In every World Cup, there are moments that stand the test of time, moments that leave their mark on all who watched. This was the third World Cup I can remember paying attention to. When I think back to my early soccer fandom at the 2006 tournament in Germany, I instantly think about Philipp Lahm’s screamer against Costa Rica in the opener, the Portugal-Netherlands round of 16 match with 4 red cards and 16 yellows, Maxi Rodriguez’s incredible stoppage time winner against Mexico, and of course Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt in the final. Had I been a better fan back then, the semifinal between Germany and Italy probably also would have been a standout game. The Portugal match for years was my favorite game I’d ever watched. Clearly, I didn’t know much back then.
When I think back to South Africa in 2010, the first image that comes to mind is Luis Suarez’s handball to save the quarterfinal match against Ghana. After that, I think about his teammate Diego Forlan and his free kicks, Michael Bradley’s equalizer against Slovenia, Landon Donovan’s winner against Algeria and Germany’s dismantling of England and Argentina in the knockout round. And of course I think about Spain and the brutal final against Netherlands. The images of Iker Casillas’s save against Arjen Robben, the karate kick from Nigel de Jong and Andres Iniesta’s winner will never leave me.
So now as this World Cup ends, it’s time to think about what the lasting memories will be from Brazil. When I think about this last month, a ton of images flood into my mind. I see Fred flopping in the opener, Casillas being made a fool of by Robben and Robin van Persie, John Brooks scoring the late winner for the U.S., Lionel Messi taking over against Bosnia and Iran, and of course I see Luis Suarez’s bite. And that’s just in the group stage.
In the knockout round, I think about Chile hitting the bar in the dying moments of extra-time against Brazil, Manuel Neuer playing the best game in goal I will ever see against Algeria, Wesley Sneijder tying the game against Mexico late on and James Rodriguez scoring a stunner against Uruguay. I think about Neymar getting his back broken and Tim Krul coming in to save the day in PK’s against Costa Rica. And then there was Germany 7, Brazil 1 – the most unforgettable 90 minutes many of us will ever see. Lastly, there was the bloody Bastian Schweinsteiger and the brilliantly taken Mario Götze extra-time winner in the final.
It’s hard to know which of those moments will stand out a number of years from now. But there is no doubt I’ll never forget Germany’s semifinal win over Brazil. And few will forget Suarez’s bite. In this country, we’ll probably also remember John Brooks and Julian Green, but will that be at the expense of recalling other special players in Brazil such as Costa Rican goalie Keylor Navas?
But regardless, there was plenty worth remembering from Brazil. It was a great four weeks. And now we have to wait another four years.
What will you remember from this tournament? Please comment below