26        England misery

Whilst America was revelling in its new found ability at Football, England were hardly having a whale of a time. Slender 2-1 defeats to Uruguay and Italy left England dumped out of the competition by Costa Rica’s 1-0 win over Italy. Not since 1958 had England bowed out of the group stage and the first time without a win too. Cheer up; they won it eight years after that!

25 Cameroonian Match-fixing

After their brief stay in Brazil, Cameroon were subsequently subjected to match-fixing allegations as their football federation, Fecafoot, had confirmed they were investigating seven players who were involved during their three games in Brazil. A convicted match fixer correctly predicted the outcome of one of their results.

24 Diego Costa fights the world

Diego Costa, with his brand new nation of Spain took to the field against the Netherlands in their opening match. Cue a series of boos from the Brazilian public who felt betrayed by Costa’s nationality switch; he also headbutted Bruno Martins Indi in yet another scuffle.

23 Raheem Sterling goal

3 minutes in and England began brightly against Italy in their first game of the World Cup, Raheem Sterling shoots from 25 yards out, rippling the top corner of the net. The ‘goal’ banner from the BBC shoots up and England made an amazing start to the tournament. Cut to frantic celebrations up and down the country, only for a minute later the goal to be wiped out because it “didn’t go in.” England lose 2-1.

22 Lionel Messi shines at last?

The groups were hardly a tough time for the Argentine squad, beating Iran, Nigeria and Bosnia to get through. They didn’t set the world alight with their brilliance in one-goal wins against some of the tournament’s minnows. One person did drag them through into the second round though, it was Lionel Messi. The 4-time Ballon d’Or winner infamously did nothing in South Africa, only to return to Brazil by scoring four in three group games.

21 Guillermo Ochoa v Brazil

The two favourites for Group A met in the second tie in the group. A defensive five of Mexico along with a free agent in net shouldn’t have been too much of a problem for Neymar and co. However, a string of fine save after fine save helped Mexico hold Brazil to a 0-0 draw and instantly excite the British press of a potential move for the Mexican goalkeeper to Anfield and the Emirates.

20 Big names crash out early

A World Cup comes around once in a while where the big names fail to live up to their billing. 2002 saw Argentina, Portugal and France crash out at the groups whilst Holland didn’t even make it to the tournament. This time, however, the reigning champions became the fourth nation behind Brazil (1966), France (2002) and Italy (1950 & 2010) to crash out at the groups after lifting the trophy. Portugal couldn’t beat America whilst Italy were eliminated at the groups for the second successive tournament, alongside England.

19 Neymar’s injury

Neymar’s spinal bones are to Brazilians as the metatarsal bone is to England fans. 2-1 up in a quarter final with Colombia, Juan Zuniga inexplicably ended the poster boy’s tournament with a savage knee in the back. The melodrama ensued as a tearful Neymar was fearful for his career and thanking God that he can still walk. Sensationally, Scolari told the media that if Zuniga would’ve kneed Neymar two centimetres higher he would have been paralysed.

18 Dutch comeback v Mexico

Not even making the Netherlands’ top three moments in the World Cup was their second round comeback against Mexico. They had trailed through a second half Giovani dos Santos goal and with two minutes remaining the game was turned on its header by a Wesley Sneijder goal and a Klaas-Jan Huntelaar penalty. Louis van Gaal had almost manufactured the Manchester United comeback against Bayern Munich in 1999 just weeks before starting in his new role at Old Trafford.

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