Van Persie’s Header
Who’d have thought that the Netherlands’ 5-1 shellacking of Spain would end up as second on the bill of World Cup thrashings? It’s hard to remember in the wake of Germany’s 7 – 1 win over Brazil quite how astounding the result was. In recollecting, one could easily gloss over the lead that Spain had, and the relative ease of it, before Robin van Persie’s mesmerizing equalizer.
The ball, slung in from the left boot of Daley Blind, the momentary movement of Iker Casillas away from his goal, the swallow-dive to meet the trajectory of the cross, the loop of the header over the stranded Spaniard. The image of RVP sailing through the air passed immediately into football folklore and awakened us all to the idea that Brazil 2014 was going to be really, really good.
James Rodriguez’s Goal
A $50 million dollar footballer can hardly be described as a surprise package but James Rodriguez is about as close as they come to one. Having slipped under the radar somewhat at AS Monaco, “Ha-mes” exploded in Brazil, leading a Colombia team that sashayed through the tournament, delighting football hipsters everywhere.
Rodriguez was the fulcrum of the side, finding space where there was none and producing an array of flicks and dribbles to exploit his teammates pace on the break. He started most of the good things that Colombia did and with a tournament-leading 6 goals, finished them as well. None prettier so than the opener against Uruguay in the Round of 16. Receiving the ball on his chest, he swiveled and thrashed it in off the bar, securing himself the goal of the tournament, and arguably the best at a World Cup since Bergkamp at France ’98.
The goal that won the 2014 World Cup was one that was worthy of winning any game. 113 minutes deep into the final, with the game still scoreless, substitute Mario Götze controlled a cross on the left of the box, turned and struck a volley across Sergio Romero, consigning the Argentines to defeat and crowning Germany as Weltmeister.
The goal completed a victory that had seemed unlikely during Germany’s struggles with Ghana and Algeria, and looked certain in their domination of Brazil. In truth, this Germany side had something no other side had – a certainty in their belief that they were going to win. As Brazil mentally crumbled and Argentina choked in front of goal, Low and co kept plugging away, confident in their own ability. It took them until seven minutes from penalties but it happened, as they always knew it would.
Suarez vs. Chiellini
The story of a World Cup is rich in controversy. Schumacher’s assault on Battiston in 1982, Massing’s “tackle” on Caniggia in 1990 and Zidane’s Marseille kiss in 2006 rank highly in the pantheon of foul play, but Luis Suarez might well have surpassed the lot with his slap-up meal of Giorgio Chiellini.
Having served suspensions in Holland and England for snacking on opponents, few could have expected Luisito to have rocked out his big move again. The idea that a grown man would bite another on the football field is one thing but that he would do for a third time on the biggest stage of all is mind-boggling. But yet it happened, as clear as the teeth marks on Chiellini’s shoulder. Or on a British journalist’s Photoshop, if you believe the Uruguayan FA.
Arjen Robben is everyone’s favorite diver. He cheats with an elan that befits a top hat and a mustache twirl, using his wand of a left foot to tie a damsel to a railway line. Crucially when diving, it usually doesn’t do to tell people afterwards that you’ve been flopping like a poker dealer. You have to live the lie or risk being labeled, well, a cheat.
Arjen cares not for this. After the tie against Mexico, he came out and admitted to his thespianism, and assured the gentlemen of the press that he was going to continue doing it. Ironically enough the penalty that he eked out of Rafa Marquez to send the Dutch through was actually a foul, though it probably isn’t a fantastic plan to air such an opinion down Mexico’s way any time soon.