The 2014 football World Cup, the 20th edition, was a memorable and entertaining show. There were goals aplenty, lesser cards and so many absorbing battles. The number of goals (171) was a joint highest. There were fewer red cards (eight) than any other edition since 1986.
* History was written when Germany became the first European country to win the World Cup in the American continent. It was their fourth World Cup title and first after unification. West and East Germany reunited on October 3, 1990. The previous three World Cup wins had come to West Germany in 1954, 1974 and 1990.
* It was again Europe and South America. A team from any other region is yet to reach the final.
* As many as five of the six South American teams in Brazil made it to the second round. The exception was Ecuador.
* The adjoining CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) also did well as a record three (Costa Rica, USA and Mexico) out of their four representatives made it to the round of 16. Only Honduras perished in the group stages.
* Six European teams advanced into the round of 16, which was completed with Algeria and Nigeria coming from Africa’s five nations.
* The worst show, as anticipated, was from the biggest region. None of the four Asian representatives (South Korea, Japan, Iran and Australia) qualified from the group stages. It should be noted that Australia, formerly in the OFC (Oceania Football Confederation), has been part of the Asian Football Confederation since 2006.
The OFC itself had no qualifier this time.
* Teams achieving new heights: Costa Rica and Columbia reached the quarter-finals for the first time; Greece and Algeria made it to the knockout stage for the first time; Costa Rica were the real surprise package as they topped the group of death which featured Italy, Uruguay and England who have won a total of seven World Cups among them.
* Awards: Golden Ball (for the best player) Lionel Messi (Argentina); Golden Glove (for the best goalkeeper) Manuel Neuer (Germany); Golden Boot (for the top scorer) James Rodriguez (Columbia) with six goals; Young Player Paul Pogba (France); Fair play: Columbia (only teams reaching the knockout phase were eligible)
* Germany were the highest scoring side with 18 goals while Brazil conceded the most, 14.
* Greece were the only team to progress into the last-16 with a negative goal difference
* The holders Spain lost their opening match 1-5 to Holland. The four-goal margin is the biggest losing margin by a defending team. It is worth mentioning here that at the 2010 World Cup, Spain had conceded just two goals in seven matches.
* Brazil’s 1-7 defeat to Germany in the semi-final is the biggest losing margin for a host country. Against Brazil in the semi-final, Germany were 5-0 up faster than any other team in the World Cup history (29 minutes). The 7-1 defeat to Germany equalled Brazil’s all-time biggest margin of defeat (They lost 0-6 to Uruguay in 1920)
* There were more goals (32) scored by substitutes in this World Cup than in any previous edition.
* German striker Miroslav Klose scored two goals to take his tally to 16 in four World Cup appearances. He is now the top scorer in the World Cup history, having overtaken Brazil’s Ronaldo (15 goals).
* Mario Götze is the first substitute to score a winning goal in the World Cup final
* Tim Howard made 16 saves in the USA’s quarter-final defeat to Belgium — no goalkeeper has ever made as many saves in a single World Cup game.
* Two hat-tricks were scored: Thomas Mueller (Germany vs Portugal) and Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland vs Honduras). Shaqiri’s hat-trick was the 50th scored in the World Cup history.
* Against Japan, Colombia’s substitute goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon became the oldest player to feature in a World Cup match, at 43 years and three days.
* The ban for nine international matches imposed on Uruguayan Luis Suarez for biting the shoulder of Italian Giorgio Chiellini during their last group match was the longest such ban in World Cup history, exceeding the eight-match ban handed to Italy’s Mauro Tassotti for breaking the nose of Spain’s Luis Enrique at USA 1994.
* Two master stroke substitutions will always be recalled. In the final, Germany replaced Klose, the all-time highest scorer at the World Cup, with Mario Goetze in the 88th minute who netted the World Cup winner in extra time. In the quarter-final against Costa Rica, with the penalty shootout looming, Holland substituted their No 1 goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen with Tim Krul just 44 seconds before the final whistle. Krul became an instant hero as he saved two Costa Rican penalties to take his team to the semi-final. That was the first time in World Cup history that a goalkeeper was sent in as a substitution solely for penalty shootout. Surprisingly, Dutch coach Van Gaal didn’t apply the same tactic in the semi-final against Argentina when that match also went down to the penalty shootout; Holland lost.
* When Germany played Ghana, their defender Jerome Boating had his half-brother Kevin-Prince Boating, just as in the last World Cup, in the opposing side.