The tournament was held in 12 stadiums in Brazil, with the final in Rio de Janeiro’s historic Maracana.

Host: Brazil
Teams: 32
Format: Group stage, knockouts
Matches: 64
Goals: 171
Winner: Germany
runners-up: Argentina
gold boot: James Rodriguez (Colombia)

Background

It took 64 years for the tournament to return to football’s most decorated nation.

When the biggest celebration of football arrived in Brazil, the country lived up to expectations and delivered one of the most memorable tournaments.

Bosnia and Herzegovina were the only debutants, while none of the Scandinavian countries qualified.

The tournament was held in 12 stadiums in Brazil, with the final in Rio de Janeiro’s historic Maracana.

FIFA deployed new technology to assist referees with close calls on the goal line, as well as disappearing spray to mark the spot for free kicks.

Due to hot and humid conditions in Brazil, FIFA has approved cooling breaks for players and officials. The breaks would be given after 30 minutes at the referee’s discretion.

Holders Spain suffered a shock group stage exit after a thrashing at the hands of their nemesis in the last World Cup final, the Netherlands. The Netherlands won 5-1. Spain then lost to Chile before recording a consolation victory over Australia.

In Group D, dubbed the “Group of Death”, Italy and England were knocked out as Costa Rica and Uruguay advanced. Portugal’s early exit from the tournament was also unexpected.

Host nation Brazil were among the favourites, building on the success of their latest star Neymar. They got past Colombia in the quarter-finals, but lost to Neymar for the rest of the tournament with a back injury.

Their woes were compounded when Germany thrashed them 7-1 in the semi-finals.

Argentina, led by one of the game’s greatest players, Lionel Messi, reached the final. The final saw strong defensive tactics from both sides and was pushed into extra time after no goals were scored in 90 minutes.

Mario Götze, coming on as a substitute in the last two minutes of normal time, scored a brilliant goal in the 113th minute to make Germany the first European country to win the World Cup on South American soil.

Highlights

Fans and analysts called this tournament one of the most beautiful World Cups full of goals and a festive atmosphere.

Robin van Persie scored one of the most memorable goals when he headed the Netherlands ahead in their opening game against Spain.

Lows

In the run-up to the tournament, protests were held across Brazil against the use of government funds ($11 billion) to build stadiums instead of housing, hospitals and schools.

Police used violence against demonstrators, leading to injuries and worldwide condemnation.

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in a group match. He was shown a red card and suspended for nine games by FIFA’s disciplinary committee.

The post-win celebrations in Germany came under heavy criticism at home after they mocked Argentina’s gauchos by dancing with a stooped posture.



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