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How will the 2014 World Cup be remembered

germany win 2014 wc

I am old enough to remember 15 World Cups.  Some stand out for outstanding football reasons like the emergence on the world stage of the 17 year old Pele in 1958 or Zinadine Zidane driving France to their only World Cup triumph in 1998. Others, sadly stick in the memory more for negative reasons – Zidane’s head-butt (2006) or Maradona’s “hand of god” goal in 1986.

I believe that 2014 World Cup will be remembered for many good things.  Just as people still talk about that Austria beating Switzerland 7-5 in 1954, I believe that Germany’s 7-1 semi-final win over hosts Brazil will be remembered for a long time. Not just for the convincing win but for for that 6 minute spell in which Germany scored three goals to put them 5-0 up. Has there even been a more decisive six minutes in the history of the World Cup?

Brazil were amazing hosts of the World Cup.  It was great to see the World Cup hosted in the country which loves football.  The way Brazil shuts down on a match day, has to be experienced to be believed.  That firecrackers and fireworks were set off in Rio when Brazil scored – even if the game is a 1000 miles from Rio was another indication of the country’s fanaticism for football.  All of this simply underlines the disastrous mistake FIFA has made in taking the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, which has no tradition in football.

The great shame for Brazil was that it was obvious from the first game that the national team was  a very poor Brazil team – and one which was very fortunate to get anywhere near the semi-final.  Brazil will be remembered for the large number of fouls committed and the players who seemed nothing like good enough to wear the Brazil shirt.  Coach Scolari had a disastrous tournament – making squad selection errors, choosing the wrong players in the starting line-up and getting the tactics wrong.

We will long remember the achievement of Costa Rica. Expected to finish bottom of their qualifying group, Costa Rica not only won it but progressed to the quarter final and even then only lost on penalties.

Spain had proved themselves to be the best team in the world 2004-2008 and it was sad to see that great Spanish team capitulate so easily – but I suppose all good things eventually come to an end.

With regard to finding the best player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo still looked to be carrying an injury and was far from his best in a struggling Portugal team.  Lionel Messi on the other hand scored spectacular goal in helping an average Argentina side to over-achieve.

Overall I thought it was a great World Cup tournament. The four semi finalists were the perfect combination – two from South America and two from Europe, reflecting the balance of power in world football. The way the semi-final draw left open the possibility of an all European final, an all South American and what we actually got one from each continent was magnificent.

Penalty shoot-outs provided drama, ecstasy and despair. A dreadful way to decide World Cup quarter and semi-finals but is there a better one?  History will remember and applaud the courage of Dutch coach, Louis van Gaal in substituting his goalkeeper before winning a penalty shoot-out.

And finally the 2014 World Cup will be remembered for magic spray at freekicks. What a simple but brilliant innovation!

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