So far the greatest sporting spectacle in the world hasn’t disappointed, and almost a fortnight into the competition there have been many talking points and dramatic moments. From the Arsenal squad there are 6 nations being represented and in total there are 10 first-team players (Joel Campbell included) out in Brazil.
The influence that these players have had on the tournament have varied massively, and surprisingly the player that has had the biggest impact on the world stage is Joel Campbell. Before the World Cup little was known of the Costa Rican forward, but lively performances against Italy and in particular Uruguay have risen his profile and given excitement and hope that there is more to come from the youngster. He has been on Arsenal’s books for three seasons now but work permit issues have meant that he has had loans away in France, Spain and most recently in Greece with Olympiacos. Last season he made 40 appearances for the Greek giants netting 10 times. Overall this was a decent return for Campbell as he was playing slightly out of position on the right side of a front three. In Brazil he has been given more freedom and is more of an out and out front man for his national side, a position he clearly seems to favour. Against Uruguay he was very impressive, scoring a powerful volley before threading through an eye of a needle pass to seal the win. He was voted man of the match for this performance and hopefully we will see more of the same at Arsenal.
‘An end of a era” was how Spain’s World Cup campaign was described as by many. An embarrassing 5-1 defeat to the Dutch and a 2-0 loss to Chile meant that La Roja’s tournament ended prematurely. It was sad to witness the demise of such a great side in this fashion, but it could ultimately prove to be very handy for the Gunners. Last season Santi Cazorla suffered as he didn’t have a full pre-season, returning late due to his participation in the Confederations Cup. This time round though the playmaker played a total of 90 minutes over two separate matches, and come the start of the season he should be fully fit and raring to go . Overall, he performed quite well during his two appearances , but really nothing could be done to have a significant impact on the outcome of Spain’s tournament.
Like Spain, England’s tournament was a rather underwhelming one. Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were the Arsenal representatives but it was only the former who played any minutes. Against Italy, Wilshere came off the bench for the last 10 minutes but struggled to have any major impact. Against Costa Rica he was given a proper chance and showed some nice link-up play in the final 3rd. Ultimately, Wilshere was probably hoping for more game time but his performances in the two games were admirable and there is definitely more to come from him in an England shirt.
France have been one of the most impressive sides at the World Cup so far, and in Les Blues 5-2 win over Switzerland Olivier Giroud was the star man. Playing understudy to Karim Benzema is always going to be a hard task but Giroud took his opportunity well and will have given Didier Deschamps something to think about. Laurent Koscielny hasn’t started for France yet, which comes as a bit of a surprise, but he made a late cameo appearance against the Swiss in the last game. Meanwhile, Belgium have progressed to the last 16 in an efficient manner, and are gradually growing into the tournament. Thomas Vermaelen missed the first game and unfortunately only lasted 30 minutes against Russia. The rest of his tournament participation is now in doubt.
Finally, all of Arsenal’s German players at the World Cup have featured in some capacity. Per Mertesacker has completed both matches, also gaining his 100th appearance in the process. Mesut Ozil’s link-up play and creative guile has been something to admire thus far and his good friend Lukas Podolski also managed to make a cameo appearance in the 4-0 drubbing of Portugal.