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10 Memorable Stories of 2014 World Cup
The World Cup is over. It has been a fun ride filled with surprises, disappointments, wonder goals, stupid mistakes, and also a biting incident and a failed L’Oreal deal.
Here are 10 of the most memorable moments so far of World Cup 2014.
1. Germany reigns in Brazil
Germany won its fourth World Cup title, another one at the expense of Argentina, as Mario Goetze’s extra-time winner sank the resilient South American side.
The final at Estadio Maracana seemed destined for a penalty shootout before Goetze perfectly gathered an Andre Schurrle cross with his chest and swept in a left footer in the 113th minute, as as the Germans claimed their first world championship since they beat the same opponents in Rome in 1990.
Joachim Low’s side is the first European team to win the trophy in South America.
2. Korea disappoints
Korea’s golden generation of footballers who took the world by storm in 2002 has come and gone. The new crop of players led by Son Heung-min failed miserably.
After playing a spirited 1-1 draw against the Russians in their group opener, Korea suffered a defensive meltdown against Algeria and lost 4-2.
To have a shot at the knockout stages, Korea had to beat mighty Belgium by at least three goals. It lost 1-0 instead, despite its opponents playing with 10 men for most of the second half.
Angry supporters greeted the Korean players by throwing yeot candies at them at the airport, where a black-and-white banner that read “Korean Football is Dead!” was hung near the arrivals terminal.
Coach Hong Myung-bo resigned a week after receiving a vote of confidence from the sport’s national governing body.
3. End of an era
Defending champion Spain was seen as a contender, retaining the core of the players who had ruled world football for 10 years with their mastery of the short-passing game.
But after a shocking 5-1 defeat to the Netherlands in its group stage opener, followed with a listless 2-0 loss to Chile, Spain’s reign of terror ended with a whimper.
While it is hard to imagine Spain abandoning the “tiki taka” as the heart of its strategy, the country’s quick elimination exposed an urgent need for an update.
4. Brazil’s shocking 7-1 loss
It is difficult to say that Neymar and Thiago Silva would have made a difference in Brazil’s 7-1 semi-final loss to Germany.
Neymar is probably a great striker, but definitely not Terminator. Silva, the defensive captain, has never been accused of greatness and played poorly in the third-place match against the Netherlands days after the historic humiliation.
Still, one has to wonder whether the defeat would have been less lopsided or if Brazil would have managed to threaten if it had two of its most important players available against Germany.
Neymar was sidelined after Colombia’s Juan Zuniga drove a knee into his back, fracturing his vertebrae, during their quarterfinal. In that same match, Silva earned his second yellow card when he stupidly interfered with Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina’s kick.
5. Suarez bites an opponent, again
Uruguay superstar striker Luis Suarez was tossed out of the World Cup – although not until the end of the game - for chomping on Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.
Suarez, who served lengthy bans for biting opponents in his time with Liverpool and previous club Ajax, was suspended for nine international matches and four months from all football-related activities.
Uruguay defeated Italy 1-0 and eventually advanced to the round of 16, before losing to Colombia 2-1 and failing to reach the quarter-finals.
Suarez, who led the English Premier League in scoring with Liverpool last season, has inked a deal to take his cleats and teeth to Barcelona. He reportedly will lose 1/3 of his salary if he bites again.
6. Klose sets goal record
In Germany’s 7-1 semi-final rout of Brazil, veteran striker Miroslav Klose passed Brazil’s Ronaldo for the most goals scored in World Cup history.
With the Germans up 1-0, Klose, 36, scored his record-breaking 16th goal in the 23rd minute – and his historic strike opened a period of utter chaos.
That was his 16th goal in the World Cup.
7. James Rodriguez’s coming-out party
Brazil 2014 has had more than its share of spectacular goals.
The World Cup was only three days old when we thought we already seen the goal of the tournament: Robin Van Persie gliding across the grass to send a diving header over the hands of Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas, which ignited the 5-1 Dutch rout.
But Australian veteran Tim Cahill made a statement against the Dutch just days later when he latched on a cross-field ball and unleashed a thundering volley past the goalkeeper. Brazilian great Ronaldo called Cahill’s strike as one of the most beautiful goals ever scored at the World Cup.
Still, neither goal was as important and beautiful as the stunning distance volley from Colombian star James Rodriguez in the round-of-16 match against Uruguay.
With the game still at 0-0, Rodriguez gathered the ball on his chest with his back to the goal well outside the box and in one fluid motion turned and fired a left-footed screamer that grazed the crossbar before ripping the net.
Rodriguez later added another goal to seal the 2-0 win and put Colombia in the quarter-finals.
Rodriguez scored in the team’s 2-1 loss to Brazil in the quarter-final, cementing his status as the tournament’s breakout star with his creative playmaking and lethal finishing.
Rodriguez took the Golden Boot with six goals, one more than Germany’s Thomas Muller.
8. Algeria, Costa Rica shine
While the Germans have enjoyed a superb tournament, no opponent scared them more than the Algerians did in their round of 16 match.
Germany needed extra-time goals from Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil to escape with a 2-1 win and advance to the quarter-finals.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Algerians, who dominated for long stretches during the opening 90 minutes, but wasted too many opportunities against the rattled, three-time champions.
The loss capped an impressive tournament for the Desert Foxes, who devoured Korea 4-2 in their group stage meet and held Russia to a 1-1 draw to advance to the knockout stages.
Coach Vahid Halilhodzic, who earned high praise for his strategies against Korea and Germany, stepped down after the tournament. Many of his players left Brazil in tears, but were greeted as heroes on their return to Algeria.
Until further notice, Algeria should be seen as the flag-carrier of African football.
Costa Rica was the other underdog that shone. Having beaten Uruguay and Italy and drawn with England in the group stages, Costa Rica defeated Greece in a penalty shootout in their last-16 match, only to lose to the Netherlands by the same format n the quarter-final.
Joel Campbell, Costa Rica’s charismatic striker, would be dangerous in a pairing with Olivier Giroud should he ever get a chance at Arsenal.
9. Legacy of Lionel Messi tarnished?
Lionel Messi had an opportunity to step out of Diego Maradona’s shadow and stake his claim as the best footballer to come out of Argentina.
After the final, he was given the Golden Ball Award, for being the best player of the tournament, but he still has yet to win the World Cup.
Will it tarnish his legacy as one of the best player to ever play the game?
10. Rise and fall Belgian fan’s modeling career
Belgian football fan Axelle Despiegelaere. About two weeks ago, the 17-year-old was just a face in the crowd cheering for Belgium in the Group H match against Russia.
Then photographers spotted the gorgeous blond and her images went viral on social media. Published by websites and newspapers across the world, she end up landing a modeling contract with L’Oreal.
However, she had to post a picture of herself proudly posing with a gazelle she had shot dead on her Facebook, and she was quickly dropped by L’Oreal.