2014

FourFourTwo - - WORLD CUP OF WORLD CUPS -

Host na­tion: Brazil Games: 64 Goals: 171 (2.67 per match) Dis­missals: 10 Venues: 12 Win­ners: Ger­many Top scorer: James Ro­driguez (6 goals)

It wasn’t much fun for the hosts – it was, in fact, an eco­nomic and foot­balling hellscape – but for ev­ery­one else it was a ter­rific lark. Brazil pro­vided the sea, sun and samba-fu­elled party of cliché off the pitch, and on it, a truly fas­ci­nat­ing fi­nals un­folded. Eng­land were flac­cid and out in un­der a week, but else­where there was plenty of at­tack­ing qual­ity: a scorch­ing-hot Chile, Group-of-death-sur­viv­ing Costa Rica, the dy­namic Dutch and resur­gent Colom­bia. Ul­ti­mately it was all about the fad­ing of one great Euro­pean na­tion, Spain, and the rise of another, Ger­many.

STAR FAC­TOR

La­dles of Latin Amer­i­can love­li­ness: top scorer James Ro­driguez, Luis Suarez, Edin­son Ca­vani, Alexis Sanchez – plus the drama of Ney­mar’s bro­ken back and Lionel Messi as an ul­ti­mately thwarted player of the tour­na­ment. France’s Paul Pogba an­nounced him­self spec­tac­u­larly, while Ger­many’s Neuer, Ozil, Kroos, Muller, Gotze, Sch­we­in­steiger et al shone as true team cham­pi­ons.

WON­DER GOALS

Com­men­da­tions for James’ chest-twist-hit for Colom­bia against Uruguay, Messi’s 91st-minute whack against Iran and Tim Cahill’s ar­row for Aus­tralia against the Dutch. But Robin van Per­sie stole the show against Spain with a grav­ity-de­fy­ing Su­per­man header (left).

AG­GRO

It was shap­ing up to be one of the more un­con­tro­ver­sial tour­na­ments un­til Luis Suarez (be­low) de­cided to have a gnash on Italy’s Gior­gio Chiellini. He is­sued one of the best de­nials ever: “I lost my bal­ance and my face hit the player, caus­ing pain in my teeth.” Not that it did him much good – he got a nine-game ban.

THE THRILLERS

Ar­guably the most as­ton­ish­ing re­sult in World Cup his­tory, Ger­many’s bru­tal 7-1 hum­bling of the Sele­cao will for­ever plague the night­mares of Brazil­ians. With Ney­mar in­jured and de­fen­sive king­pin Thi­ago Silva banned, Die Mannschaft turned the screw. By the end, Mats Hum­mels ad­mit­ted they just “didn’t want to hu­mil­i­ate them”.

THE FI­NAL

Af­ter vi­o­lently poop­ing the hosts’ party, the Ger­mans were ex­pected to daz­zle, and get a bet­ter con­test from an Ar­gentina team fea­tur­ing The World’s Great­est Player. But they weren’t as ruth­less, while Messi put in a limp dis­play at the Mara­cana. The only goal was worth the ex­tra-time wait, though: a su­per chest-and-vol­ley from Mario Gotze.

LEGACY

Root-and-branch re­views and re­mod­els for an age­ing Spain, plus an ex­posed Brazil side who had been ex­pected to do much bet­ter.

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