Thank You Brazil For An Incredible World Cup 2014
As we now have to wait another 4 years for England's next chance to win the World Cup (or actually get through the group stages) we are grateful for such an incredible World Cup 2014 to tide us over. Through the riots, green-painted pitches and sweltering temperatures, Brazil has been host to a dramatic, eventful and unpredictable competition. We've thoroughly enjoyed the World Cup games and our Travel Places team, who valiantly worked out in Rio, enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere.
Here are some of our #WorldCup2014 highlights from our Sussex office:
THE SHOCK EXITS: SPAIN & ENGLAND
The first shock exit was the defending champions Spain as they plummeted out of the competition in what should have been a fairly comfortable group. As the defending champions, it was one of the biggest embarrassments of the competition. Next to disappoint fans was the upsetting and quick exit of England. With expectations that they'd both be topping their groups, neither teams' fans had much to celebrate. None of the early flights home could have been enjoyable even with all of the exciting inflight entertainment.
THE SURPRISES: COSTA RICA & GREECE
Everybody loves a dark horse of which a couple stood out in this year's World Cup - Costa Rica, and Greece. Undefeated in group D, Costa Rica shocked all of its competition by qualifying top and continuing to the quarter-finals - the first time in their nation's history.
Greece also made it out of their group – another one for the history books. After their first game which was a 3-0 defeat, they completely turned it around and even proved tough competition against Costa Rica in Round 16.
England unfortunately tried to sail through the group stages; however both of our top surprises prepared for mud, sweat and tears for which they were rewarded.
THE SILKY SKILLS: NEYMAR & MESSI
The superstars of this World Cup quite obviously included Brazil's 'poster boy' Neymar and Argentina's Messi.
The phenomenal pressure on Neymar's 22 year-old shoulders came not only from his team mates, coach and fans, but most of the world as he starred in many dream teams. He lived up to the hype in his first 4 games, however was taken out by Colombia's Zuniga during the quarter-final stage. The damage to his vertebra put him out for the rest of the competition, a big loss to Brazil and a big loss to the World Cup.
Messi, who has been dubbed as a football deity and the next Maradona, had a lot to live up to. With a focus on defence by the opposition, he had less contact with the ball than he's used to, yet made some fantastic opportunities and scored 4 himself. A history making opportunity was handed to him in the World Cup final with a last minute free-kick. However, the pressure assisted his wild strike which sent the ball and Argentina's hopes over the cross bar.
THE INCREDIBLE GOALKEEPING: TIM HOWARD, GUILLERMO OCHOA & MANUEL NEUER
The competition has, this year, seen some fantastic goalkeeping talent. Particularly worthy of a mention are Tim Howard (USA), Guillermo Ochoa (MEX) and Manuel Neuer (GER), who found themselves in front of the ball many times. Their instincts were faultless with ninja like reactions. Tim Howard deservedly became a U.S. hero after blocking a record of 16 shots in their game against Belgium – even Obama sent his congratulations.
After the German win, Manuel Neuer deserves the class of #1 goalkeeper. His passion throughout the competition was outstanding and he played a significant role in the team's success. His most memorable moment was his furious reaction to the 1 goal Brazil scored in their 7-1 defeat – perhaps the most pointless goal of the competition.
THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL MOMENT: #SUAREZNIBBLE
Regardless of having a history of nibbling other players, we did NOT expect Suarez to bite again on football's world stage. The fateful day was 24th of June against Italy and the recipient was Cannelloni, we mean Chiellini. Although Suarez escaped punishment on the pitch, he has now paid a substantial fine and begun a hefty ban. Regardless of the bad press and hilarious memes around the incident, Barcelona has still paid £75 million for Suarez to join their team.
THE MOST STUNNING GOALS: VAN PERSIE, TIM CAHILL & DAVID LUIZ
Van Persie's diving header to score against Spain was a thing of beauty and epic timing, becoming an immediate contender for best goal of the competition. Combined with the greatest high five celebration with his manager, it instantly became the office favourite.
Tim Cahill's volley was hit perfectly into the Netherlands' goal. The accuracy was phenomenal, yet sadly the thundering strike was overshadowed by a 3-2 defeat.
David Luiz's stunning free-kick against Columbia glided into the top right corner with absolute accuracy. The Colombian defence had no chance to stop it as the ball flew with purpose to put Brazil into the semi-finals - it's just a shame that Luiz didn't find any of this magic against Germany in the semi-finals.
THE MOST SHOCKING RESULT EVER
Not only the most shocking result of this competition, but the most shocking result in the entire World Cup history – Brazil (1) v Germany (7). As spectators it was shocking, and as a Brazilian team member it was humiliating. A combination of the huge pressure on the Brazilian team playing for a country riddled with riots and missing both superstar and captain (Neymar and Silva) contributed to the defeat. Although the German team shouldn't be undervalued as their challenges, energy and passion were fantastic, the Brazilians were certainly not themselves.
THE WORLD CUP FINAL
As a team who didn't lose in this World Cup, Germany was the deserved winner. Another young player and substitute, Mario Götze, will be remembered as the hero of the final by scoring the only goal of the game 7 minutes before the end of extra time. Although most spectators love the tension and drama of penalties, it was a stunning finish to an epic competition. Even though it couldn't be an English win, we're still happy it was a European one!
Now for a break from the referees' vanishing spray, the revolutionary goal-line technology and excitement of filling in our official wall chart, as the wait begins for Russia 2018.