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The Best and Worst of Brazil 2014.

Image Courtesy of WorldFootball TicketExchange, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of WorldFootball TicketExchange, flickr.com

The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is officially over following an exhilarating final between Germany and Argentina in Rio De Janeiro’s Maracana in which ‘Die Mannschaft’ were crowned World Champions for the fourth time thanks to a goal from Bayern Munich’s Mario Gotze with eight minutes remaining of extra time. Despite serious concerns regarding unfinished stadiums, the possibility of violent protests and poor playing conditions the tournament has proved a resounding success among fans and experts alike with BBC Sport’s chief football writer Phil McNulty stating that “for excitement produced and the attacking football witnessed, this Brazil World Cup just shades it as the best”.

The tournament may prove to be one that the hosts themselves would rather forget due to their calamitous performance on the pitch but they can be proud of the atmosphere and spectacle created throughout ‘the spiritual home of football’. Unfortunately, even the most successful tournaments cannot occur without incident and this World Cup has been no different. So, now that the final curtain has fallen and the fat lady has well and truly sung, what were some of the best (and worst) moments of Brazil 2014?

Goals

We have been spoilt rotten during this year’s competition with 171 goals across 64 matches (joining France 1998 as the record highest scoring tournament). Free flowing, attacking football and extremely poor defending in many matches during the group stages especially provided the stage for many truly world class goals. As a result, choosing one goal that stands out from the pack would provide an insurmountable task. Everyone has their favourites and if I had to pick a top three (greedy I know) they would include Robin Van Persie’s ‘Flying Dutchman’ header against Spain, James Rodriguez’s unbelievable volley against Uruguay and finally Lionel Messi’s last gasp winner against an extremely resilient Iran side.

Players

Brazil provided a stage for some of the world’s greatest players to emerge as leaders within their teams and on numerous occasions prove the difference in highly tactical matches. Many labelled this world cup as Lionel Messi’s opportunity to finally emerge from Diego Maradona’s shadow and declare himself the greatest player of all time. However, although the Barcelona star provided four goals in the three group stage fixtures, he did not manage a single shot on target in the all-important knockout rounds. Messi was crowned player of the tournament following last night’s final and this has proven an unpopular choice, especially following his disappointing performance in the greatest showpiece of them all.

James Rodriguez may have been a worthier winner of the award with 6 goals from 5 games whilst also being involved in all of Colombia’s goals. Rodriguez walked away with the golden ball but had Colombia progressed into the semi-finals it would have been hard not to give the young Monaco star the main prize. It is no surprise that most of Europe’s elite are now being linked with the 22 year old.

Arjen Robben who was absolutely electrifying during the group stages and crucial to The Netherlands success in the tournament, Manuel Neuer who is possibly one of the most impressive goalkeepers in recent years let alone this tournament, Thomas Muller who must now be considered as one of the most dangerous forwards in world football and Javier Mascherano who was the unsung hero of the Argentina team. An honourable mention goes to Miroslav Klose, who became the highest scoring forward in world cup history surpassing the great Ronaldo with 16 goals from four World Cups.

Controversies

It is a rare occasion in which a World Cup goes by and a contentious action or decision fails to paint certain matches or players in a negative fashion. Zidane’s head-butt, Maradona’s hand of god, Beckham’s red card, Ronaldo’s wink and Gullit’s spit will never be forgotten. This World Cup has been no different and once again one of the most memorable moments from the tournament involves Luiz Suarez biting a player for the third time in his career against Italy during the group stage

FIFA have handed the player a four month ban from all footballing activity, but Suarez has still earned a ‘dream’ move to Barcelona regardless of the ban. Numerous individuals have called for Suarez to be banned from all football indefinitely in a three strike system. However, I believe although utterly unacceptable behaviour this would be a crying shame for the game of football to lose such a talent who clearly has serious issues that must be resolved sooner rather than later.

Underdogs

Many teams were not given a chance at this World Cup. To that end, it was particularly refreshing to see teams such as Costa Rica progress to the quarter finals of the competition. Although it was at the expense of England, Costa Rica topping their group shows why football is such a fantastic sport because a shock defeat is always possible. Costa Rica were eventually beaten (just) on penalties by the eventual second runners up Holland and it will be exciting to see young Arsenal striker Joel Campbell’s progress in the Premier League next season. Many peoples favourite team to watch in this tournament quickly became Colombia.

James Rodriguez side played with pace and fervour which was reflected not only in their celebrations but in the belief of the fans. One look at the welcome home party staged following their defeat to Brazil will give an idea of the passion of their fantastic support both at home and in every stadium. There are many ifs and buts in the game of football, but just think that if one of the games great players of the moment Radamel Falcao had been fit for this tournament Colombia may have progressed past Brazil, into a world cup semi-final and even beyond.

Games

We have been blessed with countless unforgettable matches at this year’s world cup, most notably in my opinion the Netherlands 5-1 win over Spain and Brazil’s 1-7 loss to Germany for pure shock factor. The all-conquering Spain of the past six years had to falter eventually and it seems their bubble was finally burst with what many have proclaimed “the death of tikka-taka”. The Netherlands were given relatively little chance of defeating the legendary Spain team but Louis Van Gaal’s men provided a spectacle which set a benchmark for the rest of the tournament.

Much has been said about the Brazilian semi-final debacle against Germany but this much is clear; it will not be forgotten. Unfortunately, there were also a small number of games at this World Cup which made watching as much of the tournament as possible excruciating at times. Most notably the 0-0 draw between Nigeria and Ira which in no way reflected what was otherwise a relatively non-stop thrill ride where anything could (and often did) occur at any time.

What were yours?

Let us know your best and worst bits of the Brazil World Cup by commenting below or contacting us via the PHA Media website

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