The World Cup is one of the few events around the globe that brings everybody together. How often does one hear, ‘I don’t watch #Football, except for the World Cup.’ We all congregate around the television with friends and family and enjoy a tournament that always conveys strong emotions. Every four years we witness something new and the 2014 tournament was labelled prior to its commencement as THE World Cup, in large part because Brazil was the host. While the sport may have been invented by the English, the spiritual home of football is widely recognised as Brazil. 

The 2014 tournament was special for a number of reasons.

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To start, 2014 matched a record, that of the competition with most goals scored, 171. Mario Goetze’s winner in extra time against Argentina equalled the record previously set by France ’98. Goals is one of the reasons we immediately fell in love with this World Cup, in fact during the group stages there was an average of three goals a game. Something which naturally decreased as the tournament progressed and teams became more cautious.

Despite the high number of goals, it was also a tournament for goalkeepers. Manuel Neuer ended the tournament as a world champion but during the competition he re-defined his role. Germany played with such a high defensive line that Neuer acted not only as a goalkeeper but as a sweeper often coming and playing the ball well outside of his area. While Neuer did not surprise many for his ability, perhaps Keylor Navas did.

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Navas had been one of the best goalkeepers in La Liga throughout the season, but the fact he played for Levante limited his exposure. The World Cup put his talent on display with many labelling him Spiderman for the extraordinary performances against Greece and subsequently the Netherlands. Yet, the match against the Dutch will not be remembered for his heroics, but those of Tim Krul. The Newcastle goalkeeper came on for the final 30 seconds of the match and went on to save two penalties in the shootout, sending the Netherlands to the semi-finals. Neuer, Navas, Krul, but also Rais of Algeria who’s heroics almost eliminated Germany in the second round and Guillermo Ochoa of Mexico. He too spent much of the World Cup saving the impossible, and incredibly he is without a team having been released by Ajaccio in France at the end of the season. There is no doubt that Brazil was a World Cup for goalkeepers and will be remembered for this too. 

Of course, like every tournament, it was one of surprises.

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While Costa Rica’s tournament was a surprise, Brazil’s downfall was pure shock. The host nation’s 7-1 collapse at the hands of Germany was the biggest defeat in the country’s history and will leave a mark on the nation for decades to come. This combined with their 3-0 defeat to the Netherlands in the third place playoff means Brazil are the team to have conceded the most goals in the competition, 14. In fact, I thought back and realised that perhaps the most unfortunate moment for Brazil was Mauricio Pinilla’s crossbar in the 90th minute of the Selecao’s second round match against Chile. Had that gone in, Brazil would have been eliminated in the second round, a disaster yes, but nothing compared to what was to follow. 

Yet, Brazil are also the team and the country that transmitted the strongest emotion in the tournament. It was worth watching every Brazil match, because the national anthem, sung a cappella by a sea of yellow in the stadium was one of the most incredible sights one could ever wish to see, it’s one of the moments we will tell our children about, something that gives me goosebumps as I write about it. 

The 2014 World Cup has been a special tournament, a record breaking tournament. In many ways it was THE World Cup, not because Brazil produced what we expected on the pitch. but because the country and fans produced what we didn’t expect off the pitch and Brazil proved to be the most beautiful back drop. It ended in perfect fashion, Germany deservedly lifted the World Cup, but it ended with a surreal image. As the final was being played in the Maracana, the cameras caught the statue of Christ the Redeemer who appeared to be holding the bright orange sun as it set of the city of Rio de Janeiro - spectacular to say the least.  #Worldcup 2014