The group phase is over, so it's time for an interim appraisal of this World Cup. To me there was one really huge surprise, one which in the end really wasn't so much so. Of course prior to the tournament I had not been expecting defending world champions Germany to crash out in the first round. But after their opening two matches it was no longer surprising, only sad. As deserved as the 2014 title was for Germany, so deserved is it that they have been eliminated.
Germany's team simply wasn't right in Russia
Löw is under pressure to rebuild; I'd understand if he walked away
Löw must now ask himself some tough questions as well as come up with a plan and above all the will to build up a new team all over again, especially due to the age issues of some of the players. He has done excellent work in the past, but now he is under real pressure again. I could well understand it if he said, I'll give someone else a chance.
Neymar is a wonderful player, but he needs to quit his antics
But having said this, I also believe that the longer the tournament lasts the better the major teams will prevail. I am still expecting some close results, but individual quality will tip the scales. In the groups, the teams that impressed me the most were England, Croatia and Belgium, and to a certain extent Brazil, who possess some very high individual quality. This especially applies to Neymar, and so he shouldn't find it necessary to provoke others, trying to gain penalties or rolling over five or six times on the ground after being fouled. He should stop such antics, which might start to harm him by getting the fans against him and make referees less inclined in the future to so quickly blow the whistle when he is fouled.
Maradona is one of the greats; it's sad to see him in his current state
A final word about one major ongoing issue during the group phase, Diego Maradona: He was a gifted player, the best midfielder in football up to the late 1980s. As a footballer he did a great deal of good for the game. But watching him in his current state up in the stands is, for me, one of two sad aspects of this World Cup. The other one? The weak showing and failure of the defending world champions Germany.