In recurring posts for the entirety of the 2014 World Cup, I’ll be looking at the performances of players coming off the bench throughout the tournament. These posts will are more of a sporadic view, but you can view all of the in depth pieces on specific super subs. With that in the bag, let’s get underway.
A day filled with games that refused to end in regulation, but wouldn’t go the way of the penalty shot. Both games finished in open play and required 120+ minutes to do so. Did the subs make the difference they needed to? They were certainly given plenty of opportunities to.
- While Switzerland is a quality side in great form after their opening drubbing at the hands of France, it was a mild surprise that they stood up to Lionel Messi and Argentina. Messi and Angel Di Maria finished the game in the 118th minute for Argentina, but Rodrigo Palacio had an opportunity in the 75th minute that could have secured Argentina’s spot much earlier. It was a difficult chance as the ball was placed behind him, but he did well to put it close to net.
- If you’re a Swiss fan, this was the chance of the tournament and a blunder by Blerim Dzemaili to not put it in the back of the net and send this game to penalty shots. Now all we have is this beautiful GIF of agony for one nation and terror from another. After the ball was delivered into the box, Dzemaili did a great job to put the ball low, unfortunately for him, he hit the far post. It bounced back only to be mishandled by the aforementioned Dzemaili again. The result was a goal kick and a gut punch for the Swiss.
- After losing his starting spot to Divock Origi earlier in the World Cup, Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku came on against the United States in the 91st minute. It took mere moments for Lukaku to use his most valuable attribute, his strength, to break down the American defense. The first play below is immediately preceded by Matt Besler getting tripped up next to Lukaku and losing his man, giving free range for what comes next. Finally, in the 105th, the 21 year old netted a goal of his own for the eventual game-winner. Lukaku has been connected with several Premier League clubs in the transfer window, with none being successful in negotiations with Chelsea as of yet.
- Don’t look away or you’ll miss it. Julian Green made his first appearance of the World Cup in the 105th minute and did his best to bring his team back into the game by netting a goal just two minutes later. With a well-timed run and a perfectly weighted pass by Michael Bradley, Green pocketed the ball into the back of the net on a great volley. The 19 year old has been linked with a transfer from Bayern Munich to Tottenham Hotspur.
- DeAndre Yedlin is one extremely pacey right back for the U.S. and showed it immediately after replacing Fabian Johnson after his injury. The build up was nice, but the cross was nearly perfect. The curve and pace on the pass was almost enough to direct itself right to the head of Graham Zusi for a goal. In the end, Zusi couldn’t put head to ball and the score remained 0-0.
- Just as Swiss fans feel, so do United States fans. Chris Wondolowski had the opportunity of the World Cup according to fans of the stars and stripes when he failed to net a goal off of Jermaine Jones’s headed pass in the second minute of stoppage time. The U.S. went on to be eliminated 2-1 by Belgium and this opportunity will not soon be forgotten.