18 things we’ll tell our grandchildren about the World Cup

The Rio Report

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World Cup - Super Mario wins the World Cup for Germany

The goal that won the World Cup final and also the goal that didn't

It was a good World Cup final, not a great one, but the winning goal from Mario Goteze is one that we will never forget. To score the winning goal in the biggest game in football is something every kid dreams about and we can only imagine what the Bayern Munich youngster must have felt as he controlled the ball and fired home a sublime finish. Very few people will ever get to experience that feeling, although one man who did was Gonzalo Higuain (for about 30 seconds) before his goal in the first half was rightly ruled out for offside.

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Spain 1-5 Netherlands Even viewed without the obvious context of a great team being humbled, this was an extraordinary game, the Dutch systematically dismantling a Spain side that looked shellshocked and toothless. Robin van Persie’s utterly extraordinary flying, twisting, lob header was perhaps the most absurd goal of the tournament, in a magnificent way. It was one of those occasions when more or less everything the Dutch tried went in, with goals of just about every possible stripe, from a scruffy bundle after a corner, to capitalising on a defensive error, and a solo slaloming effort. Spain going out

Marca: THE END. Lamentable end of the most glorious era of La Roja. pic.twitter.com/mZWd4vr9gH — Sport Witness (@Sport_Witness) June 19, 2014

The writing was on the wall after that first humiliation, but Spain’s fate was sealed by another defeat a few days later, this time to Chile. It was of course hailed as the end, perhaps not of ‘tiki taka’ but of this once-great team, the 2014 World Cup being a step too far for the likes of Iker Casillas, David Villa and Xavi. Villa broke down in tears after being substituted, a very visual representation of this era-defining side coming to the end with a juddering, forceful thump.

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Brazil go a goal down against Croatia

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We had the months of build-up, we had the years of anticipation, we had the documentaries about the social problems in Rio, we had the articles about 1950 and all that, we had the a cappella national anthem…and then 11 minutes into Brazil’s big jamboree, the host nation goes a goal down, and to an own-goal, no less. There then descended a look of horror over the faces of all the Brazilian players, terrified about what might happen to them if they lost this, the opening game in their World Cup. If only they knew what was to come…

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Brazil 1-7 Germany

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Some people have complained that this was a boring match because it was so one-sided. It’s tempting to ask these people exactly why they are watching football, and what they are expecting to get out of it. This wasn’t just the hosts of a World Cup losing, it was a country trying to redeem themselves after a 64-year scar, and being utterly blown away, humiliated and the scar ripped open with a pair of rusty pliers. That, by any stretch of the imagination, is not boring. It was an extraordinary humiliation of the sort we may not see ever again, and we were all around to witness it. If that isn’t something to tell the grandchildren, then nothing is.

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Neymar gets injured

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Of course, when a host country’s best player gets injured it will always be big news, particularly when that injury is as unusual in football terms as a broken back, but an entire country seemed to lose its mind after Neymar was nobbled by Juan Zuniga. Witness the scenes before the semi-final, when David Luiz held up a Neymar jersey during the national anthems – it made it look as if they were commemorating a recently deceased friend, rather than an injured colleague, and at best smacked of a team getting its excuses in early, at worst of a dreadful defeatist attitude. Which, as it turns out, was accurate.

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Fred

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Poor guy. It almost feels unfair to single out one Brazil player as being awful, particularly after the Germany game, but the a lack of quality will always be most stark at either end of the pitch. Fred’s domestic scoring record actually isn’t too bad in recent seasons, but of Brazil’s many problems, a clear lack of any sort of cutting edge was perhaps the most serious.

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Luis Suarez’s bite

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Behind the moralising, the hand-wringing and the what-about-the-childrening, the simple truth of Luis Suarez’s bite on Giorgio Chiellini is that it was really, really funny. Although, given that this was the third time that Suarez has committed such a sin, the question must be asked of whether it’s possible to be stunned, but at the same time not in the least surprised. The subsequent fall-out made it all the funnier, with Suarez first denying that anything had happened, then admitting that something had happened but it was all an accident, before finally admitting what he’d done and apologising for it, but not before Diego Maradona and the presidents of Uruguay and Venezuela chipped in.

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England going out without winning a game and somehow get away with it

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In this World Cup England played three games, didn’t win any of them, scored two goals and their only points came via a 0-0 draw against a Costa Rica side who had already qualified. And yet they were applauded off by the fans who went to watch that game. It was either an enormous mass hypnosis event, the heat had just got to everyone or a combination of some half-decent performances and Roy Hodgson’s trick of lowering expectations coming off rather spectacularly. It’s probably the latter.

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James Rodriguez’s goal

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While we would incur the wrath of European football experts everywhere by saying this World Cup saw a star born in James Rodriguez, it is at least true that one of the brightest young talents in the game graduated into being a genuine world-class talent. He scored some remarkable goals, from the run and dink against Japan to finishing off a superb team move for his second against Uruguay, but the one that will live in the memory is his first in that game, an astonishing chest and volley that was leant some aesthetic joy by it crashing in off the bar. The shot itself was obviously wonderful, but perhaps the most remarkable thing about it was how Rodriguez took the ball down on his chest, turning into a position to hit the volley almost before the ball had reached him. An astonishing strike from a potentially astonishing player and an astonishing decision from FIFA to give the player of the tournament to Lionel Messi ahead of him.

Miroslav Klose breaks Ronaldo’s record

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He might not hold it for very long, if Thomas Mueller keeps up his current rate of scoring, but it was somehow appropriate that Miroslav Klose would break Ronaldo’s World Cup goals record as the Brazilian Fenomeno watched on, the current pale imitation of Brazil taken apart and humiliated. Klose sits on 16 tournament strikes at the time of writing, which is all the more remarkable considering his club scoring rate (206 goals in 524 appearances) is relatively modest, or at least not quite what one might expect from the man who has scored more World Cup goals than anyone else in history.

Tim Krul comes on for penalties

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If for whatever reason Louis van Gaal tires of the football gig, then a career as a confidence trickster could be his next best bet. By bringing on Tim Krul for the penalty shoot-out of their quarter-final and it paying off, Van Gaal found a way of making himself look like a genius despite managing a team that couldn’t break down Costa Rica. Anyway, it did work, and whether that was down to poor penalties or Krul’s intimidation tactics is rather moot, and Van Gaal is a tactical, mind-games maestro.

Honduras try to boot France all over the place

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It’s a tactic as old as time, and one employed by countless lower-league sides in the FA Cup: if you’re not as good as your opponents, simply try and boot them up in the air as often as possible. Remarkably Honduras were only given four yellow cards in this game (two to Wilson Palacios), which perhaps speaks more to the leniency of the refereeing than it does to any misguided perception of their play. Make no mistake, the tactic was perhaps not so much to actually hurt the French players, but to goad them into a reaction, which worked on Paul Pogba, who was lucky not to be sent off.

Algeria goes mental

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It was hardly surprising that Algerian fans got quite excited after they drew with Russia to qualify for the second phase of the World Cup, because they had never done so before. However, quite a party occurred both on the streets of Paris (where France’s wins were largely met with relative indifference) and of course in Algiers. Tragically, at least two were killed amid the celebrations, as the mayhem caused several car crashes back at home.

USA! USA! USA!

The debate about whether Americans ‘get’ football can presumably now be put to bed, after a quite emphatic display of support from across the country. The USMNT may have only reached the second round, but a collection of young players and Juergen Klinsmann’s leadership clearly struck a chord with the American public, even if it did provide a platform for this nonsense

Cameroon have...an interesting time

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Head-butting a colleague? Pointlessly elbowing an opponent in the back, while running? Going out without winning a game, scoring only once and conceding nine? What’s not to love?

Ghana get paid

Apparently, flying $3million in cash over to Brazil from Ghana to pay their players after a dispute over bonuses is perfectly normal. That’s according to Ghanaian president John Dramani Mahama, anyway, who said: “There was a problem with the initial mode of transportation for the payment and so we made other arrangements that, while unconventional, were necessary.” That’s OK then. Defender John Boye was pictured kissing his stack of cash, so at least we know the players were grateful.

Jonathan Pearce gets confused

Say what you like about goal line technology, but the one criticism that’s pretty tricky to level at it is that it’s complicated. It really, really isn’t. The thing tells you if it’s over the line, and thus a goal, or not. Nevertheless, when France scored a goal at the second attempt after the first effort had hit the post, Jonathan Pearce got awfully confused, wondering why the technology first said no goal, then said it was a goal. He blamed confusion in the stadium, but no amount of mix-ups could explain exactly how baffled he seemed to be. Still, at least he wasn’t the only one…

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