Five defining moments


It wasn't an edifying moment; yet it will endure as a memorable one. Arguably, even though it was Brazil's defence that collapsed in the semifinals against Germany, the host's title challenge derailed once Juan Zuniga's knee crashed into Neymar's back. It fractured a vertebra in the Barcelona forward's lower spine. He cried almost immediately after he was hit, yet there was nothing to suggest the tackle was malicious. In fact, it perhaps wasn't even the worst offence of the match. The Brazilian side had targeted Colombia's James Rodriguez, but the youngster was fortunate not to suffer Neymar's fate.


Jasper Cillessen had never saved a penalty in his professional career; Tim Krul had succeeded only twice. Despite the absence of an `expert', Louis van Gaal brought on Krul in place of Cillessen, as a penalty shootout beckoned in the quarterfinals against Costa Rica. While doubts remained whether Krul was a good choice, the Dutch managed to place the assumption in the opponent's mind that an `expert' had been introduced. The placebo effect, some called it.

It worked fantastically. Krul was able to guess the direction of every penalty kick; it later turned out that he and van Gaal had prepared for this eventuality much in advance. Two attempts were saved and Netherlands won 4-3.


No other incident invited such great outrage at the World Cup. In the second half of the decisive Italy-Uruguay group stage match, Luis Suarez bit Giorgio Chiellini's left shoulder. Why? Well, only Suarez can tell.

It remains tough to understand why the Uruguayan has a penchant for this weird act.

His motivation notwithstanding, Suarez earned a nine-match ban in addition to a FIFA decree that prohibited him from all football activities for four months.


In itself, it was a moment of little significance. The penalty kept Chile in the shootout, but it didn't win the match for the team. However, Mauricio Pinilla and Alexis Sanchez had missed their spot kicks and Brazil was 2-0 up. Aranguiz's response was emphatic.

A few running steps and the missile from the outside of the boot was planted in the top corner. Julio Cesar moved a bit but wisely gave up. He could have lost a hand, so ferocious was the shot. Perhaps, this isn't the best description for what was the perfect penalty. Just as well, it needs to be seen to be cherished.


If you still harbour doubts, it was a penalty for sure. There was enough contact for Arjen Robben to earn the foul that was responsible for Netherlands' thrilling win over Mexico in the Round of 16. Yet what followed was a campaign that seemed determined to prove Robben is a cheat.

Sure, he dived earlier in the game, as he had done in the past. Yet, Robben isn't the only one guilty of it. This shouldn't grant the Dutchman impunity; in fact, FIFA could have set a welcome precedent by banning him for a game or two. But to vilify Robben despite the player being honest seemed improper.