MOST UNFORGETTABLE MATCHES
1. Germany 7, Brazil 1.
2. Netherlands 5, Spain 1.
3. Germany 1, Argentina 0.
4. Belgium 2, United States 1.
5. Most of the group stage.
MOST DISAPPOINTING MATCH
Argentina 0, Netherlands 0 (Argentina advances to final on penalties)
1. James Rodriguez, Colombia.
2. Arjen Robben, Netherlands.
3. Lionel Messi, Argentina.
1. Diego Costa, Spain.
2. Eden Hazard, Belgium.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal.
1. Tim Cahill, Australia vs. Netherlands [video].
2. James Rodriguez, Colombia vs. Uruguay [video].
3. Mario Goetze, Germany vs. Argentina.
BEST GOAL CELEBRATIONS
Colombia’s Pablo Armero [video].
Rodriguez, 23, the Golden Boot winner with six goals and two assists in five matches.
1. Right back DeAndre Yedlin.
2. Center back John Brooks.
3. Referee Mark Geiger.
1. Tim Howard’s 16 saves in the round of 16 against Belgium, a World Cup record.
2. Miroslav Klose’s record-setting 16th career goal.
3. 16 years since a host nation (France) won the World Cup.
South America. Five of six escaped the group stage. Three of five reached the quarters. Letdown at the end, though, as Brazil imploded and Argentina fell in the final.
Asia. Four teams, no victories, three points from 12 matches.
MOST SURPRISING CONFEDERATION
CONCACAF. Costa Rica (quarterfinals), United States (round of 16) and Mexico (round of 16) advanced out of group play with five victories, one defeat and three draws. Honduras, though, lost all three.
BEST CONFEDERATION FOR GOALKEEPERS
CONCACAF, featuring Tim Howard (U.S.), Keylor Navas (Costa Rica) and Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico).
MOST DYSFUNCTIONAL TEAMS
1. Cameroon. Late arrival because of pay dispute, three losses, one goal for, nine conceded, fight between teammates on the field.
2. Ghana, one point (against Germany!), players threatened to strike over financial issues, two veterans booted from squad before crucial group finale, one player allegedly slapped a federation official.
1. United States (two group matches decided in final moments and round of 16 in extra time).
2. Costa Rica (penalty kicks in two knockout matches).
3. Belgium (late winning goals in first four matches).
WORST UNTREATED HEAD INJURIES
1. Uruguay defender Alvaro Pereira, who was knocked unconscious against England but refused to leave the game.
2. Germany’s Christoph Kramer, who took a shoulder to the head during the final, was analyzed, returned to the match, then departed 12 minutes later.
Croatia’s Niko Kovac, who, after losing to Brazil in the opener on a controversial penalty, said: “If we continue in this way, we will have a circus. If that’s a penalty, we don’t need to play football anymore. Let’s play basketball instead.”
MOST BITTER COACH
Belgium’s Marc Wilmots, who, after losing to the Argentines in the quarterfinals, called them “ordinary.”
1. Hulk (Brazil).
2. Memphis Depay (Netherlands).
3. John Boye (Ghana).
Felipão (Big Phil), Brazil Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
BEST VISITING SUPPORTERS
2. United States.
Chile, for rushing through a security checkpoint en masse without tickets to infiltrate Maracana.
BEST STADIUM SETTING
MOST DISAPPOINTING STADIUM
Recife, where street flooding prevented hundreds of fans from attending the group finale between the United States and Germany.
1. Uruguay’s Luis Suarez.
2. Colombia’s Juan Zuniga.
3. FIFA’s Sepp Blatter.
DUMBEST RED CARD
Portugal’s Pepe, for head-butting Thomas Mueller while the German was on the ground.
DUMBEST SECOND YELLOW CARD
Brazil’s Thiago Silva, for disrupting Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina’s drop kick. He was suspended for the semifinal.
Before penalty kicks against Costa Rica, Netherlands Coach Louis van Gaal inserting goalkeeper Tim Krul.
BEST HISTORICAL REFERENCES
Scolari diving into his library to pull quotes from F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edmund Burke and George Bernard Shaw to inspire his crew.
BIGGEST AXES TO GRIND
1. Neymar’s agent, Wagner Ribeiro, who called Scolari “an old jerk, arrogant, repulsive, conceited and ridiculous.”
2. Landon Donovan, a surprise omission from the U.S. squad, criticizing Jurgen Klinsmann’s tactics.
1. Marouane Fellaini (until he cut it off after Belgium was eliminated).
2. Mario Balotelli.
3. Kyle Beckerman.
1. Argentina forward Rodrigo Palacio’s rat tail.
2. Portugal midfielder Raul Meireles’ mohawk.
3. Argentine referee Nestor Pitana’s comb-over.
Mexico’s six consecutive defeats in the round of 16, the most recent coming in gut-wrenching fashion as the Dutch scored twice late.
Mick Jagger. The Rolling Stones front man became a bad luck symbol in Brazil because teams he supports typically seem to lose. It’s only the World Cup, but he likes it.
MOST UNUUSED INNOVATION
MOST USED INNOVATION
Disappearing spray for referees to mark the 10-yard buffer between a free kick spot and defensive wall.
MOST NECESSARY INNOVATION (SOMEDAY)
Teams allowed a fourth substitution in extra time, if they have already used three in regulation.
BEST MEDIA MOMENTS
Kiwis (the fruit, not the New Zealanders) the size of grapefruits at a media-center lunch buffet.
SADDEST MEDIA MOMENTS
Death of two Argentine reporters: Jorge Luis Lopez was killed in an auto accident in Sao Paulo and Maria Soledad Fernandez died in a crash while traveling between Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo.
BEST NEWSPAPER COVER
Brazil’s Metro, after the 7-1 loss to Germany.
Bora Milutinovic. After coaching five World Cup teams between 1985 and 2002, (Mexico, Costa Rica, United States, Nigeria, China) and failing in qualifying attempts with Honduras, Jamaica and Iraq, the Serbian native was in Brazil working Spanish-language radio and representing Qatar’s 2022 organizers.
BEST HOLLYWOOD DOPPELGANGERS
1. Luiz Felipe Scolari and Gene Hackman.
2. Aron Johannsson and Kevin Bacon.
3. Luis Suarez and Sharknado.
Adidas, which outfitted both finalists and manufactured the official ball, Brazuca, which has 3.5 million followers on Twitter. Nike’s attempts to deflect attention by flying in LeBron James failed.
TOP U.S. ENGLISH-LANGUAGE TV MARKET FOR THE FINAL
TOP U.S. ENGLISH-LANGUAGE TV MARKET FOR THE TOURNAMENT
1. Will Ferrell
2. Andrew Luck
3. Joe Biden
4. Kobe Bryant
5. Mike Piazza
MOST HOLY 1 v 1 MATCHUP
Pope Francis (Argentina) vs. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Germany)
BEST GOALS BY MLS PLAYERS
1. Cahill (New York Red Bulls).
2. Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders).
3. David Villa (New York City FC, coming in 2015).
BEST GOAL BY WORLD CUP PLAYER RELATED TO MLS PLAYER
Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain, brother of Columbus Crew star Federico Higuain.
BEST TEAM OVER FOUR WEEKS
BEST TEAM IN THE FINAL (BARELY)
NEXT WORLD CUP
Women’s World Cup in Canada, June 6-July 5, 2015.
NEXT MEN’S WORLD CUP
Russia, June 8-July 8, 2018.