After the dour defensive performances of the last two World Cups, Brazil 2014 has been a breath of fresh air for attacking football.
While all fans of the beautiful game can appreciate the necessity and talent of a dominant defence, the fans want to see, fast paced attacks, exquisite passing, silky skills and a huge number of goals.
This World Cup has delivered them all, and in the process allowed the attacking talent of classic number 10s from a variety of nations to shine through.
Now that we know Holland, Brazil, Argentina and Germany will contest the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup, we can reflect on the Fantasista 10 star of the tournament so far, James Rodriguez. With 6 goals, 2 assists and at least 1 goal in every game he played in, James (pronounced ‘Hamez’) has taken the World Cup by storm and shown the world his ability on the grandest stage.
While there are still two huge rounds to go until the Champions are crowned, don’t be too surprised if the former Porto playmaker walks away from the tournament clutching the Golden Boot (Top Scorer), the Golden Ball (Player of the Tournament) and goal of the tournament – his stunning piledriver against Uruguay only has Tim Cahill’s sweet left-footed volley as competition for that particular accolade.
At present, the closest scorers who stand a chance of toppling him need two goals in the remaining two games. While not an insurmountable task, particularly when Lionel Messi still lurks – currently on 4 goals – the chances are slim against some of the best defences the tournament has seen.
As for the Golden Ball, no one else has shown the high level consistency in every game that the Colombian Number 10 has.
Strangely enough, one of the key aspects to Colombia’s success at utilising Rodriguez’s talents has been the absence of the other world class player that Colombia possess – Radamel Falcao. With James’ Monaco team-mate still recovering from a serious knee injury, Colombia were able to deploy a five-man midfield, with James being the man behind the lone striker.
This may not have been possible if Falcao had been fit, as the usual attacking fulcrum of the side. While his quality as a finisher is undisputed, his ability to bring the midfield into play near the opponent’s box is. With the former Atletico Madrid striker absent from the tournament, Rodriguez was freed from the shackles of defensive responsibility, placed in his favoured central position in midfield, and allowed to dictate the pattern of the game. The rest, as they say, is history.
What awaits James Rodriguez once the tournament has concluded is anyone’s guess. At 22 years of age, the gifted youngster has the world at his talented feet, and already rumours of Real Madrid making him their next Galactico are beginning to surface.
With pace, skill, vision and proven ability to score any type of goal imaginable, he has the qualities to succeed no matter where his playing career takes him. Let’s not forget, at such a young age he still has a potential three more World Cups to appear in.
Sneijder, Messi, Oscar and Gotze, the bar has been raised for this World Cup – what have you got?