject for controversy in the aftermath of the dramatic conclusion to the finals with Germany’s extra-time victory over Argentina writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
No serious argument erupted the selection of Germany’s omnipotent Manuel Neuer as the best goalkeeper and thus winner of the golden glove award.
However the choice of Lionel Messi as best player and Colombia for the fair play trophy were not received as generously, particularly on social media.
While few would argue with Messi’s status as the most outstanding individual player to grace the closing stages of the tournament, he did not score a goal in the knockout stage and Argentina’s attack managed only eight goals in their seven games.
However the technical study group fronted by former France and Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier rated Messi’s overall contribution ahead of that of Germany’s Thomas Muller (silver ball) and Holland winger Arjen Robben (bronze).
Colombia were one of the most entertaining teams at the finals but their quarterfinal defeat by Brazil produced the most fouls of any match in the finals including the battering of Neymar by defender Camilo Zuniga. Neymar suffered a vertebra crack which will take between four and six weeks to heal.
However Colombia, largely thanks to the leniency of Spanish referee Carlos Velasco in that match, collected only five yellow cards in their five matches at the finals.
No such controversy for Colombia forward James Rodriguez. His six goals earned him the golden boot prize as leading marksman in the finals ahead of Thomas Muller (Germany, five goals) and Neymar (four goals plus one assist).
The young player award went to 21-year-old France midfielder Paul Pogba.
The TSG said: “As well as scoring a crucial headed goal against Nigeria in the Round of 16, the energetic Frenchman was an influential figure throughout Les Bleus’ Brazil 2014 venture. Alongside Yohann Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi, he consistently demonstrated his power and ball-winning skills, as well as his excellent technique, dribbling ability and great footballing brain.
“With an 80pc pass completion rate – including an assist against Switzerland – in 354 minutes of play, Pogba has continued where he left off at the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey, where his displays won him the Golden Ball award. The young midfield dynamo finishes ahead of Dutchman Memphis Depay and compatriot Raphael Varane (placed in alphabetical order).”
To be eligible, players had to be born on or after January 1, 1993.