Feature: Best and Worst of 2014 World Cup
Copa das Copas?: Undoubtedly. This World Cup had it all from thrilling football and seismic shocks, to conspiracy and controversy.
Best player: Arjen Robben (Holland). Was scintillating in just about every match. Honourable mentions for Toni Kroos (German), James Rodriguez (Colombia), Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Thomas Muller (Germany).
Best match: Brazil 1 Germany 7. It was not much of a contest, but anyone privileged enough to be there witnessed an historic moment in football. They will still talk about this game in the year 3014.
Best goal: Tim Cahill’s left-footed volley that crashed in off the crossbar for Australia v Holland, after Ryan McGowan had sent a high, curling long ball in from the right-flank. Runner-up: James Rodriguez for Colombia v Uruguay, chesting the ball down and then, on the turn, volleying in off the bar.
Biggest disappointments: England and Brazil get to share the booby prize.
Biggest upsets: Spain 1 Holland 5. Uruguay 1 Costa Rica 3. The opening matches of their groups set the tournament alight.
Team of the tournament: Keylor Navas (Costa Rica), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Stefan de Vrij (Holland), Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina), Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Toni Kroos (Germany), Arjen Robben (Holland), James Rodriguez (Colombia), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Alexis Sanchez (Chile), Thomas Muller (Germany).
Tournament to forget XI: Casillas (Spain); Pepe (Portugal), David Luiz (Brazil), Phil Jagielka (England), Gonzalo Jara (Chile), Alex Song (Cameroon), Steven Gerrard (England), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Shinji Kagawa (Japan), Eden Hazard (Belgium), Fred (Brazil).
Biggest villain: No surprises here: Luis Suarez.
Best refereeing performances: Howard Webb, from England, (Brazil v Chile) including a great spot of Hulk’s handball; Ravshan Irmatov, from Uzbekistan, (Germany v USA) – dozens of incidents and offsides, all correctly judged; Nicola Rizzoli – the Italian was excellent during the 90 minutes of the final, but could easily have sent off Sergio Aguero for a flailing arm in the face of Bastian Schweinsteiger during an aerial challenge.
Worst refereeing performance: No contest: Carlos Carballo, from Spain, for Brazil v Colombia. Allowed 40 fouls before he showed the first yellow card.
Best stadium: Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte. A proper football stadium where you feel incredibly close to the pitch.
Worst stadium: Sao Paulo. Unfinished and unattractive, including a giant temporary stand and stuck out miles away from the city centre.
Best song: “Brasil decime que se siente” (Brazil, how does it feel) to the tune of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Rising – Argentina fans taunting the hosts, who have swiftly turned the tables by changing the words following the final defeat.
Best Ronnie Biggs impression: Ray Whelan, the English director of FIFA’s ticket partner MATCH, who disappeared from his hotel minutes before Brazilian police arrived to re-arrest.
Best of Brazil: The universally-friendly people, and unexpected efficiency of air travel within the country and the Metro trains.
Worst of Brazil: Abject poverty existing side by side with overt opulence.
Personal highlight: Being press-ganged into playing for a Russia 2018 staff team against a FIFA staff team including Brazil’s two-times World Cup winner Cafu and former New Zealand women’s World Cup midfielder Cilla Duncan. Final score at the old Fluminense stadium: 1-1.