World Cup 2014

The Real Winners and Losers

The last pass has been kicked, the last goal has been scored, and the trophy has been awarded to the victor, Germany. We know who won the matches, who won the awards, and who won the Cup. But who were the people, on and off the field, that had a World Cup to remember…or a World Cup to forget?

VOA breaks down the real winners and losers of the 2014 World Cup:

Winner: Adidas

There was a lot of talk this World Cup – including on this blog – about Nike’s move into the world of soccer traditionally dominated by Adidas. Well, after all the matches, not only where both finalists Germany and Argentina sponsored by Adidas, but so are Golden Ball winner Lionel Messi of Argentina, Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez of Colombia, and Golden Glove winner Manuel Neuer of Germany. Even the game ball was made by Adidas. Nike may have made some inroads at the Cup this year, but clearly, Adidas still has its hold on the World Cup.

Illustrations by Steve Fuchs

Winner: The Meme Makers

There were no shortage of memorable moments in this year’s World Cup, from van Persie’s header to Tim Howard’s saves, and from Robben’s dive to Suarez’s bite. No matter what the event, within minutes, the hive mind of the Internet created memes shared around the world, from the “Flying Dutchman” van Persie gliding over Rio, to Suarez in a mask a la Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs.

Winner: The Lucky Betters

Brazil certainly didn’t expect to get blown out 7-1 in their semifinal match against Germany. But a few faithful fans did, and as a result, were handsomely rewarded. One man in London bet £5 on Germany winning the match 7-1 after having a “premonition” the day before the match; sure enough, he was right. The winnings from his lucky bet? £2,500. But that wasn’t even the biggest payoff: one lucky Dutchman put down a €200 bet on Germany winning 7-1, and won € 1.3 million. Perhaps the best part is that he didn’t even mean to place the bet – as the man told German newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, the bet “was made during a too alcoholic party.”

Winner: VOA’s World Cup Correspondent Nicolas Pinault

The video says it all.

Loser: Brazil’s Poor

Many already considered Brazil’s poor to be the biggest losers from this World Cup, with billions that could have been spent on infrastructure and public services going towards stadiums and hotels. After Brazil lost in the semifinals, these feelings must have been even stronger: not only did the country spend all of that public money, but they couldn’t even win the championship that everyone expected they would. When Brazil couldn’t even muster a third place finish, it’s likely those feelings only grew stronger.

Loser: The Sacked Coaches

When a team wins, everyone takes credit – players, trainers, fans, and even sponsors. But when a team loses, the blame usually falls on the shoulders of one specific person: the coach. And that means that after a loss, it’s not just the team that’s out – it mean the coach is out as well. After their teams’ early exits, Italy’s Cesare Prandelli, Nigeria’s Stephen Keshi, and Ivory Coast’s Sabri Lamouchi resigned from their positions. At least they had the dignity of resigning: after Brazil’s humiliation in both the semifinals and the third place match, the country’s football confederation fired coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Winner & Loser: Luis Suarez

Obviously Luis Suarez comes out of the World Cup as a loser after his infamous bite earned him a four-month suspension from FIFA and the ire of fans around the world. But is he a winner as well? A couple of week removed from the incident, though, and Suarez is moving on in a big way: Suarez apparently used the publicity from the bite incident as leverage to leave Liverpool for Barcelona, saying that “playing and living in Spain, where my wife’s family live, is a lifelong dream and ambition.” Maybe the bite worked out for the best after all.

Loser: Small Sporting Companies

With Adidas as one of our winners, one would assume that Nike would be a World Cup loser. But it’s not Nike that’s the loser, or for that matter Puma (the other major World Cup team sponsor). No, the losers here are the small sporting companies. Of the 32 teams in the Cup this year, only five were sponsored by companies other than Nike, Adidas, or Puma: Belgium, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, and Iran. And small companies that were sponsoring teams are being abandoned for the so-called “big three” – Le Coq Sportif, which sponsored the French national team for years, was dropped in favor of Nike;

Winner & Loser: Axelle Despiegelaere

You may not know her name, but if you’ve been watching the World Cup, you may have seen her face. Axelle Despiegelaere was cheering on Team Belgium in their match against Russia when a photographer caught her face in the crowd. Within hours, her image had gone viral, and within days, she had been offered a modeling contract from L’Oreal. But less than a week later, her contract was cancelled after photos emerged of her hunting wild game in Africa. It just goes to show that not all the winners and losers of the World Cup were on the field – some were in the stands as well.

Germany (1-0) Argentina

Finally, For the Third Time (UPDATE: Germany Takes the Cup)


Team Argentina.
Team Germany.

UPDATE: Germany’s Mario Goetze scored a goal late in extra time to give Germany a 1-0 lead, and, about ten minutes later, the 2014 World Cup. VOA’s Mike Richman has a breakdown of the game here.

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In 1986, the upstart captain of Argentina’s World Cup team by the name of Diego Maradona led his squad to the World Cup finals. Their opponent? West Germany. Nearly 115,000 packed Estadio Azteca in Mexico City to watch the back-and-forth match: Argentina’s 2-0 was equalized by two German goals within seven minutes, but they regained the lead in the 84th minute of play – and won the championship, 3-2.

Four years later, looking to avenge their loss, West Germany would find themselves back in the final, at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico. Their opponent? Their foe from 1986′s final: Argentina. After 85 tense and scoreless minutes, a penalty kick by Germany would connect with the back of the net, giving Germany a 1-0 lead, and, just minutes later, the championship.

Since that last meeting in the final 24 years ago, neither team has won a World Cup.

That changes today.

A win for Argentina would mean much more than their third World Cup. It would mean a first World Cup for captain Lionel Messi, who, it seems, has won everything but. And it would mean a Cup won not only on South American soil, but in the home stadium of Brazil, one of their biggest rivals.

A win for Germany would not only make them four-time World Cup champions. A win would end a spate of near-misses in the semifinals and finals stretching back to 2002. And it would also give the country its first win since reunification in 1990.

Who will make history: Die Mannschaft or La Albiceleste? Muller or Messi? Germany or Argentina?

It all begins at 3 PM ET (7 PM UTC).

For play-by-play, minute-by-minute coverage of every ball touch, throw-in, direct kick, indirect kick, yellow card, red card, corner kick, goal kick and every other possible football feat in every World Cup match, tap into VOA’s multilingual, multinational analysis.

Click here to follow the action live, or follow along on Facebook, or on Twitter with #WorldCupVOA.

And for even more exclusive VOA coverage with a special focus on Africa’s national teams, check out VOA’s Francophone blog.

German Precision

How to Beat Brazil in 7 Goals

Animated GIF showing how Germany scored 7 goals against Brazil in the 2014 World Cup match.

Here’s how Germany scored
seven goals against Brazil.

10′ – Goal scored by Müller

Brazil 0 - 1 Germany

22′ – Goal scored by Klose

Brazil 0 - 2 Germany

23′ – Goal scored by Kroos

Brazil 0 - 3 Germany

25′ – Goal scored by Kroos

Brazil 0 - 4 Germany

28′ – Goal scored by Khedira

Brazil 0 - 5 Germany

68′ – Goal scored by Schürrle

Brazil 0 - 6 Germany

78′ – Goal scored by Schürrle

Brazil 0 - 7 Germany

Click here to see the match statistics and see a play-by-play recap of the Brazil vs. Germany match.

You Have Got To Be Kidding Me

Germany 7, Brazil 1. ‘Nuff Said

Brazil's Luiz Gustavo (l) and Germany's Sami Khedira, go for the ball during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Brazil and Germany at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, July 8, 2014.

Football is conducive to superlatives: the greatest, the fastest, the most amazing, the most beautiful, the most watched, the most played.

How about the most agonizing? Most stunning? Most breathtaking, jaw-dropping, tongue-swallowing, humiliating?

Decades from now, historians of Jogo Bonito will turn back the pages and recall, heads shaking, what transpired on July 8, 2014, in the country that gave the world Pele and Ronaldinho and Neymar.

It was a moment unlike any other in the history of modern football. (not sure about ancient football, if there was such a thing). A nation hosting the world’s premier sporting event, hundreds of millions of its citizens harnessing their passions and channeling them to drive their team to claim The Trophy, The Championship, to bring The Glorious Laurels of Victory home after a dozen years of wandering in the wilderness.

For Brazil, losing by one goal, in the semifinal match of the tournament it was hosting, would have been emotional. Two goals, heart-wrenching. Three goals, inexplicable. Six goals?

Seven goals to one goal is an unspeakable result in football at any levels. It’s the kind of result that has elementary school coaches calling for a mercy rule.

Against Brazil? Germany scored more goals against Brazil than any other team in a World Cup match. Ever.

As good as Germany’s performance was, it was amplified many times over by how bad Brazil’s performance was.

In their quarterfinal match-up with Colombia, Brazil passed, shot, scored, headed and moved the ball like a pinball, in a relentless pace that gave full stage to the fitness and talent and skill of both teams. (As well as the brutal nature that such a game can play). Brazil was not invincible, as shown by Colombia’s tenacity, but it was still a superior side.

On Tuesday, Brazil stood, watched, hobbled, walked and choked as the Germans trampled them. Mueller, Klose, Koons, Kheidira, Schuerrle: their scoring prowess was unanswered, undefended, unstoppable. Klose now tops the tables of the most goals scored in the World Cup over all his tournament appearances.

The easy explanations are… well… easy. Brazil’s fleet-footed, walk-on-water striker Neymar was injured, nursing a broken verterbrae, an injury that could nearly end his career forever. Brazil’s captain, Thiago Silva, missed the match after getting multiple yellow cards. The team was psychologically damaged by their absence.

But really? Is an entire professional football squad so fragile and un-resilient that the loss of one or two formidable players results in complete collapse? This might be a question for the national coach: Luiz Scolari. If you don’t build a squad with depth and breadth, along with flash and sizzle and artistry and stamina, then you’ve failed as a manager.

Seven goals was the most ever scored in a World Cup semifinal. It was not the most scored in a World Cup match (that honor, according to FIFA, belongs to Hungary, which defeated El Salvador in 1982, 10-1). It was not even the largest differential in a World Cup match (that, according to FIFA, belongs to Hungary, twice, and Yugoslavia back when there was such a country when nine goals separated the victors from the losers).

But arguably, never before, have two football powerhouse, two giants in the sweep and the span of the game, met on the field of competition with one, ultimately, being so utterly tormented, driven to its knees, embarrassed. On its home turf, no less.

Tuesday is a day to remember. Or maybe, to borrow a literary reference from another time, another place, another event in history, A Night To Remember.











Football's Final Four

What’s At Stake

After nearly a month of non-stop soccer, the 2014 World Cup championships are in sight. Four teams in particular have their eyes on the prize: Argentina, Brazil, Germany, and the Netherlands – the last four teams left.

Obviously, all four are playing to win. But what’s their motivation? What are the specific elements that are pushing them towards a win?

Brazil: Win for Their Country

Brazil seeks to win its sixth title on home turf.
Brazil is the most successful country in World Cup history, winning five titles since 1958. But perhaps the most memorable Cup for Brazilians is one they didn’t win – in 1950, when Brazil last hosted the World Cup, the home team lost to rival (and neighbor) Uruguay by 2-1. Over 60 years later, the Cup is back on Brazilian soil – and Brazil is hoping it can win the title on home turf.

Germany: Close it Out

Germany: always the World Cup bridesmaid.
The last three World Cups have not been kind to Germany. In 2002, they were the runner-up to Brazil. In 2006 and 2010, they came in third place, losing to eventual champions Italy and Spain (respectively) in the semi-finals. This year, Germany is hoping to break that streak, and break the conception that they’re always a World Cup bridesmaid, never a World Cup bride.

Argentina: Do It for Messi

Messi hopes to win his first World Cup.
Lionel Messi is arguably the most popular and successful soccer player in the world today. But with all of the titles, the awards, the praise, there’s one prize that’s alluded him: a World Cup title. A contender for the Golden Boot award, given to the player who scores the most goals, Messi’s surely hoping to score not only the award, but a title for Argentina.

Netherlands: Avenge their Loss

Netherlands hopes to avenge their 2010 loss against Spain.
The Dutch came within one match of winning the 2010 World Cup, falling to Spain in the final 1-0. But with the defending champions knocked out in the group stage of this year’s Cup, the Dutch are hoping that they can avenge their loss and finish the job they couldn’t four years ago.