FIFA World Cup Final Preview: Brazil 2014 produces moments to remember
Hosts humiliated by rampant Germany
Few could choose between Brazil and Germany ahead of their mouth-watering semi-final clash. Yet the European side flipped the narrative by producing a performance for the ages in a 7-1 drubbing of the hosts. A shell-shocked Brazil found themselves 5-0 down after just 29 minutes, with their opponents seemingly taking pity on the five-time champions thereafter. Few will forget the night Germany broke Brazilian hearts in their own backyard, even enjoying a standing ovation from a bedazzled home crowd when the seventh goal went in.
Costa Rica upset the odds
Earmarked as whipping boys in a group featuring three former winners in Uruguay, England and Italy, Costa Rica began their World Cup fairytale with a stunning 3-1 win over Uruguay. Having fallen behind early to Edinson Cavani's penalty, the Central American side produced a superb riposte through goals from Joel Campbell, Oscar Duarte and Marco Urena. Not content, they subsequently beat Italy and drew with England before eliminating Greece to reach the quarter-finals. Their journey ended there, with Costa Rica beaten on penalties by Netherlands, but they had certainly proved a point.
Klose surpasses Ronaldo's tally
Aged 36 and coming off a season in which he scored just seven Serie A goals for Lazio, it appeared Miroslav Klose's selection in the Germany squad was one of sentiment. Yet he found himself leading the line in the knockout stages, his goal in the 7-1 rout of Brazil following a similarly scrappy one in the Group G draw with Ghana to leave the German at the top of the all-time World Cup scoring chart. As if seeing his team's humiliation first-hand was not enough, former Brazil star Ronaldo was forced to see a lasting legacy taken away.
Rodriguez: A star is born
Those who had written off Colombia due to Radamel Falcao's injury-enforced absence had not banked on a coming-of-age showing from James Rodriguez. Falcao's Monaco colleague proved to be one of the players of the tournament, netting six goals, and his stunning chest-and-volley strike against Uruguay in the second round will be remembered among the all-time great World Cup goals.
Defending champions stunned
With three consecutive tournament successes, many were tipping Spain for a repeat of their 2010 triumph. However, Vicente del Bosque's side were brought back down to earth with a shuddering bump as Netherlands produced a sublime display in Salvador. Seemingly in command having opened the scoring through Xabi Alonso's penalty in the 27th minute, Spain ended on the wrong end of a 5-1 thrashing as Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben ran amok.
Messi makes his mark on world stage
Much of the pre-tournament buzz surrounded Lionel Messi's quest to put an exclamation mark against his stunning career by performing on the biggest stage of all. He certainly delivered in the group phase, his four goals taking Argentina to the second round - where a fine pass fed Angel di Maria and earned a last-gasp extra-time win over Switzerland. Having faded away as his side stuttered through the next two rounds, the stage is set for Messi to shine in the final.