The people who don’t steadfastly admit that the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has been the best ever edition of the great tournament will at least grant this: It’s the best World Cup in “recent memory.”
Or, in other words, this may not be the best World Cup ever but I can’t remember a better one.
It has been an incredible month. It’s been the event the World Cup needed, just as ridiculous claims that the Champions League was growing bigger and relegating the World Cup to a place of lesser importance.
Never has the passion, drama, and heartening value of the World Cup been higher. Now, it’s time to celebrate the best of what we saw in Brazil. World Cup 2018 can’t come soon enough.
Best Game – Brazil 1, Chile 1
This was the first game of the knockout stage, in Belo Horizonte. After a terrific group stage, there was a question of how the latter stages of the tournament would follow up the opening act.
Immediately, the pace was furious in a cauldron of ear-shattering noise and nerves in Belo. Brazil started well, and David Luiz got the opener inside twenty minutes. But as Chile grew into the game and Alexis Sanchez got the equalizer, the tension became unbearable.
Brazil’s World Cup campaign – always so emotional and so fragile – hung by a thread for the world to see.
And just as the game appeared destined for penalties, Piniella of Chile unleashed a thunderbolt of a shot that crashed off the bar. Brazil were that close to going out of the tournament. If that wasn’t cruel enough on Chile, Gonzalo Jara hit the post with the decisive fifth penalty, and Brazil survived.
It was jaw-dropping and frantic. Brazil were fun at this World Cup, even if they weren’t that good.
This was an all-time classic. Perhaps it won’t get its due because of Brazil’s spectacular end in this World Cup and Chile’s lack of star power, but this game shouldn’t be forgotten.
Honorable Mention: Netherlands 5, Spain 1; Uruguay 2, England 1; Brazil 2, Colombia 1; Germany 7, Brazil 1.
Best Underdog – Australia
The Aussies were doomed, remember? They faced a Murderer’s Row of Chile, Holland, and Spain in a Group of Death with a new manager and their worst team in a decade.
But much like the United States, Australia have a certain deranged competitive spirit and heart that make them impossible not to adore.