World Cup 2014's 5 Best Knockout Matches
The 2014 FIFA World Cup has come and gone, with Germany being crowned champions for the fourth time. This was the highest-scoring tournament since France 1998, per the BBC's Phil McNulty. As a result, we've had some terrific matches on display.
There were three all-South American matches in the round of 16 and quarter-finals combined, which produced some excellent football. European teams made a decent showing, with Germany winning the tournament and the Netherlands claiming third place.
As always, there was tons of controversy, but there were fewer bookings and red cards in total in 2014 compared to 2010. That allowed a lot of freedom in the games, but as seen in this slideshow, sometimes there were too many fouls.
This World Cup will be remembered for many other reasons as well. Here are the top five matches from the knockout stage that should be etched in the minds of every fan.
Colombia 2-0 Uruguay (Round of 16)
One of the three all-South American match-ups produced some quality moments that we'll never forget, such as James Rodriguez's half-volley to open the scoring.
However, Uruguay failed to produce anything noteworthy in the first half. As a result, they fell behind 2-0 by the 50th minute and were shut down the rest of the way, making for a somewhat lackluster ending to the match.
Brazil 1-7 Germany (Semi-Final)
It's a game that no one will forget.
Brazil equaled their largest margin of defeat; it was the biggest loss in the national team's history since 1920 and the most lopsided World Cup semi-final ever, per Eurosport's Marcus Foley.
It may not have been the nail-biting thriller that fans were expecting, but the match itself can't be ignored. It was the most tweeted about event in history, and all eyes were on this massacre. It's arguably the most significant World Cup match ever just for the scoreline and the ease with which Germany won.
5. Germany 2-1 Algeria (Round of 16)
This match was Germany's toughest, which was surprising since many considered Algeria to be their weakest opponent. However, they were the only team to force extra time against the Germans before the final.
The game itself was brilliant also. Manuel Neuer operating as a sweeper keeper against Algeria's swift counter-attacks was the main highlight. The Bayern Munich shot-stopper has his manager to thank for that.
According to FIFA.com, there was 75 dangerous attacks, 40 attempts on goal and over 1,000 passes completed between the two sides.
The majority of them favoured the winners due to Algeria slowing down in extra time. Nonetheless, the North Africans added a lot of entertainment value in the game and nearly pulled off a massive upset.
4. Belgium 2-1 U.S.A. (Round of 16)
It wasn't the prettiest of matches for the first 90 minutes between Belgium and the USMNT, but the remaining 30 made up for it.
Belgium swarmed the U.S. goal throughout the match, with Tim Howard making a record-breaking 16 saves. Chris Wondolowski could have clinched the victory for the Americans, but he blasted a sitter over the bar.
Extra time was the most nerve-wracking time frame as Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku seemingly sealed the Red Devils spot in the quarter-final. That's when Julian Green gave the U.S. some life with 13 minutes left.
However, it was all for naught as Belgium hung on for the victory. It was a disappointment for the U.S., but it was the day when everyone stopped taking them for granted after a thrilling match.
3. Brazil 2-1 Colombia (Quarter-Final)
Despite the 54 fouls combined between Brazil and Colombia, per FIFA.com, the South American sides put on a fine display that Friday night. Captain Thiago Silva opened the scoring after just seven minutes, but Los Cafeteros didn't hold back, executing 11 shots from 39 dangerous attacks.
Colombia had a few legitimate calls go against them as well. Mario Yepes thought he had scored the tying goal, but it was negated due to a controversial offside call. David Luiz doubled the lead via a sizzling free-kick shortly thereafter. James Rodriguez, who was taking a beating for most of the game, cut the advantage in half, but it was too late.
Between the controversy, atmosphere, Neymar's tournament-ending injury and the game itself, there was no shortage of entertainment in this quarter-final.
2. Netherlands 2-1 Mexico (Round of 16)
Mexico was one of the surprise teams at the World Cup, thanks in large part to the enthusiastic Miguel Herrera. However, El Tri were entertaining on the pitch while still conceding just two goals in their four matches.
It showed against the Netherlands as well. The Dutch had a 55 percent possession and a slight edge in shots, per FIFA.com, but Mexico kept them at bay and still troubled the Oranje backline. Had it not been for two late blunders, they might have made it to the quarter-finals.
Wesley Sneijder delayed those plans with his strike in stoppage time. Just moments later, Arjen Robben was tripped by Rafael Marquez. Then referee Pedro Proenca awarded the Dutch a penalty, which Mexico claimed was nonexistent. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar converted the spot-kick, putting the exclamation mark on what was a great match.
It was the perfect combination of tactical discipline, controversy and end-to-end action.
1. Brazil 1-1 (3-2) Chile (Round of 16)
This was the match that truly had it all. It was played at a high tempo and had drama, an electric atmosphere and the stress of a penalty shootout.
Brazil and Chile were tied 1-1 after extra time. David Luiz gave the hosts the lead, but Alexis Sanchez brought La Roja back level just past the half-hour mark. They went back and forth exchanging chances, with Mauricio Pinilla striking the crossbar just before the 120th minute.
Then the penalty shootout came. Luiz converted the first attempt, but then Pinilla, Willian and Sanchez missed the next three. After Marcelo and Charles Aranguiz made theirs, Claudio Bravo stopped Hulk's spot-kick. Then at 3-2, Gonzalo Jara's shot was off-target, giving Brazil the narrow victory.
It was a heartbreaking end for the Chileans, but they proved their worth in the 2014 World Cup. It's fitting that they also took part in arguably the best match of the tournament as well.
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