Just when the Opening Ceremony couldn’t get any more underwhelming, J-Lo and Pitbull join Brazilian star Claudia Leitte onstage for a song. It’s strange having to get used to awful ceremonies after London 2012.
Posterboy Neymar gets the tournament off to a flying start, scoring twice for the hosts against Croatia.
Cameroon coach Volke Finke watches the first of three defeats for his side, in the pouring rain against Mexico. “Current mood: Cameroon coach” become an internet joke for a couple of hours.
The first huge shock of the World Cup: Robin van Persie scores a flying header in the Netherlands’ 5-1 defeat of world champions Spain.
…van Persie runs straight over to van Gaal for a high five, as the Dutch coach is praised for his tactical nouse of using five at the back…
…and Arjen Robben is on hand to seal a memorable win for the Dutch, in one of the most exciting games of the group stage.
Arsenal’s Joel Campbell nets as Costa Rica shock Suarez-less Uruguay, running out 3-1 winners in Group D’s opening game.
Daniel Sturridge scores England’s first goal of the tournament, as Hodgson’s side start strongly against Italy…
…it’s not long until the masterful Andrea Pirlo’s running the show though. Italy win 2-1.
Karim Benzema scores the first World Cup goal to be decided by goal-line technology. Four years late for Frank Lampard and England, but France profit nicely, beating Honduras 3-0.
Lionel Messi fails to crack under monumental pressure, scoring a sublime strike against Bosnia & Herzegovina, who are playing their first tournament.
Pepe loses his cool, headbutting hat-trick hero Thomas Muller, in Germany’s 4-0 victory against Portugal.
Clint Dempsey nets a late winner against bogey team Ghana; US interest in “soccer” soars.
Belgium’s super-subs strike for the first time, overcoming Algeria in their first group game.
Australian talisman Tim Cahill gives the winless Socceroos something to cheer about, with a beautiful, van Basten-esque volley against the Dutch.
Holders Spain tumble out the competition with a lacklustre defeat to Chile. This fella becomes a meme with a comforting iPad message of “Adios Spana” to Del Bosque and co.
James Rodriguez continues his fine form in the 2-1 win against Ivory Coast, and inspires a new dance craze in the Colombian side.
Luis Suarez, a major doubt before the World Cup, plays most of the England game, and scores twice to sink the Three Lions and ultimately knock them out. It was England’s worst performance at a World Cup since 1958.
Captain Gerrard takes his fair share of the blame for the winner, and is left considering his international future.
Benzema is on target again, as the French power past Switzerland. The 5-2 victory makes them outside favourites for many.
Cristiano Ronaldo sports an intriguing new hairstyle before waltzing through the American defence. He can’t break the US down though, as his Portugal side hold them to a 1-1 draw.
Neymar is again on form as Brazil top their group and march towards the knockout stages of the tournament, disposing of Cameroon 4-1.
David Villa scores a wonderful backheel for Spain before being substituted in his last international appearance. Despite a strong win against the Aussies, a dynasty is over.
Luis Suarez makes world news as he bites Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini. FIFA ban him from football for four months.
Frank Lampard plays what is likely to be his last game in an England shirt too, captaining a young England side to a goalless draw with Group D winners, Costa Rica.
Ivorian hearts are broken as Georgios Samaras scores a late penalty for Greece. The African side fail to qualify from their group for a third consecutive World Cup.
Again, Messi bosses an Argentine performance, as they beat Nigeria 3-2. This free-kick is the pick of the bunch though.
Old friends Joachim Low and Jurgen Klinsmann meet in a flooded Recife, as Low’s Germany win 1-0 and top their group.
For all Brazil’s attacking flair, Julio Cesar is the star of the 2nd round’s first encounter, sending his country through on penalties against Chile.
Scolari comforts an overwhelmed Neymar after the spot kicks.
Arjen Robben becomes the centre of a storm after it’s claimed that he dived to win the Netherlands a last-minute penalty against Mexico. Mexico had been leading all game, but late goals from Sneijder and Huntelaar sent the Oranje through.
James Rodriguez scores one of the goals of the tournament, as Colombia cruise through to the quarters against Uruguay.
Costa Rica net five perfect penalties in a shootout against Greece.
Switzerland hold on for dear life, but are just edged out of the World Cup by a late Angel Di Maria goal, as Argentina march on.
Manuel Neuer raises eyebrows with “sweeper keeper” tactics against Algeria; Germany are taken to extra time, where they eventually dispose of the last African side in the competition, 2-0.
…it’s not enough to keep America in the competition though, as Belgium win 2-1. Howard becomes a national hero though, even receiving a phone call from President Obama, who congratulates him for his performance.
Mats Hummels scores the only goal of the game as Germany beat France in the Maracana.
David Luiz scores the deciding free kick that knocks out Colombia…
…but the 2-1 win comes at a cost, with star man Neymar picking up a bad back injury that rules him out for weeks.
Luiz comforts a tearful James Rodriguez, and encourages the crowd to applaud his fine performance in Brazil this year.
The Belgians are eventually knocked out by another clinical Argentine display; Higuain this time providing the solitary goal.
Louis van Gaal brings on Tim Krul for Jasper Cillessen in the last minute of extra time, and the reserve keep is the hero for the Dutch, who knock surprise package Costa Rica out.
In Brazil’s first semi-final since they last won the trophy, Germany capitalise early on poor defending…
…Klose heaps on more pain for the Brazilians, netting his sixteenth World Cup goal and surpassing Ronaldo at the top of the leaderboard…
…and things go from bad to worse as the Germans run out 7-1 winners.
This is the first competitive fixture that Brazil have lost on home soil in nearly forty years. The country goes into sporting mourning.
After a goalless 120 minutes, Jasper Cillessen can’t repeat Tim Krul’s Holland heroics…
…Argentina beat the Netherlands on penalties and advance to their first World Cup final in twenty-four years.
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