20 | Ronaldo’s Empty Dazzle
Ronaldo’s ridiculous party piece on the sidelines pretty much said it all about the Ballon d’Or winner's World Cup contribution: flashy, outrageous and ultimately irrelevant, as a decidedly average Portugal side whimpered out at the group stage.
19 | Vanishing Spray
South Africa had the vuvuzela, but the prize for the inanimate object with the greatest impact on 2014 was won hands-down by a can of foam. Beautifully simple, unexpectedly effective and with mild comedy value to boot. An unlikely star of the tournament.
18 | The Hansen v Shearer Showdown
As if the scoreline of Brazil v Germany wasn’t shocking enough, at half-time the BBC panel proceeded to implode in much the same way as the Brazil defence. Every time Alan Hansen inevitably blamed shocking defending for the scoreline, Shearer responded by argumentively congratulating the Germans for their brilliant attacking. A shaken Hansen, in his penultimate appearance for the BBC, held his ground but was ultimately left chastened by the exchange, resembling a scraggly lion being run out of camp by a young pretender with tight trousers and a smug smile.
17 | Brazilian Sing Along
Amid all the pre-tournament talk of protests and backlash, any worries about whether the Brazilians would get behind their football team was dispelled minutes before the first whistle blew in the opening match against Croatia when the Brazilian national anthem was belted out a capella by players and fans together, long after the actual music had stopped. Stirring stuff. Until it all went tits.
16 | Pepe 'Headbutts' Muller
When two of football's most hard-to-like characters engaged in an activity previously known as "handbags", the mop-haired Portugese was sent off for putting his head in Muller's face. Such was the vitriol from the BBC panel aimed at the Portuguese defender's stupidity that pundit Neil Lennon uttered the chilling line: "I'd be going through him like a hot knife through butter."
15 | Raheem Sterling’s Ghost Goal
When Raheem Sterling picked up the ball in the opening minutes of the first group game against Italy, shimmied past a defender and fired off a perfect long-ranger into the top corner of the goal the entire country proceeded to throw beer in the air and wonder if this just might be the start of something. Only it didn't go in. It went wide. And it wasn't the start of anything. Other than the usual dire run to an early flight.
14 | ITV Hit The Beach
With the rival BBC and ITV teams locked in a pretty even punditry stalemate, ITV took a risk and performed one of the most audacious tactical moves of the tournament when they transferred the traditional sofa and suits approach to some unused decking on copacabana beach. It was a broadcasting masterstroke. Without it we may never have experienced Gordon Strachan's icy leg tan, Glenn Hoddle's budgie smugglers and Adrian Chiles in a scout outfit.
13 | Costa Rica Beat Italy
Few games encapsulated the global power shift in the group stages than Costa Rica’s win over the footballing might of Italy. Denied a blatant penalty, showing far more composure and dominating posession at times to a chorus of olés, the country with a population of 5 million gave Europe and the bookies an old-fashioned bloody nose to qualify for the knock-outs for the first-time in their history.
12 | Messi Scores Against Iran
Would he or wouldn't he? Having done nigh on nothing of note in two previous World Cups would the heir to Maradona finally turn up for this tournament on his own continent? The early signs against Nigeria were not good and the prospect of the greatest modern player in the world fluffing his lines again looked a very real prospect. Then during injury-time in a game Argentina were lucky to be drawing, he scored the kind of goal that gets replayed in 40 years time. And with him, that's how it should be. If only he had taken the group stage momentum into the knock-outs.
11 | We'll Have What Miguel's Having
If there's one cult hero of this WC, it's Mexico manager Miguel Herrera. Like a bizarre hybrid of Lionel Messi, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sandi Toksvig, the lowest paid manager of all 32 teams at the tournament provided easily the most entertainment.
10 | Algeria Rattle Germany
For a good half hour spell in their second round match-up, Algeria were all over Germany. It was as one-sided as a World Cup knock-out game can get. If the famous-for-15-minutes strikers Feghouli and Slimani had taken one of their first-half chances, it might have changed the tournament. But Manuel Neuer in a keeper/sweeper role stood strong, just, and the rest is history.
09 | Suarez Does It Again
Every World Cup needs a villain lurking in the shadows and Luis Suarez took the opportunity in pantomime-style with both fangs. If 2002 had Zidane's headbutt, then this was 2014's craziest moment. Luckily this time round, it soon became far less interesting than the football.
08 | The David Luiz Free-kick
In a tournament with very few goals from free-kicks (despite the foam), David Luiz stepped up to sidefoot a ferocious 40-yarder to put Brazil in command against Colombia. A very high high for the home side before the semi-final crash.
07 | Krul Comes On For Penalties
There’s no doubting the impact of Louis Van Gaal’s decision to bring substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul on purely for the penalty shoot-out. It clearly phased the Costa Ricans who had scored all 5 of their penalties in the previous round. Louis Van Gaal admitted he was a "tiny, bit proud" of the move. "If it hadn’t worked," he added, "it would have been my mistake.” A roundabout way of saying, "I'm a genius, aren't I?"
06 | Tim Howard’s One-man Wall
If World Cup moments were judged by how many gifs and memes they had caused then Howard’s one-man brick wall against Belgium would be hard to beat. Just as he was. If it wasn’t quite enough to stop the US from going out, at least he got a phone call from the big man to soften the blow.
05 | Phil Neville Gets The Nod
We may never know what possessed a BBC producer to blood an untried Phil Neville in the crucial co-commentary role for the biggest TV game of the tournament to that point. What we do know is that the staccato monotone and bewildered delivery which followed caused a nation to go on Twitter and attempt to most accurately describe the appalling sound and experience. The best? That he resembled "a satnav to dignitas".
04 | The James (Ham-es) Rodriguez Volley v Uruguay
Every World Cup seems to shine a light on a name that even your girlfriend knows by the end of the tournament. That Monaco had already paid Porto £40m for the 22-year old Colombian last summer hardly makes him an unknown, but this goal against Uruguay could help him win a rare double - goal of the tournament and golden boot.
03 | Mario’s Golden Goal
Having seen Higuain, Messi and Palacio spurn three great chances to score for Argentina without actually hitting the target, it was left to late sub Mario Gotze to show them how it’s done with a brilliant chest control and volleyed finish. Proof that the old commentator cliché about the importance of taking your chances is as true as ever.
02 | Van Persie Dives The Right Way
Cheeky, audacious, brilliant. The goal which helped dismantle the Spanish house of Tiki Taka once and for all. And the goal that sparked the World Cup to life and made us all wonder if this might just be the start of something. So it proved.
01 | Germany Go 4-0 Up
If you had to pin down one moment from the now legendary semi-final dismantling of Brazil, it has to be Germany's fourth goal. The previous three had instilled shock, but the fourth goal, a second for Tony Kroos scored straight from the kick-off, was a death blow and it was only then that the true scale of the unfolding disaster sunk. Cue shots of wailing fans with tears in their eyes. And there was still 61 minutes to play.
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