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Thursday, July 3, 2014, 12:02

The five biggest flops of the World Cup

By Agencies

It has been one of the best World Cups ever, packed with goals, drama and quality.

Yet for all the entertainment, not everyone can be a star.

Spain, England and Italy are among the big hitters dumped out of the tournament early, and naturally there has been finger pointing and recriminations.

Some players have returned from Brazil with lower reputations than when they arrived.

Steven Gerrard is the Liverpool and England captain, Diego Costa has just cost Chelsea 44 million euro and Iker Casillas has 156 caps to his name.

Yet they are among the leading stars who have failed to produce in the World Cup.

The five biggest flops of the World Cup

Chile's Gary Medel (bottom) is fouled by Spain's Diego Costa during their 2014 World Cup Group B soccer match at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, June 18, 2014. (Photo / Agencies)

Diego Costa dominated the build-up to Spain's World Cup defense, from the moment he chose to play for the Europeans rather than his native Brazil to his selection for the opening game against the Netherlands amid fitness concerns.

In fact, he probably shouldn't have gone to the World Cup because of the hamstring problem that affected him toward the end of his 36-goal season for Atletico Madrid. His introduction into the Spain squad coincided with the downfall of a team that won its previous three tournaments.

Costa never appeared to develop an understanding with his teammates and was virtually anonymous in a clumsy competitive debut as Spain was smashed 5-1 by the Netherlands. In La Roja's second group game, the new Chelsea man missed a golden opportunity early in the second half to get his side back in the game.

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