This World Cup has been an exciting show of intense competition. The group stages alone had 136 goals. We have seen stunning upsets, nerve-wracking battles on the pitch and heart wrenching defeats. The 2014 World Cup has definitely lived up to the hype of being “The Greatest Show On Earth”.
32 teams vied for the title but only one team won. This was the same team who made it to the finals in the previous world cup and suffered a tragic loss. The beginning of the tournament was filled with high hopes, eager players, new state of the art goal line technology (which still has yet to prove worth the hassle), and let’s not forget that cool magical foam spray used by the referees. It mostly looks like a can of shaving cream, but that’s none of our business.
The first match of the 2014 World Cup featured the host nation, Brazil – the team that was a big favourite, up against a seemingly less formidable Croatian team. Within minutes of the match starting, Croatia got a point as a result of an own goal scored by Marcelo. That may or may not have been an insight of events to come for Brazil, but we will get to that later. Brazil eventually beat Croatia 3-1, solidifying their claim as the best and reassuring their fans that they could go all the way.
On day two, Spain faced Netherlands. As the defending champions, Spain was poised to win this match easily. That was a thought that resonated in the minds of the Spanish fans. The reality however was outrageously contrary.
The Netherlands were awarded a penalty at the half-hour mark, and was then up by one. That was when the floodgates opened and a flood of goals ensued (literally). Spain lost 5 goals to 1. The match featured a very impressive header and goal from Robin van Persie. At that moment Netherlands were seen as the team to beat.
The group stage was an exciting show of skill and tenacity. Many teams who were expected to be sent home early, fought hard to stay in, and many who were expected to go through, went home.
Despite the lack of high expectations, some teams that impressed were: Algeria, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, United States of America, Greece, Nigeria, Switzerland and Belgium.
The popular teams that were expected to go all the way, or at least to round of 16, but didn’t were: Portugal, England, Spain and Italy. Their extremely early exists from the world cup were a major shock for most, however their departure in no way impacted the excitement of the tournament.
Argentina, Brazil, Netherlands, Germany, France, Colombia, Costa Rica and Belgium all made it to the quarter finals. At this point the phrase “the ball is round” was never any truer. Each team had an equally good chance of making it to the finals, and none would go down without a fight.
Germany beat France 1-0, Brazil also got the better of Colombia 2-1. That Brazilian victory would however prove bittersweet. Their poster boy and ‘saviour of the team’ who had been said to be ‘carrying the team on his back’ was severely injured and would miss their next match; so too, Thiago Silva, their captain. Neymar da Silva Santos Junior suffered a back injury after a very bad tackle from Juan Zuniga. Neymar was out of the world cup with a fractured vertebrae. He literally broke his back ‘carrying his team’.
Argentina got the better of Belgium 1-0 and, Netherlands and Costa Rica battled to a nil all draw at the end of regular time. The winner was eventually decided in penalty shootout which ended in victory for the Netherlands.
The first semi-final featured a match between a very strong and proven German team, and a highly famed and at the same time greatly criticized Brazilian team. It was to be an epic clash between two football giants, however the reality paled in comparison to our expectations as it was a brutal and embarrassing onslaught of goals, goals and more goals.
Brazil was thrashed!! Germany scored an amazing 7 goals to Brazil’s one, which was scored at the very last minute. This was the third time any team lost by that much in a World Cup semi-final. Spain fans could now hold their heads up a little higher. The team played horribly, left the defence wide open, they had no heart and according to many fans defeated themselves.
Argentina and Netherlands were next, this match was expected to be very exciting….it wasn’t. It was still a good tactical and strategic match. Both teams attacked and defended well but not many sparks flew. The great Lionel Messi or as he is known by many fans “The God” did not produce any goals, and the Netherlands defence did everything they could to suppress his efforts.
Arjen Robben who many were counting on to seal the deal and dismantle the Argentine defence was also neutralized. They played to a nil all draw in regular and extra time. Penalty shootout decided and sent Argentina to the finals.
Now that the final had been set, the battle for third place was imminent. Brazil and Netherlands were vying for that third place finish. With the memory of their embarrassing semi-final defeat to Germany, many thought Brazil would come out with all guns blazing to restore their dignity and their nation’s pride. While the Dutch were just going through the motion wanting to get another win under their belt.
The match began and within minutes Netherlands received a very questionable penalty as a result of a challenge on Arjen Robben from Thiago Silva. Brazil was then down by one, and in similar fashion to their match against Germany, the goals kept coming however there was a slightly more modest score line in this match. The Netherlands hammered the final nail in the Brazilian coffin beating them 3 nil, to take the third place spot.
Germany vs Argentina, two teams who have frequently faced each other in a World Cup final the last times being in 1986 and 1990. This was a clash of giants. Both teams had proven themselves to be a force to be reckoned with.
Unlike many of Argentina’s matches this one was filled with excitement, both teams attacking and aggressively pressing the other. Many players succumbed to injuries and harsh tackles.
Higuain had the best chance to score and give his team the win however his attempt was unable to reach the back of the net. That squandered opportunity would come back to haunt the Argentines. The brutal back and forth battle continued to a nil all draw at the end of regular time.
Extra time began and the battle continued with both teams having many opportunities to score. The Germans rattled the bar a few times. Both Romero and Neuer had to WORK!
Time continued to wind down and it was looking more and more like penalty shootout would decide the winner, until a spectacular goal in the 113th minute from Mario Gotze put Germany in the lead and strengthened their chances of winning the 2014 World Cup. At the end of extra time Argentina was unable to answer back with an equalizer.
Germany is now the 2014 World Cup Champions!!!
“The Greatest Show on Earth” is now at an end. While reminiscing on a good thing, how could we forget to mention the goal scored against Spain by Robin van Persie. That “flying header” showed great athleticism, instinct, reflexes and courage to pull off a goal like that. It seemed so surreal that his attempt would actually score.
Disclaimer: It’s Pixel Perfect in no way takes responsibility for the non-branded images used in this post. They were all sourced from fifa.com