The final of a World Cup is a bittersweet moment. It is the culmination of weeks of stunning football, but also signals the end of the biggest party on the planet.

Both on and off the pitch, this World Cup has delivered memorable moments in spades, including an enthralling final.

Boring matches could be counted on one hand, while most games were filled with drama and a stack of goals.

Despite this glut of goals, goalkeepers have been the stars of this Copa do Mundo with Tim Howard, Keylor Navas and Guillermo Ochoa proving nearly unbeatable, and penalty killers Tim Krul and Sergio Romero also showing young goalies that they are not just there to make up the numbers.


It almost makes the brain hurt, trying to scroll through hundreds of highlights, goals, games, saves and moments that touched your heart.

To achieve some closure, however, I will try and pick my favourites.

Match of the tournament: must be the German demolition of Brazil. The Germany game against Ghana was the most exciting game, but the semi-final was a 9/11 moment for football as few will forget where they watched that.

Goal of the tournament: without question Columbia's James Rodriguez volley against Uruguay.

Save of the tournament: Guillermo Ochoa's legendary save against Neymar.

Touching moment: tens of thousands of Chileans screaming their anthem gave me goosebumps, while Arjen Robben's attempt to console his bawling son after the penalty shootout loss to Argentina made him the darling of every woman in Brazil.

Sadly, the television audiences only experienced one part of this tournament that was made even more special by what actually happened outside the stadiums.

Number one on that list is the local population who offered hospitality, friendship, and a joy for life that was simply infectious.

On top of that, hundreds of thousands of fans from the 12 latino nations added a sauce of samba and salsa that has etched this cup into the memories of those fortunate enough to experience it.

The predicted chaos, violence, riots and organizational bedlam never materialised, aside from a few isolated incidents.

The Brazil government may have to face the music for their overspending in the upcoming elections, but the tournament and the country's logistics were impressive.

The stadiums were all terrific structures - while the travel by plane, bus, metro or car was easy and impressively efficient.

Of course, Brazil still has plenty of quirks that make you smile or pull out your hairs.
Like the bureaucracy that turns a simple task of printing a name on a Brazil shirt into a major logistical event that involves 11 staff members.

Or the crazy local bus drivers that play chicken with their passengers and every other vehicle on the road.

Or the bizarre sight of a nuclear plant in the heart of the Costa Verde, a stunningly picturesque beach region south of Rio.

And of course the blatant and eye-watering gulf between rich and poor that puts this ridiculously wealthy nation to shame.

Whatever the size of your house of your carton box, all Brazilians today share the disgrace their team has brought upon them.

But their wonderful smiles will soon return when they gather for a kick around on the beach, for a typically ice-cold beer or a medicinal dose of samba.

- By Coen Lammers in Rio de Janeiro