Heroes & Villains: From Captain Marvel to pitiful Portuguese
Far away in talent from legend, compatriot, former Bayern Munich forward and namesake Gerd, young pretender Thomas has stepped out of the shadows and certainly made a name for himself, despite his mortal abilities. On the world stage, his form cannot be argued with. Golden Boot winner at the last finals, his hat-trick in Germany’s opener to fell foes Portugal puts him in line to be the first person to achieve the accolade of being top scorer a second time (7/2).
Jurgen Klinsmann/Clint Dempsey
Pre-tournament, the USA were World Cup Group G outsiders at 16/5; now, they find themselves second-favourites to reach the knockout phase at evens, ahead of shell-shocked Portugal. In this true underdog story, the Stars and Stripes’ very own Superman, Klinsmann, was jubilant when his trusty sidekick and Captain Marvel Dempsey and co downed challengers Ghana at the death in an epic contest. Dempsey, who turned back the years to open the scoring within 30 seconds with great trickery and pace, suffered a broken nose later in the contest, but rose up from the battlefield ground to lead his side to glory.
Everyone’s favourite Real Madrid scapegoat Benzema, overshadowed by the likes of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Welsh wizard Gareth Bale, managed to emerge and lead the attack with aplomb. Scoring twice and an assist off the opposition goalkeeper, which resulted in being the first-ever awarded by goal-line technology, show that Benzema can light up the stage in Brazil.
Crash! Pow! Whack! Onomatopoeic terms usually found in comic books, but also words equally apt to describe bully boys Honduras in their match with France. La H certainly made their mark; Wilson Palacios literally, in the leg of Paul Pogba, but brute force was not enough to prevent a 3-0 defeat. “I didn’t think we crossed the line”, were the words from Honduras boss and ‘comedian’ Luis Suarez. Perhaps the goal-line technology blunder was still in his mind.
Nigeria 0-0 Iran
It never had much promise this fixture, but no one was quite prepared for such a dire performance from both sides. The defensive tactics of Iran, added to Nigeria’s blunt attack, spearfronted in the second half by the Emile Heskey-esque Shola Ameobi, plus a half-time summary from “boring” pundit Phil Neville, equals a terrible couple of hours for TV viewers.
The Portugal centre back certainly showed his animalistic attributes in his side’s drubbing to Germany. If whacking Muller wasn’t enough, he ensured a sending off by driving his head into his opponent when he was already down. A cowardly and pitiful act one might say, and a motion certainly worthy of a villainous tag.