A World Cup tournament for the ages

By Annie Randhawa

The FIFA World Cup — the biggest single-sport event in the world — wrapped up in Brazil on Sunday.

The month long tournament began June 12 when host nation Brazil opened the tournament with a 3–1 win over Croatia.

Brazilian forward Neymar showed why he’s carrying the weight of a nation on his shoulders when he scored twice in the opening match with a goal in each half.

The Brazilian’s success in the group stage was cut short after a draw against Mexico, leaving the first-place spot open in the group’s final matches.

Brazil’s great start led them to the Round of 16. They first faced Chile who proved to be a tough competitor when the game went to a penalty shootout. The game was millimetres away from going to Chile when the last kick went off the post. Brazil’s goalkeeper, Julio Cesar, redeemed himself from his terrible performance in the last World Cup, landing Brazil in the quarter-finals with a 3–2 win.

Brazil went on to defeat Colombia in the quarter-finals 2–1. However, the win was bittersweet, as Neymar suffered a tournament-ending spinal injury via a tackle by defender Juan Zúñiga that went unpenalized.

Brazilian coach Luis Felipe Scolari seemed stressed about losing his key player, but fans could still taste World Cup glory with the prospect of a win against their upcoming opponents, Germany.

The nightmare of losing this close to the end became reality when the eventual tournament champions, Germany, obliterated Brazil by scoring four goals in six minutes, with the final score 7–1 for the Germans.

Brazil went on to play the Netherlands for the third place spot. The Dutchmen came to Brazil with a vengeance after losing to Spain 1–0 in the 2010 World Cup finals.

The Netherlands opened their competition against Spain. Robin van Persie scored an impressive goal by diving to head the ball with a deep assist from Daley Blind that tied the score 1–1. The Dutch got their revenge in the second half by dethroning Spain with a 5–1 win.

Spain was shocked over the defeat and never recovered. They lost back-to-back games in the group stage, and the defending champions were quickly eliminated.

There were a few Cinderella teams to make it into the Round of 16. Greece made history by competing in the knockout stages for the first time, but got eliminated by Costa Rica 5–3 in penalty kicks. USA snuck into the Round of 16 and knocked out tournament heavy-weights Portugal. However, USA’s glory was short lived as they later lost 2–1 to Belgium in the quarterfinals.

Belgium was said to be the dark horse of the World Cup and they lived up to it by making the quarterfinals. But they couldn’t beat Argentina’s forward Lionel Messi, who set up Gonzalo Higuain for the game winning goal.

The Dutch would not back down in their attempt to claim the championship title. They tied Costa Rica, sending the game to a penalty shootout and won 4–3, furthering their chances to take the championship.

The semi-finals featured heavyweights Argentina and Holland. Argentina won 4–2 in penalty kicks, securing their spot in the finals against Germany.

The game was anything but redeeming for the Brazilians. They lost 3–0 to the Dutch, which placed them fourth in the world.

The final match between Germany and Argentina kept everyone on their toes when the match went into extra-time.

In the 88th minute, Mario Gotze was subbed on for Miroslav Klose. In the 112th minute, Gotze, at the tender age of 22, scored the defining goal for the Germans to win the 2014 World Cup.

The Golden Glove of the World Cup was awarded to Germany’s “keeper sweeper,” Manuel Neuer. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi was rewarded the Golden Ball for being the most outstanding player in the tournament.

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