The 2014 FIFA World Cup produced many magical moments. Players across the world captivated fans as they watched the World Cup unfold right before their eyes. ISH Soccer Writer, Adam Leightman, looks back at some of the best and worst moments from the World Cup.
Best Goal: Robin Van Persie (Netherlands)
Was Tim Cahil’s volley against the Dutch better? Maybe, but the impact of Van Persie’s goal is why I think it was the best goal of the tournament. At the time of the goal Spain was beating the Dutch 1-0. Spain were controlling the game and David Silva missed a chance to double the Spanish lead. Just one minute after Silva’s miss, Daley Blind received the ball by the benches and sent a 40 yard ball to the top of the box. Van Persie out-ran two defenders and chipped Spanish Goalie, Iker Casillas, with a diving header from 18 years. That goal sparked a 4 goal second half from the Dutch in route to a 5-1 thrashing of the former World Champions. Spain on the other hand could not recover from the goal, losing to Chile 5 days later, and were eliminated from the tournament after just two games.
Worst Miss: Mauricio Pinilla (Chile)
Chile were heavy underdogs against Brazil in the Round of 16 clash. Brazil scored early, but Chile equalized at the end of the first half. The game went to extra time and it appeared the game was heading to penalties. In the 120th minute, Pinilla received the ball at the top of the box turned and took a shot that hit the crossbar! It was not a simple shot, but he had Brazilian Goalie, Julio Caesar beaten and he just had to put the ball 5 inches lower and he would have knocked the hosts out of the tournament in the round of 16. Football is a very cruel sport, if he had made the shot, it would have been the goal of the tournament, but instead it is the miss of the tournament.
Best Individual Performance: Tim Howard (USA VS. Belgium)
On July 1, 2014 the USA faced off against Belgium in a Round of 16 matchup. Although the USA made it out of the Group of Death, they were still underdogs against a strong Belgium team. Belgium had a relentless attack on the US defense and Tim Howard. However, Howard was up for the challenge. He made save after save after and after 90 minutes the game was scoreless 0-0. Although the USA went on to lose the game 2-1 in Extra Time, Tim Howard finished the game with 16 (!) saves in the game, a World Cup record. Tim Howard inspired a nation and returned home a hero.
Worst Individual/Team Performance: David Luiz/ Brazil (VS. Germany)
David Luiz was the captain and center back when Brazil got thrashed 7-1 by Germany so he deserves a good amount of the blame, but everyone else on the team was rubbish as well so they get to share the title with him. The Semi-Final started with end to end action, it even appeared that Brazil was going to scored first. But in the 10th minute Thomas Muller was left wide-open as he finished cooly into the bottom corner of the net off of a Tony Kroos corner kick. Brazil responded with some decent chances, but in the 23th minute Miroslov Klose made it 2-0 after great build up play from Muller. Brazil were shell-shocked and turned into a Sunday League Team. By the 29th minute the Germans lead 5-0. The defense was unorganized as the Germans walked to score so many simple goals. When the final whistle sounded the Germans had trounced the hosts 7-1. Brazil were out of the party they spent so much money to put on.
Best Decision: Coach Louis Van Gaal bringing on Tim Krul for Penalties (Netherlands)
The Dutch were in a quarterfinal clash against Costa Rica, and with the score tied at 0-0 after 120 minutes, Louis Van Gaal decided to bring on thrid-string goalie Tim Krul on for the penalty shootout. Van Gaal knew it was a risk to save a sub for the end of the game, but knew that Krul had experience saving penalties. The gamble paid off. Krul saved two penalties and helped the Dutch advance to the semifinals to face Argentina.
Worst Decision: Luis Suarez Biting Giorgio Chiellini
Uruguay and Italy were playing their third group stage games. The winner of the game would advance to the knockout rounds. With the scored tied late in the second half, Suarez and Italian defender, Chiellini, collided in the box. Suarez decided to take a bite into Chiellini’s shoulder. Suarez then decided to roll around the pitch acting like Chiellini did something to him. Somehow, the ref missed the incident and Suarez continued to play. Uruguay went on to win the game 1-0 and advanced to the Round of 16. However, FIFA took action and suspended Suarez for 4 months. Suarez was suspended for the round of 16 tie against Colombia. With little attacking threat, Uruguay lost 2-0 to Colombia and their World Cup was over.
Most Surprising Team: Costa Rica
Los Ticos took the World Cup by storm. Many people (Including myself) gave the Ticos no chance of advancing out of a group with Italy, Uruguay, and England. Costa Rica gave up an early penalty in their first game against Uruguay and trailed at the half 1-0. However an amazing second half performance saw the Ticos score three times and win 3-1 against the 2010 semifinalists. In their second game against Italy, Costa Rica defended well and found the winner early in the second half winning 1-0. Costa Rica were through after just 2 games! In the Round of 16, the Ticos continued their magical run by beating Greece in a penalty shootout. Their amazing run ended in the quarterfinals after a heartbreaking defeat to the Netherlands in another penalty shootout. Costa Rica, USA, and Mexico showed the World that CONCACAF will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
Most Disappointing Teams: European Powers (Italy, England, Portugal, Spain)
These teams had so much promise heading into the World Cup, but it quickly disappeared when the tournament started. In their first games Spain and Portugal were both thrashed by 4 goals. Italy beat England, but went on to lose their next two games. Spain lost 2-0 to Chile at Maracana stadium and even though they beat Australia 3-0 they had no chance of advancing. England went on to lose to Uruguay 2-1 and their World Cup was over before their third game as well. Portugal after losing 4-0 to Germany, drew the US 2-2 although they deserved to lose. They beat Ghana 2-1 in the third game but the 4-0 defeat to Germany destroyed their goal difference allowing the USA to advance.
Best Game: Argentina 3-2 Nigeria
Argentina and Nigeria faced off on Match Day 13. This was both teams third and final group stage game. Argentina started off the scoring in the 4th minute with Lionel Messi strike into the roof of the net. One minute later Nigeria equalized with a great strike from Musa. At the end of the first half Messi Magic struck again as he curled in a free kick to give Argentina a 2-1 lead at the half. Just two minutes into the second half Musa scored again to level the score at two. However two minutes after Nigeria equalized Argentina took the lead through a Rojo knee on a corner to give them a 3-2 lead. Argentina defended well the rest of the game and secured the full 3 points.
Best Player: James Rodriguez (Colombia)
James Rodriguez was one of the shining stars of the World Cup. He scored six goals in five games including one of the goals of the tournament against Uruguay. He inspired a nation that had not been to the World Cup in 16 years. As a 22 year old he looked like a World Cup Veteran determined to lead Colombia to World Cup glory. Rodriguez won the Golden Boot for most goals scored at the tournament. Lionel Messi won the Golden Ball for best player at the World Cup, but I believe it should have gone to Rodriguez. He has a bright future and surely we will see him shine in Russia in 4 years.
Make sure to come back to ISH as we continue to review the World Cup and Preview the upcoming seasons in Europe!