Heroes And Villains Of The World Cup: Matchday 14

Who’s excited for Mexico and Brazil in the Round of 16? No one on Mexico’s right-hand side, that’s for sure.

We will have no back-to-back champions. We will have no Germany 7 — Brazil 1. We will have no Thomas Muller doing silly things at the Munich Hofbräuhaus. Everything is different now. 

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Heroes and Villains of the World Cup: Matchday 14

Hero: Andreas Granqvist (Sweden)

This guy is the Babadook. Francesco Totti calls him “Il Capitano.” Mario Balotelli calls him “PENqvist.” Zlatan Ibrahimovic calls him “Papa Lion.” 

Andreas Granqvist

Barcelona's watching the wrong guy. Photo: Getty Images

He was a monster in defense, he lumbered into Mexico’s box and won everything (just knocking shit down and flicking shit on left and right), he converted his penalty with ease and he completed one of the illest dribbles of the tournament when Mexico dared to press him in possession. He's my Golden Ball favorite at the moment.

Honorable mention: Bryan Ruiz (Costa Rica)

The dubious goals panel says this is an own goal by Yann Sommer, but that’s because the dubious goals panel is a bunch of European hotshots that don’t understand the subtle genius of CONCACAF's Bryan Ruiz. 

Crossbar. BANG. Head. BANG. Side-netting. Pick that one out. 

Villain: Juan Carlos Osorio (Mexico)

Embed from Getty Images

For 50 straight games Osorio refused to use the same starting lineup in back-to-back matches. Then, on his 51st game in charge of El Tri, the Colombian did the unthinkable: He named to same starting XI against Sweden that had taken apart South Korea. Here’s what he had to say directly after the loss:

“For the first time in many, many games when we play against a team that play that idea of football, of direct football, we usually play with three at the back and an anchor man who is very good in the air. Basically we defend with four. Today for the first time we decided to play with (a back line of) four and not that structure. And at the end, we didn’t succeed in our penetration in the final third.”

So if you knew how to combat Sweden's style, why didn't you do it??? You almost blew it. 

Sweden won basically every aerial duel and every ball inside Mexico’s box — at halftime, you knew the door was coming down. That sucker flew off the hinges between minutes 50 and 74 when Mexico went on tilt. 

Honorable mention: Neymar (Brazil)

This guy. I’ve always maintained that Neymar will one day seriously injure himself with the severity of his dives, and I still maintain that. This, however, was not one of his masochistic flops. It was just hilarious.

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