Wow, what a tournament this was. From late game drama to breath-taking goals such as the one by Colombia’s James Rodriguez and even cannibalistic controversies it seems that this tournament had it all. 31 days ago, Brazil edged past Croatia 3-1 with the help of a Neymar brace and today Mario Gotze served as the hero and final goal scorer as a tourney-long dominating Germany took home the title 1-0 over a devastated Argentina.
From early on this tournament seemed to be offense offense offense as goals were scored at a rapid rate, completely reverse to the defensive tendencies from South AFrica in 2010. We witnessed several surprises in the Group stage. Spain, one of the favorites to lift the cup, exited in the group stage following a 5-1 hammering by Netherlands and a devastating 2-0 defeat to Chile. Colombia were efficient as they rolled over Greece, Cote D’Ivoire, and Japan en route to a top finish in Group C. Costa Rica shocked the footballing planet as they finished on top of Group D, a group of death, featuring former champions Italy, Uruguay, and England. Bosnia and Herzegovina, first timers at the World Cup but still favored to advance, exited after demoralising losses to Nigeria and Argentina.
USA’s 2-1 late victory over Ghana sparked a mass following of the World Cup in the States albeit the victory did come at a cost as star American forward Altidore injured his hamstring which would keep him out for the rest of the competition. In their next match the Americans faced Portugal, fresh off a 4-0 drubbing by the Germans and were able to take a 2-1 seemingly unassailable lead but Silvestre Varela broke American hearts as he smashed the ball past Tim Howard to end the match in a disappointing draw. The Americans were able to advance despite a 1-0 loss to Germany, and responded to their many critics by managing to get out of an extremely difficult group.
In complete contrast, the knockout round was characterized by low scoring and tight defending. Brazil kicked things off with a narrow penalty kick win over Chile after two potentially game winning Chilean shots hit the crossbar. Uruguay, missing star striker Suarez due to an absurd biting incident, never seemed to trouble star James Rodriguez and Colombia in their 2-0 loss. Netherlands then broke many Mexican hearts after a controversial penalty took them to a 2-1 win over Mexico and Costa Rica defied the odds and reached the quarters following a penalty kick win over Greece. France and Germany followed suit by posting narrow wins over their respective African opponents, Nigeria and Algeria. Argentina edged past Switzerland 1-0 and despite Tim Howards record-breaking 16 saves, the United States were eliminated by Belgium 2-1 ending a brilliant run for the Americans.
The quarters were not much different. Brazil slipped past Colombia 2-1 by keeping James Rodriguez in check although the victory came at a cost as Neymar, the side’s star forward, was rule out of the tourney with a broken back and Thiago Silva the star center back come captain was suspended following his picking up of 2 yellow cards. Germany dominated possession against France and was able to win 1-0, Costa Rica lost to the Dutch after penalties following a scoreless 120 minutes, ending a unbelievable run for the Ticos, and Argentina with an early goal by Gonzalo Higuain downed the Belgians 1-0.10 Interesting Facts about the 2014 World Cup
The stage was then set for the semi-finals with two dream matches, Germany vs Brazil and Argentina vs Netherlands. The crowd gathering at Belo Horizonte had no idea what was to come from the Germans. With an astounding 4 goals in a 10 minute span the German “machine” devastated the unorganized, lazy, and unmotivated Brazilians 7-1 smashing a ton of FIFA records in the process. The Brazilians were in shock as their dream of lifting the cup on home soil were in ruins. The Argentina Netherlands game was a polar opposite to the first semifinal. Following a defensive minded and goalless 120 minutes, the match was headed to penalties. After two Dutch missed penalties, the true Brazilian nightmare was realized. The Argentinians were headed to the World Cup final in Rio and the Brazilians would not be participating.
In the 3rd place match, the stage was set in the capital for the Brazilians to rally behind their 7-1 drubbing and win it for pride. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be as the Dutch got off to an early lead following a controversial Robben penalty and never looked back, scoring 2 more and taking the bronze medals with a 3-0 win. This was the first back to back losses on home soil by the Brazilians in 80 years, ending a depressing and horrifying tournament for Brazilian fans everywhere.
But the World Cup had one more match in store, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final, a match soccer fans have been waiting for, a match oozing with storylines; could Messi bring home the cup like Maradona did in ‘86 or will the German machine move on, winning their first title since 1990. The match started off slow, similar to the Argentina Netherlands. Germany seemed to dominate the possession but Argentina had the better chances. After a dull and possession oriented 90 minutes the match was headed to extra time. The first period of extra time was more of the same possession game from the 1st 90’ and the match seemingly was headed to penalties. But young Bayern Munich false 9 Mario Gotze would have none of that. After a short extra time halftime, Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle made a beautiful run down the left touchline and after a fantastic cross, Gotze was able to bring it down and smash the ball past Sergio Romero from a difficult angle to give the Germans the lead. Lionel Messi won a free kick on the right side of the box in the dying seconds of the match but placed the ball far over the crossbar. The whistle blew three times and the Germans extinguished their streak of multiple 3rd place and 2nd place finishes and delivered to the German people the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The 2nd place medals were handed out to the distraught Argentinian players, who played a terrific match with fantastic organization, specifically on the defensive third of the field. The Germans then lifted the cup, after a dominating run through the tournament and broke the hearts of the thousands of Argentines in Rio as well as the millions more around the globe.