Hopes dashed, dreams broken....

The party never started for them. Here’s a look then, at those who went home disappointed:

n Iker Casillas (Spain)

The hand that clasped the World Cup four years ago hardly served as cover this time as Casillas tried to hide his disappointment. Sense of positioning and sharpness had deserted the goalkeeper and he resembled a warrior without a weapon. In a tournament marked by great goalkeeping, the Spanish captain was a pale shadow of his alert past as balls whizzed past his flailing hands. Spain’s first round exit was a natural consequence.
n Wayne Rooney (England)

Drop Rooney was the call of the critics before the World Cup. In Brazil, the English striker hardly did anything to repel the missiles from home. He scored his first World Cup goal in three attempts and that was just about it as the Lions made their way back home, with their tails firmly tucked behind their legs. Subsequent apologies didn’t cut any ice. Cup remains a pipedream for the 1966 champions as they struggle to prove their worth at the highest level.

n Mario Balotelli (Italy)

Gold medal for cockiness and loose talk will stay firmly around this Italian’s neck after his country’s early exit from the tournament. “I want a kiss on the cheek from the Queen,” were his words before Italy’s game against Costa Rica. The queen would have happily delivered a kick up his backside after Italy’s defeat confirmed England’s exit. The Panini sticker man stayed in the album as his team struggled to find goals.

n Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

The museum back home at Funchal will have to wait for its crown jewel. To be fair to the Real Madrid superstar, he arrived in Brazil carrying a knee injury and all through, talk about his fitness dominated the headlines. The ace striker was kept in tight check by the Germans in a 4-0 drubbing and a lacklustre Portugal never really recovered from that blow. With no real support from his mates, the strut in his strides disappeared quickly as he failed to carry the team on his shoulders. One goal from three games was a poor return for the reigning FIFA World Player of the Year.
n Eden Hazard (Belgium)

Beyond giving an opportunity for headline writers to unleash their creativity, the Belgian hardly did anything to enhance his reputation. Belgium fought hard to progress through the group stage and the second round before getting eliminated by Argentina but barring a pass that set up Dries Mertens  against Algeria, Hazard’s contribution was minimal in his team’s success, with the Chelsea hardly visible on the field. 

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