The good, the bad and the ugly of Brazil 2014
Independent.ie's alternative World Cup Awards
Following an entertaining World Cup which saw 64 quality games and 171 goals. We at independent.ie have compiled the best and worst from the tournament in Brazil for your perusal.
Before a ball was kicked in Brazil, the battle lines were drawn. It was a straight shootout between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, while others like Neymar and Arjen Robben were pretenders to the crown. Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez was the surprise package who was the outstanding flair player, but for all the attacking quality on show in Brazil, it was a defender who ruled the roost with Mats Hummels outstanding for the victorious Germans.
The World Cup exploded out of the blocks with an avalanche of goals. The trend was well and truly bucked on Monday, June 16, when Iran and Nigeria played out a dour 0-0 draw.
Tim Cahill can feel hard done by for his outrageous volley for Australia against Holland, but James Rodriguez's strike against Uruguay in the last 16 gets our vote. The Colombian striker had no right to even attempt a shot when he controlled the ball with his back to goal 25 yards out. To chest the ball to his side, turn and volley home in the manner he did was simply stunning.
BEST YOUNG PLAYER
James Rodriguez grabs his second award here. The Colombian star, plying his trade with French side Monaco, will have plenty of big hitters from around Europe chasing his signature following a fine tournament that saw him net six goals.
The evergreen Mario Yepes at the tender age of 38 scoops this award. The centre half was outstanding in Brazil and offers plenty of hope to Ireland and the likes of Richard Dunne ahead of the Euro qualifiers in September.
Fair enough, they didn't have that far to travel, all things considered. But Argentina brought plenty of numbers, noise, colour, stunning women and one memorable rendition of the4 Beach Boys' Sloop John B in in a Brazilian restaurant.
How Canadian referee Joe Fletcher wished he had a mop of hair as Spain and Chile prepared to walk out of the tunnel for their clash in the group stages. Fletcher went to shake the hand of a well-dressed FIFA official. But as Fletched extended his hand, he was snubbed and left with only one option - run the hand through his hair. But Fletcher doesn't have any hair and was the source of much amusement from the watching Iker Casillas.
Brazil 2014 was the World Cup that made Americans love ‘soccer’. And the match that captured American hearts was their second group stage game against Portugal. A Team USA victory would put them through to the knockout round and send Ronaldo and co. home.
Manchester United’s forgotten man, Nani put the Europeans ahead early one, before one of the goals of the tournament from Jermaine Jones equalised for Jurgen Klinsmann's men. Clint Dempsey’s abdomen looked like it would be sending the Yankees through, before the cruelest of late blows: An otherwise anonymous Cristiano Ronaldo put in the perfect cross for Varela to head in the 94th minute of normal time. Portugal had stayed in the competition by the skin of their teeth.
BEST LOOKING FAN
With the cameramen doing their honest day’s work by documenting the best moments of the tournament, as well as picking out the best fans, this was a tough category to call. But there can only be one winner and that is Adrianna Lima. The Victoria Secret model and Brazilian fan was kind enough to post a picture on her Instagram account with model friend Alessandra Ambrosio. She was also spotted at some Brazil games and is hands down the best looking fan.
The French jersey has to be the winner here. Croatia draw a close second, but the smart French collared kit courtesy of Nike kept Benzema and co looking extra slick.
Considering the quality of players they have, it is hard to believe how poor the Belgian attire is in comparison. The Red Devils jersey looks like something your youth team coach would give you when the main kits are in the wash. Burrda, the Swiss/Qatari brand has certainly not done the star studded Belgian side any justice with this one.
This category has many contenders, with Raul Meireles and Kyle Beckerman coming close but there can only be one winner and that is Inter and Argentina playmaker Rodrigo Palacio. The rat tail has never been a popular cut and despite the midfielder’s attempts with this shocking doo, we don’t think it ever will.
BEST PREMIERSHIP PLAYER
With an underwhelming World Cup performance from the Premier League contingent, Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar has been our stand out player. Vlaar has done exceptionally well to stand up from a team who were fighting promotion to losing out on penalties in the World Cup semi final. The concrete centre half played every minute of the Netherlands brilliant campaign and his performance against Argentina will stand out as the best defensive display of the campaign, despite missing a penalty. His form will leave Villa fans relishing the prospect of their skipper lining out for them in August.
BEST LESSER KNOWN PLAYER
The World Cup has always been an excellent platform for unknown players to become superstars over night and Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa certainly fits this description. The 29-year old is currently a free agent after he was released by second tier French side AC Ajaccio. After his sensational overall World Cup display, and his man of the match performance against The Netherlands, he has been chased by the biggest clubs in Europe, with Barcelona favourites the snap up the Mexican keeper.
This category is a tie between Costa Rica and Colombia, but the former have to edge it out for topping a group that contained England, Italy and Uruguay. With a population of 4.5 million people, the Costa Ricans were expected to lose every game and crash out in the group stages, but instead they made it to the quarter finals where they lost out to the Netherlands on penalties. No doubt Brazil ’14 will go down in history for the Costa Rican faithful.
Manchester United fans will be excited to see what their new man will do after an excellent display of decision-making skills. To bring on Tim Krul for the penalty shootout against Costa Rica will go down as a managerial masterstroke. Van Gaal also seemed to get the best out of his players, with the likes of Daley Blind and Ron Vlaar looking like world beaters. The Netherlands were knocked out on penalties to Argentina in a very close game and went on to hammer Brazil 3-0 in the third place play off. Their fans will look back in delight after what has been a memorable campaign, with their 5-1 demolition of world champions Spain the stand out moment.
With the most expensive team in the tournament, and reigning champions, Vicente Del Bosque will have to go down as the worst manager for not getting his side through the group stages. After a 5-1 hammering from The Netherlands, and another 2-0 defeat to Chile, the Spaniards World Cup was over after two games. Del Bosque has astonishingly kept his job despite the results; however the pressure will be back on for his side to bounce back in Euro 2016.
BEST CELEBRITY FAN
The celebs have been brilliant at this World Cup. The likes of Rihanna, Hugh Jackman and Mick Jagger have showed their support for the festival of football but the winner has to be the anchorman himself Mr Will Ferrell. The American actor gatecrashed an American fan party to hype up the crowd for the USA’s clash with Germany. Ferrell claimed he would “Bite every player if he had to” and rallied the troops for the game. What a legend!
BIGGEST DRAMA QUEEN
There have been some memorable moments from the World Cup drama queens of 2014, but the winner has to be Neymar. The Barcelona forward seemed to have displayed every emotion known to man in the campaign. Crying before every game, roaring every time he was tackled but the crowning moment had to be intruding on Phil Scolari’s press conference after the side had lost 7-1 to Germany. A touching, yet Home and Away like moment from the Brazilian. David Luiz ran him a very close second with his antics.
BEST PANEL MOMENT
With RTE, ITV and BBC competing for the best World Cup coverage there was no shortage of dramatic moments. From Martin O’ Neill’s soul destroying comment to Viera and Cannavaro to Richie Sadlier and Kenny Cunningham’s war of words, but the winner has to be the one and only Éamon Dunphy with his “are we on?” moment. The RTE pundit managed to swear twice as he did not realise the cameras were rolling. Dunphy then apologised to the public afterwards. We wouldn’t have him any other way!
MOST OUTRAGEOUS CELEBRITY TWEET
Football is watched in a very different way in this day and age, with most people holding a smart phone and commenting on the game as they watch and the celebrities of the world are no different and they certainly contributed to the World Cup fun on twitter. Pop-star Rihanna has to be our winner in this category, as she showed that she actually knew a thing or two about football. Her tweets throughout the tournament were funny, clever, well timed and knowledgeable. Her picture with Miroslav Klose was a particular highlight.
The WAGs came to prominence when Sven Goran Errikson allowed the English players to bring their wives and girlfriends for the 2006 World Cup, and the expression has grown and grown since. The World Cup has been filled with amazing WAGs with the Germans adding to their brilliant result by showing off their other halves after the game. But the winner is someone who appeared before the game, and that was partner of Spanish centre back Gerard Pique. Shakira looked amazing in the closing ceremony of the World Cup, and despite some difficult competition from the Germans, this is one competition the Spanish have has success in!