William Hill - Bet £10, Get £30 in Free Bets!

So, that’s it…

A World Cup we have been waiting for in keen anticipation for four years is over.

It’s Over Already? Thanks For The Memories, Brazil!Nothing excited more than the greatest event in world football being held in the spiritual home of football, Brazil, and the host nation did not disappoint at all. Pre-tournament fears of riots, logistical nightmares and poor organisation were largely unfounded, with the public seemingly having put aside their struggles for the duration of the World Cup. The Brazilians were fantastic hosts, with their hospitality making players and tourists alike feel at home in their quest for global superiority and success. One might add, tongue in cheek, that the Selecao took hospitality to a whole new level by giving away ten goals in their final two games.

In it’s entirety, the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil must rank among one of the most entertaining tournaments in recent memory. There was no shortage of shocks, established nations being pushed to the very limit, and the odd hammering. In terms of atmosphere, few could have imagined the passion numerous national stadiums could encapsulate when particularly South American teams were in action. The roars and emotion could not have been louder when the hosts were in action, with their rendition of the national anthem ahead of every game stirring to all who witnessed it.

In terms of the eventual results, Germany were the deserved winners after a tournament where Die Nationalmannschaft showed their brilliance and resilience in equal measure. After having ripped the hosts to shreds in their semi-final, the entire Brazilian population seemed to be hoping for a German victory in the final, and not only because of the implications that would arise if their great rivals, Argentina, were to triumph at the Maracana Stadium, of all places. The German football association had indicated that their newly-built training compound would be left as it is for the community after the World Cup, and their policy of creating jobs for locals rather than flying in German staff made the champions even more liked among the public. Argentina came extremely close to a historic World Cup win, but falling at the last hurdle should not be seen as a failure rather than an extremely successful tournament. The likes of Javier Mascherano and Ezequiel Garay showed their quality with top performances throughout, even at times having to carry the likes of Lionel Messi, Angel di Maria and Sergio Agüero, who quite simply failed to live up to expectations.

Brazil didn’t have much to smile about, in a footballing sense, by the end of the tournament after their beloved Selecao had succumbed weakly to the Germans and the Dutch in consecutive games. The loss of Neymar was a bitter blow, but the general feeling among Brazilians is that their star would not have been able to single-handedly carry a team with numerous faults and weaknesses all the way to a sixth World Cup triumph, realistically. Another period of rebuilding surely looms for the Selecao, who have never really lived up to their legacy as the great entertainers of world football over the past decade or so. Louis van Gaal and his Netherlands side, on the other hand, can be very happy with a third-place finish, after having been given almost no chance of even making it out of their group before the tournament got started. Sure, they will feel that they might have gone all the way to the final if they had played better against Argentina, but the fact is that they can be quite happy with their accomplishments.

Of course, this World Cup, as all others, had its underdog stories and impressive performances from so-called minnow nations. However, the case can be made that this edition has seen even more than in previous incarnations of the greatest footballing festival there is. Costa Rica won the hearts and adulation of almost the entire footballing fraternity with their gutsy performances all the way to the quarter-final stage, where Bryan Ruiz and his troops came agonisingly close to eliminating the Dutch in a penalty shoot-out. Their tournament was characterised not only by resiliency, but also extremely impressive technical ability and great tactical awareness, as was seen in their wonderful wins over, most notably, Uruguay and Italy. Another South American nation that came to the fore in Brazil was Colombia, who didn’t even seem to miss injured striker Radamel Falcao unduly much as James Rodriguez blossomed in front of a global audience as a true superstar. Their road to the quarter-finals was as impressive as it was entertaining, and only the hosts could knock them out after an incredibly physical encounter.

Along with those two sides, the USMNT also showcased their steadily improving World Cup pedigree, with Jürgen Klinsmann and his men having beaten Ghana and drawn with Portugal en-oute to escaping the ‘group of death’, before pushing Belgium all the way. Tim Howard was among a number of goalkeepers who had fantastic tournaments, and he was nearly the singular reason why the USMNT advanced as far as they did. The likes of Mexico and Greece also managed to surpass all possible expectations, with the former incredibly unlucky to not have made it to the quarter-final stage by virtue of conceding two very, very late goals against the Dutch, breaking the hearts of the numerous traveling supporters.

Then there were the rotten apples, who failed spectacularly in no uncertain terms. England once again lead this list, with a number of uninspiring performances seeing the Three Lions head home with not as much as a single win in a group they expected to at least advance from. Italy will surely feel hard done by, having lost their deciding game against Uruguay in which the now-infamous Luis Suarez biting incident occurred. However, despite this, the fact of the matter is that a team of that stature should make it through the group stages, and their loss against Costa Rica means that they truly have only themselves to blame. Uruguay themselves were thoroughly disappointing, and were taken apart by Colombia in the round-of-sixteen. Belgium, despite having a very easy run in, flattered to deceive and were unceremoniously dumped out of the competition by an Argentina side who did not even need to be at their best to advance. Spain, the reigning champions, were of course battered and humiliated, and the less that is said about their title defence, the better.

It was a fantastic tournament, with drama and tension aplenty. Brazil outdid themselves, and now the question becomes whether Russia can emulate this fabulous World Cup in 2018.

Originally published at inthestandsport.com

Post written by Marco Conradie, Twitter: @MarcoConradie10
for InTheStandSport, Blog: inthestandsport.com, Twitter: @InTheStandSport

Note: The views expressed within this blog post are those of the contributing author, and may not necessarily reflect those of MatchDayApp Limited, its representatives or associated partners.

Image Credits
© Twitter/Steffen Seibert ‏@RegSprecher

Would you like to contribute to the MatchDayApp Blog? If so, please take a look at our guest blogger guidelines and get in touch.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,