By: Wasil Maneka

When I say Fifa world cup, it takes you to a mildly adventurous journey to your most revered moment of it; usually a player in the midst of something truly special you have just witnessed.  Maradona with his ‘hand of God’ goal in 1986, Ronaldo with his ridiculous haircut waving his finger after beating the Germans 2002, Zidane head butting Materazzi  in 2006 etc. Truly some of the most iconic moments are linked with icons of the game that you will find on the pages of history books long after we have gone.

The Fifa World Cup 2014 began in Brazil under a cloud of uncertainty with regards to unfinished stadiums and socio economic problems surrounding the country yet amid all this cynicism there was a spirit to Brazil. One man perhaps exemplified a nations cry to overcome all the obstacles and uncertainty surrounding the country with a world cup win; Neymar. The boy from Sao Paolo was the poster boy of this Brazil team. The world cup began amid much fanfare with the Neymar showing the world just how good he was with Brazil winning comfortably in the first match against Croatia, La Seleccao had truly arrived. 

Which world cup is complete without the two of the biggest icons of the game?  The two of the best players in the world; Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Ronaldo fresh from winning the Ballon dor and champions league winning season came got pummeled by the Germans and made a silent exit from the tournament. Leo Messi in spite of winning 4 Ballon dors  curiously lives under the shadow of the great Diego Maradona, started out  the tournament by dragging the below par Argentineans through the group stages.

Group stages saw Spain with their world cup heroes from 2010 hopelessly embarrassed by a youthful and always poetic Dutch side and later on the talented Chileans. Oddly enough this wasn’t the biggest news of the group stages as the minnows from CONCACAF Costa Rica were the real story of the group stage as they defeated two former world cup winners Uruguay and Italy and eliminating another former world cup winner England packing.

The first round stages were dominated by one man and one only as little known James Rodriguez of Columbia. Another man curiously under the pecking order with his more illustrious compatriot Falcao missing delivered for us the goal of the tournament ending up with the Golden Boot with 6 goals in spite of going home after the quarter finals was a revelation at the world cup and a truly global star was born.

This world cup gave us a host of Goal keeping master classes ranging from Ochoa of Chile, Keylor Navas of Costa Rica and American Tim Howard for the record number of saves (16) in a game, however in a classically befitting world cup moment Louis Van Gaal the Dutch manager sent on the more experienced Goal keeper Tim Krul for Jasper Cillesen in the last minute of extra time against Costa Rica to save 3 out of 5 penalties to end the Costa Rican fairytale.

Semi Finals dished out the 4 of the usual suspects. It was Messi’s  Argentina against the ‘Total football’ of Van Persies Holland in the first semi final, which ultimately turned out to be a dull affair with only 3 shots on goal in the entire game and another  unlikely goal keeping hero in Romero but  more importantly a date with history for Messi to vindicate himself.

The second semi final consisted of Neymar’s Brazil and well Germany. The lack of names next to Germany isn’t due to the dearth of my knowledge of German football but because quite simply put, it would be quite disingenuous of me to put one name next to it. The combination of these incredibly and equally talented Germans meant no one player quite embarked on a mission to personal gratification or being the sole or iconic myth for glory. The Germans quite simply ravaged the sorry Brazilians without their golden boy/pin-up/Jesus?  Neymar. Germans played a brand of football so far ahead of their time that they looked extraterrestrial specie of human beings. They sent home the Brazillians crest fallen, dejected (insert all synonyms for sad) not only as a team but as a nation. 7-1 mind you is okay if you’re playing cricket on a seaming pitch in a test match in Manchester but in football terms it’s dubbed the anarchy of civilizations. Brazil were out and Neymar for all his heroics long before that.

The final at the Maracana, then pitted Messi’s Argentina and Germans. The two heavy weights collided, exchanged some blows but Argentina looked the brighter team. Messi making Hummels look like a stray dog on one of his mazy runs, the ever efficient Kroos with his 90 percent pass completion made a loose back pass for Higuain to blast wide. Germans almost looked human. Extra time and 4 minutes from time Mario Gotze won Germany their 4th world cup with a deft touch and a finish from inside the area on the volley that seemed like something bound to end up as a statue on the streets of Berlin. Humans? Not quite.

Messi returned home as the golden ball winner but still reeling and relegated to the thought of always being second best to Maradona, Neymar dejected to the thought of not delivering it on his home soil, Ronaldo banished to the thought that it may never be for him another world cup. Former English Legend Gary Lineker said ‘"Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” Simply tells you a little about Ze’ Germans as they won’t seem to care because they were the very basic form of the age old cliché of football being a team sport and its almost fitting that it won’t be the best player or icon or global star like the Zidane, Messi, or Ronaldo of this world which this world cup will be remembered by but that of the German team and a goal from a man who barely started any game in the tournament due to his equally gifted teammates; Mario Gotze with his exquisite volley. World Cup Moment.