It's hard to imagine that the end is here. After a month of brilliant games, heroic performances and moments we'll never forget, Argentina will face Germany in the final at the 2014 World Cup.
But before we can get to "Messi vs. The Machine," there was the little matter of seeing off the proceedings with the closing ceremony. And in true Brazilian fashion, it was colorful, lively and full of song and dance.
The ceremony opened with a tribute to all 32 countries that participated in this year's tournament, with women in gigantic dresses and men with various flags painted on their faces sauntering around the pitch.
That led to a tribute in the center stage for the FIFA World Cup Trophy, with two men each wearing a kit of the finalists putting on quite the impressive dribbling display. Without question, that was the coolest moment of the ceremony.
After that the ceremony concluded with a concert put on by various musical acts. FIFA.com previewed that concert before the closing ceremony began:
The Brazil 2014 closing ceremony will conclude with a spectacular combination of music: Shakira and Carlinhos Brown perform “Dare”; Alexandre Pires, Carlos Santana and Wyclef Jean provide a rendition of the World Cup official anthem, “We Will Find A Way”; plus, a medley of Brazilian songs courtesy of Pires and Ivete Sangalo.
As you might have guessed, most of the buzz around the closing ceremony followed the musical performances. Live Football gets us started with a few Vines of Shakira:
Hips don't lie! http://t.co/mdCZjxvy2v— LiveFootball (@livefootball) July 13, 2014
No, they certainly don't lie.
Jack Lang of the Mirror certainly preferred Shakira to Jennifer Lopez:
Shakira beats J-Lo simply on the basis that she looks vaguely happy to be here.— Jack Lang (@snap_kaka_pop) July 13, 2014
And Jonathan Wilson of The Blizzard was impressed by Shakira's consistency in showing up for World Cup finals:
Shakira equals Cafu's record of three World Cup final appearances. And now some other noise.— Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils) July 13, 2014
The entire ordeal was certainly quite the spectacle. Bleacher Report UK provided the following view from above the famous Maracana:
Santana was also on hand, as NDTV Sports captured:
Of course, the real party will be the game itself, even if Brazil isn't in the final. But before we get to that, let's take a look at a few more images of the closing ceremony.
All that's left to do now is to contest the final.
Lionel Messi will look to cement his legend as one of the game's all-time greats against a Germany side that has looked the strongest squad at this tournament. That's been the storyline heading into the game—the world's best player against the best team.
It's hard to top that. And it will be hard to top this World Cup in four years. One thing is for certain—no one will ever forget Brazil 2014. This was a World Cup for the ages.