Beautiful game? Some magic and not so magic moments
Some magic and not so magic moments from the 2014 World Cup.
GAME OF THE TOURNAMENT
Germany 7 Brazil 1
Not any of the three England played. For the sheer novelty of it, I would have to say that being in Belo Horizonte for Brazil's 7-1 stuffing stood out.
During that period in which Germany scored four goals in quick succession, it was as if anything could happen: a pitch invasion, a player, or players, walking off.
England 0 Costa Rica 0
As I follow England at the major tournaments, I am usually spoilt for choice in this category.
In the end, I would have to opt for the Costa Rica game. The Central Americans got the job done having already qualified. England went not with a bang, but a whimper. The rest of the world merely yawned.
James Rodriguez v Uruguay
A beautiful collection: Lionel Messi (v Iran), Arjen Robben (his second against Spain), Xherdan Shaqiri (v Honduras). David Luiz's goal against Colombia may not have trumped them all in terms of sheer quality, but what a time to score it. Overall, nothing beats James Rodriguez's chest-turn-volley against Uruguay.
Lionel Messi to Angel di Maria v Belgium
The mesmerising thing about this pass, as it evaded four defenders, was the perfection of the pace on the ball. Any quicker, or any slower, and it would not quite have been right. It was like a good chip onto the green with enough backspin to hold up at the pin. It was just a pity Di Maria did not score.
Bearing in mind this is written before the final, I have to go for one of the Germans without knowing whether they got over the line or not. Messi is the best player at this tournament.
The most effective performer over the course of the tournament has been Mueller. I'd like to think he shares qualities with some of the best English footballers in history, but they don't have anyone to compare to him at the moment.
Ultimately, the World Cup is about winning, and the team that makes history.
So, for all the great subplots and surprises, nothing, in my view, tops the final and the trophy presentation, however dreary or cautious the game might be.
As for the little curiosities that crop up over the course of the games, I did like the moment the Brazilian fans started applauding the Germans in the second half of the semi-final.
Steven Defour on Kim Shin-wook
There have been a few contenders, although one has to say that Alex Song's elbow on Croatia's Mario Mandzukic was faintly hilarious.
But the Belgian Defour's horrendous stamp on the South Korean Kim, for which he was rightly sent off, lingers in the mind. Watch his expression in the immediate aftermath. He meant it.
It has got to be the Chileans, if only for their attempts to rush the gates for the Spain match. In this sterile Fifa-controlled game when the real ticket scandals flow from the top, it did amuse me to see the horror at a wall and a telly being knocked over in the Maracana media centre. Brazilian TV reported on it as if it were a terrorist outrage.
It is hard to imagine the pressure on the Brazil team. I had always presumed they were under a lot of expectation to win regardless of where the World Cup was played. But seeing the crowds here gathering to watch games in parks and on beaches brought home just how much pressure these boys play under.