Synopsis of the 2014 FIFA World Cup

By Marcus Louison

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There is nothing quite like a FIFA World Cup. The level of global illumination and captivation is understandably unrivaled by any event, sporting or other, due to its sheer enormity. The 2014 edition, held in Brazil for only the second time, bewitched onlookers the world over for the full duration of the competition, with enthrallment levels heightening by the day. The love affair began with Brazil’s boisterous rendition of the national anthem on the opening day, and didn’t end until a joyous Phillip Lahm held the treasured cup aloft at the Maracana on July 13th. The end of the tournament, predictably, has been met with disillusion in some quarters, and sorrowful withdrawal in others. The countdown to 2018 in Russia begins in earnest, but first, let’s take a look back at what was a deeply engrossing, at times pulse-pounding FIFA World Cup.. 

Group A

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Brazil, riding the crest of a wave following their supremely impressive showing at last year’s Confederations Cup, began Group A as hot favorites to top the group, expecting to be accompanied by any one of three for the knockout rd. Croatia, at the Finals via a playoff win in European qualifying, thoroughly expected a stiff challenge on the pitch in addition to a raucous “welcome” by the home fans, but they were far from overawed, as they began confidently and upset the apple-cart by taking an early lead via a Marcelo own goal. The Balkan side continued to impress as the hosts struggled to find their rhythm, and as the minutes ticked away, a real upset seemed to be on the cards. But, in stepped referee Yuichi Nishimura to award what was an extremely soft PK for Dejan Lovren’s slight contact with Fred’s shoulder. A Selecao goldenboy, Neymar, stepped up to make it 1-1, and Croatia was furious (see image above). Brazil grew in confidence, as the Croatians capitulated, and the South Americans ran out 3-1 winners.

Mexico, perennial World Cup qualifiers, began this tournament with their lowest expectations in recent memory due to a tumultuous qualifying campaign that saw them sneak in via the playoffs. Massive amounts of credit must be bestowed upon new head coach Miguel Herrera, as his extremely well-organized unit, dominated Cameroon from start to finish. Mexico, employing a 5-3-2 formation, showed efficiency in every area of the pitch, and still ran out winners despite having two Gio Dos Santos goals incorrectly ruled out for offside.

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Mexican goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa, turned in a performance for the ages vs Brazil in Fortaleza, as he thwarted one Brazilian attack after the other with a string of breathtaking saves (see above image). Brazil, performing with slightly more fluency and purpose than they did in their first match, were still short of expectations. The match ended 0-0, with both teams on four points from two matches.

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The stage was now set for Mexico to continue their renaissance in a do or die clash vs a Croatia side that dismantled a hapless Cameroonian outfit. The Concacaf standard bearers, astutely led by skipper Rafael Marquez, set about their business with poise and determination. An extremely well marshaled defense provided the foundation for a midfield that was energetic, industrious and enterprising. Giovani Dos Santos was perpetual motion personified, as he pulled the strings behind Oribe Peralta. A fantastic team performance was duly rewarded with a convincing win and 2nd rd qualification.

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The moans could be heard all across the nation, as the hosts underwhelmed in their opening two matches, but Brazil didn’t waste their chance to hammer the group’s whipping boys, Cameroon. Neymar took his tally to 4, as A Selecao  played with far more joy and freedom, but they knew a much stiffer test lay waiting in rd 2.

Group A standout performers – Guillermo Ochoa, Rafael Marquez, Andres Guardado, Giovani Dos Santos (Mexico), Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic (Croatia), David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Neymar (Brazil)

Group B

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We didn’t have to wait long for the group stage’s most sensational result, as a rampant Netherlands side reverberated the entire planet with a 5-1 spanking of World and European champions Spain in Salvador. La Furja Roja, one of the pre-tournament favorites, made a bright start, and took the lead through a hotly-contested Xabi Alonso PK. David Silva had a glorious opportunity to double the lead, but chipped weakly into the hands of Jasper Cillissen. This set the stage for Robin Van Persie to score one of the goals of the tournament. Daley Blind, playing at left wing-back, spotted RVP in space between Pique and Ramos, and measured a 40 yard pass to perfection onto the head of the Dutch number 9. Van Persie, spotting Casillas off his line, dove and directed a pin-point looping header into the corner of the net. The jet-heeled Arjen Robben came to the party at the beginning of the second half, and also benefited from an inch-perfect Daley Blind pass, as he fired past Casillas to make it 2-1. Further goals from De Vrij, and RVP and Robben again, completed the rout, and left Vicente Del Bosque with much to ponder going into his next match with Chile.

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Chile v Australia: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

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Chile, just off of a 2-1 win over Australia, came into the match vs Spain with genuine belief and confidence of putting one over their more illustrious opponents. The South American side got into their stride quickly, and a slick passing move down the right, with Alexis Sanchez prominent, led to an opener for Eduardo Vargas. Iker Casillas, looking shaky for the second game running, spilled a routine free-kick, and Charles Aranguiz was Johnny on the spot, as he dispatched the rebound to make it 2-0. Spain huffed and puffed to no avail in the second half, as Chile eased their way to a comfortable win. The champs ousted after only two matches, and the Spanish inquisition was well and truly on.

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Holland defeated Australia 3-2 in a thoroughly entertaining match in Porto Alegre. Both teams committed to attack in a match that ebbed and flowed from beginning to end, and Tim Cahill treated us to one of the championship’s great goals with a sumptuous left-footed volley. Australia failed to capitalize on some sloppy Dutch defending, and would have felt aggrieved to come away with 0 points after an extremely positive performance.

The results after two matches rendered the final set of games academic, as Holland and Chile advanced to the next rd.

Group B standouts performers – Daley Blind, Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben (Netherlands), Gary Medel, Charles Aranguiz, Alexis Sanchez (Chile), Tim Cahill (Australia).

Group C

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Colombia, 4th in FIFA rankings, began as favorites to top group C after a magnificent qualifying campaign. Much was made of the absence of their talismanic striker Radamel Falcao, but AS Monaco’s James Rodriguez assumed the mantle as the team’s leading light as soon as a ball was kicked in Belo Horizonte vs Greece. Rodriguez, only 22, played with maturity far beyond his years, and linked intelligently with Juan Cuadrado and Teofilo Gutierrez throughout. The young Ligue 1 star also added a well-deserved late goal, as Los Cafeteros routed the Greeks 3-0.

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The Ivory Coast, boasting one of the tournament’s most gifted squads, thoroughly expected to advance to the knockout stages for the first time in their history. Les Elephants, however, toiled mightily vs Japan, and relied on the crosses from the excellent Serge Aurier, and inspiration from the aging Didier Drogba, to get them over the line. The FIF’s decision to appoint rookie coach, Sabri Lamouchi, was derided by the country’s journalists, and it did appear that the Frenchman bit off more than he could chew, as his side lacked cohesion in every area of the pitch.

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Colombia continued their impressive form vs the Ivory Coast and Japan, as they ended the group stage with 9 points. James Rodriguez entered the knockout rd with 4 goals, including a virtuoso super-sub effort vs the Japanese.

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Greece joined Colombia in the round of 16, thanks to an extremely debatable last-minute PK decision in their do-or-die match vs the Ivory Coast. Goalkeeper Boubacar Barry did his best to psyche out Giorgios Samaras, but the Celtic man was coolness personified, as he calmly slotted home to send the streets of Athens into raptures..

Group C standout performers- Carlos Sanchez, James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado (Colombia), Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast).

Group D

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Costa Rica made quick work of mocking the bookmakers prediction  for them to finish bottom group D, as they ran riot vs Uruguay in Fortaleza. Jose Manuel Pinto’s team set about their task with fastidious precision, and striker Joel Campbell earned rave reviews for a thoroughly brilliant performance. The Arsenal man led the line superbly, as he combined pace, power, technique and bravery in a display that led to many to say ” Who’s this Campbell guy?”. The Concacaf team convincingly won 3-1, and left Oscar Tabarez’s team wondering what hit them.

England, entering the tournament quietly confident, began brightly vs Italy amidst scorching temperatures in Manaus. Their approach play was far better than in previous competitions, but they were found wanting in the final third, as passes went astray, and chances were squandered. Daniel Sturridge cancelled out a Claudio Marchisio daisy-cutter, but The Three Lions were eventually undone by some slick wing-play from Antonio Candreva, and a precise far-post header from Mario Balotelli.

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Luis Suarez, playing his first match of the tournament after missing the Costa Rica clash due to injury, showed England what world-class striking is all about, as he ruthlessly gunned them down in Sao Paulo. The Uruguayan sharp-shooter took both of his chances with aplomb, as England were left to wonder what might have been.

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Italy, defeated by tournament cinderellas, Costa Rica, faced Uruguay in a winner take all clash in Natal. A tight affair was settled by a Diego Godin header, but all of the headlines centered around Luis Suarez’s disgraceful bite on Giorgio Chiellini. Suarez, as troubled as he is gifted, inexplicably sunk his teeth into the Italian’s shoulder, and was later heavily sanctioned by FIFA. Uruguay moved on without him, and Italy, for the second World Cup running, exited in the first round.

Group D standout performers- Oscar Duarte, Bryan Ruiz, Keylor Navas, Joel Campbell (Costa Rica).

Group E

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France wasted no time flexing their muscle in one of the World Cup’s groups of “life”. A spanking of Honduras was duly followed by a hammering of the group’s seeded team, Switzerland. Les Bleus, shorn of the infighting and upheaval that plagued the team under Raymond Domenech, played with freedom and joy, prompted by the emerging talents of Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi in midfield. Karim Benzema was in fine form upfront, as he ended the group stage among the highest scorers.

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The prodigiously gifted Xherdan Shaqiri led a merry dance vs Honduras, as he scored a marvelous hat trick to send Switzerland into the round of 16.

Group E standout performers- Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi, Karim Benzema (France), Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland), Enner Valencia (Ecuador).

Group F

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Lionel Andres Messi, desperate to escape the clutches of Maradona’s shadow, began Argentina’s opener vs Bosnia in Rio under immense national pressure and worldwide scrutiny. Alejandro Sabella decided, strangely, to tinker with the Albiceleste personnel and tactics for their opening match, opting for an unfamiliar 5-3-2 system, and Argentina predictably struggled against a Balkan side that was more than up for the challenge. Sabella smartly reverted to the regular 4-3-3 in the second half, and Argentina duly improved, albeit slightly. Messi, though not at his unplayable best, still had the wherewithal to produce a majestic winner; a sign of things to come in following matches.

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Safet Susic knew his Bosnia side needed points vs Nigeria, and all seemed to be going to plan as the World Cup upstarts began positively in Cuiaba. The European side showed why they gained so many admirers during qualifying, as they moved the ball quickly and cleverly, prompting for openings against a plucky Nigerian team. A textbook through ball to star striker Edin Dzeko split the The Super Eagles defense, and the Manchester City man finished expertly to give his team the lead, or so he thought. The referee’s assistant incorrectly adjudged Dzeko offside( see above image), and much to Susic and Bosnia’s chagrin, the match remained 0-0. Nigeria, looking to capitalize on their good fortune, did just that, as a muscular run from the barrel-chested Emmanuel Emenike, ended with a tidy finish by the recently restored Peter Odemwingie. Bosnia continued to probe for openings, mostly led by the highly-skilled Miralem Pjanic, but the equalizer just wouldn’t come. The late introduction of the prolific Vedad Ibisevic also failed to bare fruit, and the Europeans exited their first World Cup after just two matches.

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The mercurial Lionel Messi, still failing to dominate games as we all know he can, was certainly up to the task as a goalscorer, as he put Iran, and then Nigeria to the sword with a few sensational strikes. Argentina, still failing to produce their best football, were proving difficult to beat, and they moved on as group winners.

Group F standout performers- Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria, Marcos Rojo (Argentina), Emmanuel Emenike, Ahmed Musa, Peter Odemwingie (Nigeria). Miralem Pjanic ( Bosnia&Herzegovina)

Group G

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Group G was dubbed the Group of death, and points were expected to be at a premium. Portugal, hoping to come away from their match with Germany with at least a point, made a shocking start, as slack defending led to the concession of two early goals. A typically idiotic “decision” from  Pepe, a perennial loose-cannon, put paid to any thoughts of a comeback, as his headbutt on Muller resulted in an early bath, and Portugal were forced to play the rest of the match with ten men. Germany added two more to the tally, and left the Portuguese with a mountain to climb with regards to qualification.

Ghana have become many people’s favorite African team, after playing some wonderfully cohesive football in 2006, and going all the way to the brink of the semifinals in 2010. The Black Stars, attacking with verve and pace vs the US, would have felt hard done by after coming up on the wrong side of a 2-1 scoreline, but they paid the ultimate price for poor play in the final third and inept defending.

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Kwesi Appiah’s side came close to making amends vs the Germans in their second match, but were again undone by poor decision making in attacking areas. A 2-2 result against a much vaunted German side was a credible result, but their defeat in the opening match left their hopes dangling by a thread.

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Thomas Muller makes World Cup goalscoring look routine, and he was at it again vs the Americans, as a surgical far-post finish was enough to see them off in a tight contest.

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Portugal, needing a huge win to progress, squandered many chances vs Ghana, with Cristiano Ronaldo the chief culprit. The Real Madrid man, struggling with tendonitis, looked to the heavens as chance after chance went begging. He eventually took one late on, but the narrow win was not enough to prevent their early exit, as Germany and the USA marched on.

Group G top performers- Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos (Germany), Andre Ayew (Ghana), Jermaine Jones (USA)

Group H

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A scrappy match between Russia and South Korea ended in fitting fashion, as Igor Akinfeev inexplicably spilled a powder-puff shot into his own net. Russia, expecting to qualify along with Belgium, were left to rue a 1-1 result against an Asian team that was totally out of sorts.

Belgium, boasting a host of talented premier league professionals, began slowly vs Algeria, and found themselves down a goal early on. The Africans then proceeded to “park the bus”, and breaking through was increasingly difficult for the Red Devils. A last throw of the dice by coach Marc Wilmots was just what the Dr ordered, as substitutes Marouane Fellaini and Dries Mertens, found the net in the quick succession, and consequently wrestled points away from the dogged Algerians.

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Fabio Capello’s Russia side continued to disappoint as the group stage continued, and could only manage a 1-1 draw with Algeria in their final group game. This, allied with three points for Algeria in that dominant display vs South Korea in their second match, confirmed their progress to the second round, and sparked will celebrations in their native land.

Group G standout performers- Dries Mertens, Vincent Kompany (Belgium), Islam Slimane, Rafik Halliche (Algeria).

SECOND ROUND

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“South American Saturday” began the knockout stages, and first up was Brazil vs Chile. Jorge Sampaoli’s Chile team were bursting with confidence going into their second round match with Brazil. Chile, employing a fast and aggressive pressing game without the ball, while being inventive and skillful without it, liked their chances against a Brazilian outfit that was struggling to hit full stride. David Luiz silenced many critics with some stellar first round performances, and continued his solid World Cup here, as he got the home team off to a flying start, scrambling the ball in from a corner. Chile responded positively, and were back on level terms after some clever build-up play on the right. Alexis Sanchez, La Roja’s main man, was on hand to apply a deft far-post finish. Substitute Mauricio Pinilla came within a whisker of winning it in extra-time, but his drive from just outside the box, cannoned off the cross-bar. Onto the dreaded penalty kicks, and the nerves were apparent for both teams. Pinilla, again in the spotlight, had to score to keep Chile alive after nine kicks, but he couldn’t apply the finish. Brazil survived to fight another day..

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James Rodriguez was fast approaching rock-star status at these Finals, and he did much to enhance his reputation as Colombia played Uruguay in Rio De Janeiro. James lit up a tepid affair with a couple majestic pieces of skill. Receiving the ball 25 yards from goal, the young Colombian had the wherewithal to spot the keeper off his line, control the ball instantly, and spank a dead-eye accurate volley past Muslera’s desperate lunge. Brilliant. Rodriguez scored a second after fantastic awareness from the lively Cuadrado, and Colombia moved on comfortably to a dream match up with Brazil.

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A brutally hot day in Fortaleza, confirmed by the first water break in World Cup history, paved the way for a drab affair from the Netherlands and Mexico. Chances were hard to come by, so when Giovani Dos Santos’ excellent cross-shot found the corner of Jasper Cillessen’s net, El Tri sensed victory was theirs. Louis Van Gaal, never one to sit on impact substitutes, withdrew his skipper, RVP, for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The Schalke man, desperate to show his quality after being overlooked in favor of Jermain Lens vs Chile, made an immediate impact by setting up the equalizer for Wesley Sneijder. Extra time seemed inevitable, but Arjen Robben wriggled his way free on the touchline, tempted Rafael Marquez into an ill-timed lunge, and went down over the lightest of touches. The ref pointed to the spot, and Huntelaar completed his stunning contribution off the bench. Holland 2 Mexico 1. Such drama.

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Costa Rica and Greece lulled World Cup viewers to sleep in an utterly dreary game of football with very few noteworthy incidents. Penalties seemed inevitable from the start, and Costa Rica, perfect from the spot, amazingly continued their World Cup fairytale..

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Didier Deschamps’ decision to start Olivier Giroud at center forward, with Karim  Benzema out wide, failed miserably in the first half vs Nigeria, as France struggled mightily for fluency and invention. Giroud, static and unwilling to run the channels to create space, was replaced by the fleet-footed Antoine Griezmann after the break, and Les Bleus clicked into gear almost immediately. Paul Pogba, showing power, skill and fantastic balance, dominated midfield, and provided the springboard for many French attacks. Benzema, Griezmann, and the diminuitive Valbuena all had chances repelled by the excellent Vincent Enyeama in the Nigerian goal. Enyeama though, turned from hero on villain in an instant, as he mishandled a cross, and was instantly punished by Pogba. Victor Yobo added insult to injury in added time, as France advanced to the quarterfinals.

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Tight, tense affairs became the norm in the World Cup second round, and this match was no different, as Argentina and Switzerland committed few numbers in attacking areas. Lionel Messi, expected to be inspired by his goalscoring heroics in the first round, appeared leggy and disinterested, as the game petered into extra-time.

La Albiceleste were let off the hook with a piece of wasteful finishing by Swiss striker, Josip Drmic. Put through on goal with the goal gaping, Drmic inexplicably shanked the shot horribly wide.

Messi, seemingly not excited by the prospect of penalty kicks, provided a moment of match wining inspiration. After swiftly skipping past two half-hearted challenges in the middle of the park, he had the presence of mind to compose himself before laying it on a plate for the onrushing Di Maria. The Real Madrid man, a key player in the group stages, made no mistake with the finish, tucking it past the despairing dive of Diego Benaglio. A late Swiss flurry couldn’t yield a goal, and Argentina, just like in 2010, moved on to the quarterfinals.

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Algeria, clearly not satisfied with making it to the second round for the first time in their history, came out all guns blazing in Porto Alegre. Coach Vahid Halilodzic prepared his troops to perfection, as they seeked to exploit the pockets of space just behind the full-backs of Germany.

Islam Slimane, a tall, robust and buccaneering center forward, led the line expertly, as he constantly gave fits to the entire German back line. Running the channels, providing an outlet, deft layoffs to runners – Slimane did it all. He was epitome of perpetual motion in a performance that was lone-striking perfection, or near perfection. Perfection would yield the goals necessary to win the match, and in Manuel Neuer, Germany had a goalkeeper that was at the very top of his game. Sniffing out the danger created by the high defensive line, Germany’s number one was the perfect embodiment of a “sweeper-keeper” as he bailed his team out on numerous occasions.

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Algeria, showing signs of fatigue as the match progressed, conceded space and opportunities in the second half. Germany came close on numerous occasions, but Rais M’Bholi, Algeria’s custodian, was also in fine fettle, and did his part to keep the score at 0-0 and force extra time.

Algeria continued to show good midfield skill and invention, but Germany were the team in the ascendancy as time wore on. Super-sub Andre Schurrle provided the moment that broke The Fennecses hearts, as he ghosted in at the near post to finish past Rais. Mesut Ozil provided another goal in extra time to settle German nerves. Abdel Djabou got a goal back for the never-say-die Algerians, but it proved nothing more than a consolation..

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Belgium came into their match with the USMNT hoping to continue the momentum they built coming out of the group stage. The Americans battled admirably to escape the Group of death, so they also came into the match with a fair deal of confidence. The match began slowly, but the pattern became evident, as Belgium poured forward, as the US soaked up the pressure. The Red Devils broke through on several occasions, but Tim Howard was in unbelievable form between the sticks. In fact, Everton’s GK was in such top form that he recorded a World Cup record 16 saves on the day. Unfortunately for him and his team, their backs to the wall approach is a risky one indeed, and Kevin De Bruyne eventually broke their stubborn resistance. Substitute Romelu Lukaku added another for good measure, and despite Tim Howard’s heroics, it was a victory that was very well deserved for the Belgians.

QUARTER FINALS

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Germany began shakily against France in Rio, but Griezmann, Benzema and Valbuena didn’t make the use of the efficient midfield approach play, as chances went begging in the final third. Germany eventually found their feet, and Mats Hummels, always a threat at set pieces, rose impressively to head a free kick past Hugo Lloris. France struggled to find their rhythm, but were still able to conjure up a chance for Benzema at the death. The French #9 struck an  impressive left-footed drive, but Neuer thrust up a bionic looking arm to preserve the narrow German lead, and take them into the semifinals for the fourth consecutive time.

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Brazil were first out the gate vs Colombia, and assumed total control of the match via their center backs. First, Thiago Silva bundled in at the near post, then David Luiz bamboozled Ospina with a free-kick that had devilish whip, pace and curl.

Los Cafeteros, inspired by the prompting of James Rodriguez, battled valiantly in the second half, and probed constantly for a goal that would hand them a lifeline. Rodriguez was particularly impressive, as he displayed all of the attributes of a leader and world-class superstar in the making. Pace, trickery, enterprise, passing and dogged determination were all on display in a performance that I thought was his most impressive of the tournament. He finally got the goal that his industry deserved from the penalty spot, and the grand-stand finish was well and truly on.

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Brazil stood firm as the onslaught ensued, and as the minutes ticked on, Colombia’s frustration seemed to get the better of them. Juan Zuniga’s high knee crashed into the back of Neymar, and as the Brazilian #10 lay in agony, it was all too apparent that his World Cup was over. That reality, allied with the absence of their skipper,Thiago Silva, due to suspension left Germany licking their chops for their semifinal meeting.

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The Netherlands and Costa Rica played out their version of a bedtime story, as they endeavored to lull us all to sleep.

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Penalties were always on the cards in what was a remarkably insipid match, and Louis Van Gaal, as contemplative as ever, pulled a rabbit out of the hat by replacing the Dutch #1 GK Jasper Cillikssen with #2 Tim Krul.

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Van Gaal gambled on Krul’s longer wingspan, cat-like reflexes and steely temperament. The move proved a masterstroke, as Krul “guessed” correctly on all five penalties, saving two, and Holland won 4-3 on PK’s. Brilliant.

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A majestic 8th minute Gonzalo Higuain strike was enough for Argentina against a Belgium side completely bereft of any sort of attacking energy or ideas. Eden Hazard and co failed to produce anything of note as their World Cup challenge ended in the heat of Brasilia.

SEMI FINALS

A lot of uncertainty surrounded Brazil in the wake of the absence of their two stars, Neymar Jr and Thiago Silva, but nothing, and I mean NOTHING could prepare viewers for what they were about to witness in Belo Horizonte.

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Dante, a more than capable central defender, came in for Thiago Silva, and Bernard had the enviable task of deputizing for Neymar.

Schoolboy defending from an early German free-kick led to a simple tap in for goal-machine Thomas Muller. Germany, sensing genuine Brazilian vulnerability due to what seemed like zero organization, targeted their central midfield/back area, and that tactic bore the juiciest fruit imaginable. Miroslav Klose pounced on a rebound to break Ronaldo’s all-time World Cup goalscoring record, as Brazilian hands went on heads.

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Klose’s goal began the shell shock that led to a period that left onlookers incredulous. Brazil, playing with all of the solidity and nous of a sunday morning pub team, conceded goal after goal after goal in a period where Die Mannschaft were at their most ruthless and incisive best. Further Goals for Kroos(2) and Khedira sent the hosts in 5-0 at the break.

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Two second half goals from the impressive Andre Schurrle drove the final nails into the coffin, to leave the hosts totally humiliated, and the entire world utterly gobsmacked.

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Argentina, hoping to get to the Final for the first time since 1990, started slightly more positively than Holland in Sao Paulo. The Dutch grew into the game in the second half, but chances were hard to come by in another World Cup knockout game that had extra time and penalties written all over it.

The standout moment of the match saw the tenacious Javier Mascherano make a last-ditch, likely game-saving tackle on Robben. Tackle of the tournament.

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Louis Van Gaal, having already used his last sub on the gassed RVP, couldn’t use Krul for the penalty shootout, as he did vs Costa Rica. Cillessen, showing exactly why he’s not favored as a penalty shot-stopper, was extremely poor, and did nothing to prevent Argentina setting up another meeting in the World Cup Final with Germany.

THIRD PLACE PLAY-OFF

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Brazil, seemingly still in a Die Mannschaft induced trance, surrendered third place to a Holland team that was far more up for the challenge on the day.

THE FINAL: Germany vs Argentina at the Maracana on Sunday July 13th

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Lionel Messi, forever compared to legend that is Diego Maradona, finally had the opportunity for the ultimate vindication. The little man from Rosario started brightly, as he skinned Mats Hummels on the right flank, scampered into the box, but couldn’t provide the telling pass.

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Gonzalo Higuain finished wastefully when presented with a guilt-edged chance just outside the box, but he thought he made amends with a tidy left-footed finish moments earlier. The center forward’s wild celebrations were cut short by the offside flag. Still 0-0.

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Germany, looking slightly off the pace, continued to concede space, and Messi found himself in on goal one vs one with Manuel Neuer. Everyone, myself included, awaiting the “inevitable” net-bulging moment, but Messi pulled the effort agonizingly wide. Still 0-0.

Germany v Argentina: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final

Keeping with what was a theme of the 2014 World Cup, the match went to extra time. Substitute Rodrigo Palacio spurned another glorious Albiceleste opportunity to take the lead, and that took their total of wasted clear-cut chances to 3.

Germany v Argentina: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final

Mario Gotze, on as a late sub as a last throw of the dice for Joachim Loew, provided a moment of individual class to settle the Final. Andre Schurrle, brilliant off the bench all tournament, drove down the left and delivered an accurate cross. Gotze, in acres of space, took the ball expertly on the chest and volleyed left-footed past the despairing dive of Sergio Romero to make Germany World Cup winners for the fourth time in their history (3 as West Germany).

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WORLD CUP NOTABLES

Golden Boot- James Rodriguez

Golden Ball- Lionel Messi

Golden Glove – Manuel Neuer

Best Young Player – Paul Pogba

Blogger picks ( Marcus Louison)

Golden Ball – Manuel Neuer

Best Young Player – Paul Pogba

Team of the tournament – 4-2-3-1 – Manuel Neuer; Phillip Lahm, Mats Hummels, Ezequiel Garay, Marcos Rojo; Javier Mascherano, Toni Kroos; Arjen Robben, James Rodriguez, Thomas Muller; Lionel Messi. 

Thanks for reading 🙂

ML

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Synopsis of the 2014 FIFA World Cup

  1. against

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