BRASILIA (Reuters) - The A-Z of the 2014
World Cup in Brazil.
A - Abysmal Asia.
The continent's four teams failed to grab a win in Brazil, the first
time Asia has gone without a victory at a World Cup since 1990 when
United Arab Emirates and South Korea each lost all three group
games. Australia, Korea, Japan and Iran managed only three draws
between them and all finished bottom of their respective groups.
B - Bite.
Uruguay forward Luis Suarez was slapped with a World Cup record four
month ban from soccer and suspended for nine international matches
after sinking his teeth into the shoulder of Italy's Giorgio
Chiellini. Suarez initially denied the bite, before backtracking and
apologizing after FIFA's punishment.
The fallout made it one of the most talked about incidents in
Brazil, with everyone from pundits to presidents offering their
C - Cash.
Ghana's players wanted their appearance fees for playing in the
World Cup right away so President John Mahama flew millions of
dollars to Brasilia in order to appease the squad hours before their
make-or-break clash with Portugal. Pictured kissing the stacks of
cash upon its arrival, Ghana's players lost to the Portuguese and
exited at the group stage.
D - Dilma.
The on-field action in Brazil was amongst the best ever but the
problems surrounding the organization of the tournament were not
forgotten. Brazil President Dilma Rousseff, along with FIFA boss
Sepp Blatter, were routinely booed when shown in the crowd at
matches, with many Brazilians angered by their government's
extravagant World Cup spending of more than $11 billion at a time
when the country's economy is sagging and public services are in
dire need of investment.
E - Embarrassment.
A World Cup record defeat, a first loss in a competitive home match
in 39 years, it was not meant to end like this for pre-tournament
favorites Brazil. The 7-1 semi-final mauling suffered in Belo
Horizonte at the hands of Germany plunged a nation into mourning and
quickly led to calls for an overhaul of the domestic game.
F - Fans.
The empty stadiums of the South African World Cup four years ago
were never going to be repeated with fans flocking from all over the
world to watch the action in Brazil.
The majority seemed to come from Argentina, Chile and Colombia.
Brazilians also turned out en masse to grab a glimpse of any of the
32 competitors making the 2014 tournament the second most popular in
history based on average attendances.
G - Goals, goals and goals.
The group stages were full of them. The knockout stages less so but
still the attacking mindset of the 32 teams resulted in 167 goals
prior to the final two matches. Four short of the record 171 scored
in France in 1998.
H - Hands of Howard.
United States goalkeeper Tim Howard made a World Cup record 16 saves
in their last-16 clash with Belgium. It was not enough, though, as
Belgium prevailed 2-1 in extra time.
I - Invasions.
Fans managed to escape security and run on to the pitch in the group
match between Germany and Ghana and the last-16 clash involving the
United States and Belgium, while an estimated 200 Chilean fans burst
into the media center at the Maracana Stadium before their win over
J - James Rodriguez.
The baby-faced Colombian attacker made himself a household name all
over the world after his brilliant displays and six goals in their
run to a first quarter-final appearance. A mazy run and dinked
effort against Japan was bettered by a sensational chest, swivel and
volley from 25 meters in the last- 16 win over Uruguay.
K - Klose.
The aging Miroslav Klose scored his 16th World Cup goal to surpass
former Brazil striker Ronaldo's record of 15. The German striker,
who drew level with Ronaldo with an effort against Ghana in group
play, took the record by scoring the second in the 7-1 thrashing of
Brazil in the semi-final.
L - Lotto
The relatively small Italian kit maker managed to muscle out some of
the major brands in Brazil thanks to Costa Rica's unlikely run to a
Sales of the Ticos' shirt rose 20-fold after they topped Group D by
beating Uruguay and Italy and then edging Greece on penalties in the
M - Memes.
Social media and the World Cup were as intertwined like never
before. After Arjen Robben's theatrics led to a late penalty against
Mexico in the round of 16, fans posted various memes of the Dutch
winger lifting an Oscar for Best Actor, competing in Olympic diving,
and plunging arms-flailing off the cliffs of Acapulco. Uruguay
striker Suarez also received the same treatment after his bite, with
pictures posted depicting him wearing a dog-cone round his neck, a
Dracula outfit, or a Hannibal Lecter mask.
N - Neymar.
It was all going so well for the Brazilian number 10 who delivered
four goals in four games under the huge weight of expectation from a
nation demanding a sixth World Cup win and first on home soil. But
his tournament ended at the last-eight stage when he suffered a
cracked vertebra after a heavy challenge against the Colombians. His
injury led to his team mates wearing 'Forza Neymar' caps before the
semi-final with defender David Luiz holding aloft the striker's
number 10 shirt before kick off. It did them no good, though, as
Germany smashed them 7-1.
Colombian goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon became the oldest player to
take part in a World Cup when the 43-year-old came off the bench in
the South Americans' 4-1 win over Japan in Group C.
P - Penalties
A record-equaling four matches were settled by penalties in Brazil
with Costa Rican enjoying the ecstasy of winning a shootout against
Greece to make a first quarter-final only to lose to the Dutch the
same way. Keylor Navas was arguably the goalkeeper of the tournament
for Costa Rica but he could not match the two saves by Dutch
shootout specialist, Tim Krul, who came on specifically for the
spot-kicks as the Europeans advanced.
Q - Queen kiss
Mario Balotelli, whose goal helped Italy beat England, said he would
aid out his beaten foe by delivering a victory against Costa Rica in
their next match. All the striker wanted in a return was a kiss from
the British monarch for his efforts.
Unfortunately, the former Manchester City striker failed to keep up
his end of the bargain as Italy lost the match and England were
R - Recife rain
Torrential rain in the north-eastern Brazilian city led to talk of
the Group G decider between the U.S. and Germany being postponed.
Long tailbacks were seen on roads leading to the Pernambuco arena on
the outskirts of the city with fans wading through waste-deep water
to watch the game which Germany won.
Pre-match warm-ups for both teams were disrupted because of concerns
about the pitch, with players forced to sprint and stretch behind
the goal-lines in order to preserve the surface.
S - Spain.
They arrived in Brazil with ambitions of successfully defending the
title they won four years ago and winning a fourth consecutive major
championship, but exited the World Cup embarrassingly early
following a 5-1 defeat by the Dutch and a 2-0 loss to Chile in their
T - Technology.
Goal-line technology made its World Cup debut with France the first
team to be indebted to it when Honduran goalkeeper Noel Valladares
knocked a rebound from the crossbar over the line before scrambling
it clear. Once upon a time Valladares would have got away with it
but thanks to German company GoalControl that will no longer be the
U - Under arrest.
A Rio court approved the detention of a chief executive of a Swiss
hospitality company and 10 other suspects, who are believed to have
run a scalping ring for World Cup tickets originally allocated to
soccer federations and other VIPs.
Ray Whelan, of MATCH Services, was briefly arrested earlier in the
week and released pending a court order. MATCH, which has denied any
wrong doing, is the main provider of hospitality packages for the
World Cup and paid $240 million for the exclusive rights to sell
corporate hospitality at the 2010 World Cup and this one.
V - Vanishing spray.
Another World Cup debutant in Brazil. Referees have been reaching
for their canister to spray the white foam on the ground around the
ball at a free kick and also 10 yards - or 9.15 meters - away to
ensure no defenders encroach.
W - Water breaks.
Searing temperatures and mid-day kick-offs caused players t wilt in
the heat and FIFA approving the first water break. It came after 30
minutes in the Netherlands' 2-1 win over Mexico in the Last 16 in
X - Xherdan Shaqiri.
Dubbed the 'Alpine Messi' in some quarters, the Swiss midfielder
scored a hat-trick in the Group E win over Honduras. It was the 50th
treble in World Cup history and the second of the tournament after
Thomas Mueller's trio for Germany in their 4-0 opening win over
Y - Yuichi Nishimura.
The Japanese referee was at the center of the first officiating
controversy of the World Cup when he awarded hosts Brazil a penalty
in their Group A clash with Croatia. The match was level at 1-1 when
Fred hit the turf theatrically with Nishimura pointing straight to
the spot and leaving Croatia coach Nico Kovac fuming.
Z - Zuniga.
Colombian defender Juan Zuniga became public enemy number one in
Brazil when he carelessly thrusted his knee into the back of the
hosts' talisman Neymar, who suffered a cracked vertebra and was
ruled out of the World Cup.