The 2014 World Cup has provided some memorable moments and lots of entertainment, but who have been the winners and losers of the tournament?
Best Player: Thomas Muller– The German is only 24 years old, but already has 10 World Cup goals to his name, six shy of the record set by teammate Miroslav Klose. Muller’s five goals and three assists this time round have been pivotal to his side’s success in winning the tournament, and he has been one of the standout players in a very strong Germany team.
Best individual performance: Tim Howard (vs Belgium, last 16)– The Everton keeper was sensational against a Belgium side with the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas, making 15 saves in that game, a record amount of saves for one game since 1966. Howard was unbeatable at the back, making save after save, and carried his team through the game. USA eventually lost 2-1 in extra time, but Howard’s efforts did not go unnoticed, and his defensive solidarity and ability to save anything that came his way lead to the hashtag “#ThingsTimHowardCouldSave” trending worldwide, and Howard was even drug-tested after the game!
Surprise Package: Costa Rica– With an honourable mention to Algeria for their brave efforts, the Central American side surprised everyone by topping Group D, defeating Uruguay and Italy in the process, and were only a penalty shootout away from reaching the semi-finals. Not bad for a side ranked 34th in the world on the eve of the tournament! Costa Rica remained unbeaten throughout the tournament, and kept a clean sheet against Holland in the quarter-final, before going out on penalties.
Best game: Brazil 1-7 Germany (Semi-final, 8th July)– An embarrassment to the footballing legacy of the Selecao, this game highlighted both Brazil’s defensive frailty and Germany’s attacking strength. Brazil were torn apart in a game that broke so many records, including four Germany goals in just six first half minutes. It was certainly the most entertaining game at this year’s tournament.
Underachievers: Spain– The World Cup holders, and Euro 2012 champions, slumped out of the tournament with barely a whimper, being utterly destroyed by Holland, before disappointing against Chile. A consolation win against Australia provided something for the Spanish fans to cheer about, but Vicente Del Bosque and his men have certainly underachieved here.
Villain of the Tournament: Luis Suarez– No prizes for guessing this one. The bite on Giorgio Chiellini was bad enough, but the attempt at a cover-up by the Uruguayan (claiming that he “fell into the defender, hitting his mouth on his shoulder”) was nothing short of farcical. Suarez is undoubtedly a very good player, but his temperamental nature has left Liverpool with no other option than to sell him.