This summer, football fans around the globe have been hooked on the action from the World Cup in Brazil. From Neymar to Messi and Robben, the world’s most talented stars have performed at their best in the spiritual home of football, helping make it a tournament to remember. However, the world’s most successful footballing nation is not only playing host to the World Cup; it is also the destination for this year’s FIFA Interactive World Cup.
Unlike the actual World Cup, you don’t have to wait four years for a FIFA Interactive World Cup to come around. This annual tournament brings together the world’s best FIFA players from all corners of the globe and this year, 20 qualifying players were flown out to Rio de Janeiro for a shot at the $20,000 prize, including Britain’s top talent Ty Walton, local champion Rafael Fortes, and Bruce Grannec, the reigning champion from France.
Given that two million people took part in the online and offline qualifiers, it really is some achievement to make it to the final.
20 competitors battled it out in groups of five in a bid to make the quarter-finals. England’s Dave Bytheway did what the English national team failed to achieve and made it out of the group stage along with other tournament first timers Steven van de Vorst of the Netherlands, plus Adrien Viaud and Farid Diffallah from France.
However, in the biggest surprise of the day, defending champion Bruce Grannec was eliminated at the group stage of the tournament.
Dave Bytheway’s fellow countryman, Ty Walton was also eliminated on penalties in his group’s tie-breaker but local lad Rafael Fortes turned in a sterling performance in his group and cruised through with a 100% win rate.
Rafael’s winning streak came to an end in the quarter-finals when Jorrick Boshove of the Netherlands beat the Brazilian 5-1 to advance to the semi-final. Dave Bytheway also reached the semi-finals, narrowly beating Adrian Viaud 1-0.
Another Dutchman, Steven van de Vorst, dashed any remaining hopes of a consecutive victory for France, beating debutant Farid Diffallah 2-1. Finally, Danish champion August Rosenmeier beat Alban Xhemajli 3-0 in the other quarter-final fixture.
Day two got underway with the semi-finals: Bytheway v Boshove and Rosenmeier v Van de Vorst. The draw meant that the two Dutchmen avoided each other, offering the opportunity for an all-Dutch Grand Final. The first semi-final saw the Danish champion Rosenmeier take on the 19 year-old Dutchman Van de Vorst. A tight match was sealed by a 71st minute goal by Hulk for Rosenmeier’s side.
The second semi-final served up an identical result. This time, Bytheway’s Brazil emerged triumphant over Boshove’s German team with a goal from Willian who nodded home Lucas’ cross in the 78th minute. Bytheway was into the Grand Final, leaving the two Dutchmen to battle it out for this year’s third place.
In the third-place play-off, Van de Vorst’s Portugal took on Boshove’s Germany. The two players couldn’t make a breakthrough in normal time or in the first half of extra time. Finally, after 111 minutes, Van de Vorst headed home to take the lead with only nine minutes to play. It looked like it was all over but it took only two more minutes for Klose to fire home an equaliser from the edge of the penalty area.
Incredibly, Van de Vorst pushed for a winner straight from the kick off and was quickly rewarded after some suspect goalkeeping saw Raúl Meireles score from an acute angle.
With only minutes on the clock, Boshove didn’t have enough in the tank to go again and suffered a defeat to his fellow countryman, Van de Vorst who took third place.
The Grand Final took place between Brazil and Germany on the pitch, even if the competitors - Dave Bytheway and August Rosenmeier - were from England and Denmark.
August Rosenmeier of Denmark has been a World Finalist before but Dave Bytheway was enjoying his first FIWC World Finals, looking to become the second English winner since Chris Bullard took the title back in 2005. The finalists were joined by a number of heroes from the world of football, and none were bigger than Brazilian legend, Ronaldo.
So the final got underway. Rosenmeier, playing as Brazil, had the lion’s share of early possession and it took a number of good saves by Neuer to keep Bytheway’s Germans on level terms. Yet, it was Bytheway who struck first. Looking to build from the back, he switched the ball out to the right wing before Rosenmeier gave away a sloppy free kick just inside his own half. Bytheway lumped the ball into the Brazilian box where Reus, unmarked, headed home to give the Englishman the lead in the Grand Final.
However, in the 39th minute, Rosenmeier forced a corner and punished Bytheway after he failed to clear following another save from the German goalkeeper. Alexandre Pato prodded home from six yards to equalise.
The second half was much of the same, with both players trying to force a break. As the game entered the final thirty minutes, Bytheway was beaten again as Barcelona’s Dani Alves whipped an inswinging cross into the box that was met by Luiz Gustavo to put the Dane 2-1 up.
With Bytheway chasing the game, he was once again caught out at the back as Neymar ran at his back four. A drop of the shoulder and an unfortunate player switch saw Bytheway’s German back four part, and Neymar exploited the space, firing into the bottom left-hand corner of Manuel Neuer’s net to go ahead 3-1 and inch Rosenmeier towards FIWC victory.
Bytheway pressed with time ticking away but he looked despondent and resigned to defeat as the game entered the final few minutes. Rosenmeier’s Brazilians remained disciplined and saw the game out.
Rosenmeier walked out as Champion, earning the Dane an invite to the Ballon D’Or award ceremony and, of course, $20,000 in cash. Finalist Bytheway can be proud of his achievements during the weekend but will ultimately rue a number of defensive errors that ultimately cost him in the Grand Final.
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