Now for the fun part.
With Mario Götze’s 113th-minute winner against Argentina in the final, the 2014 World Cup tied the 1998 tournament in France for the most goals in any World Cup with 171.
That means fun for everyone!
But only 10 of those 171 can make this list, so we’re picking the best ones.
Hint: lots of James Rodriguez, because James Rodriguez is awesome.
10. Lionel Messi vs. Nigeria
The player who eventually won the Golden Ball picked up the first direct free-kick goal of the tournament when he blasted the set-piece past Vincent Enyema who hardly even tried, knowing he had no chance.
The goal would prompt Stephen Keshi to declare “he [Messi] is not from this planet. He’s from Jupiter.” Argentina would win the Group F game 3-2.
Messi had a late winner against Iran as well that was a very pretty goal, but free kicks are more fun.
9. Jermaine Jones vs. Portugal
John Brooks captured American hearts when he headed the United States past Ghana, but going on individual degree of difficulty, Jermaine Jones ripped a peach against Portugal that would put the US ahead and lead them to victor…a 2-2 draw (come on, Ronaldo).
Jones put some impressive curl on the ball and gave the Portuguese keeper no chance as the ball tucked into the far corner.
8. Arjen Robben vs. Spain
On a breakaway for the Netherlands in their opening match, Arjen Robben wasn’t able to get fully past the defense. No problems. He spun around with his back to the goal, cut into traffic, beat two defenders trailing the play, and left the goalkeeper on his rear end before putting the ball into the back of the net and giving the Netherlands a final touch of brilliance in their 5-1 win over Spain.
7. James Rodriguez vs. Japan
Yay! More James please! We’ve answered your pleas, and have grabbed one of the young Colombian’s six goals of the 2014 World Cup. And there’s more after, don’t worry.
Against Japan in the group stage, Rodriguez put on some serious moves that sent Japanese defender Maya Yoshida tumbling embarrassingly to the ground. And then he scored. It was Rodriguez’s third goal of the tournament, but it wasn’t his best. We’re getting to that…
6. David Luiz vs. Colombia
We love great free kicks, and David Luiz had the best of the tournament. An absolute ripper against Colombia to break James Rodriguez’s heart, Luiz unleashed a knuckleball into the top right corner in the 69th minute.
The goal would end up being the winner, as Brazil went through 2-1.
5. Xherdan Shaqiri vs Honduras
The Swiss were looking to prove they were deserving of their much-criticized group seed, and they made it into the knockout stage. One of their best moments was against Honduras, when star youngster Xherdan Shaqiri delivered a hat-trick, the third of which was this insane strike from wayyyyyy far out.
4. Mario Götze vs. Argentina
How do you not place a World Cup final winner on the list? Then again, this wasn’t just any winner. It was filthy. First was the heck of a cross from Schurrle. Götze snuck behind Martin Demichelis (the Manchester City version of Demichelis, clearly) and controlled the ball with his chest, firing home without the ball touching the ground.
A goal to win the World Cup in the 113th minute. That’s what legends are made of.
3. Tim Cahill vs. Netherlands
Oh. Wow. Australia means business. That’s what everyone thought to themselves when Tim Cahill ripped the back of the net with a ridiculous volley that put Australia level with the Netherlands. The goal came moments after the Dutch took the lead, and announced to the world that the Aussies were here to play.
Cahill’s goal was stunning given he hit the shot one-time on a deep pass from behind the mid line, coming from around behind the defender to connect with the ball. Many would have this as the goal of the tournament, but for us, there are two others that edge it out. It’s still beautiful to watch over and over and over…
2. Robin van Persie vs. Spain
The flying header. One of the most iconic images from this World Cup is the Dutch striker midair, having just pounced on a stunning delivery from Daley Blind. Van Persie began what would eventually become a Spanish onslaught, and he wow’d the crowd as well. He celebrated by sprinting to his manager Louis van Gaal and delivering a monumental high-five, maybe something we’ll see in England as Van Gaal has taken over at Manchester United.
1. James Rodriguez vs. Uruguay
It’s our man again! Undoubtedly the goal of the tournament, the Golden Boot winner unleashed a vicious volley that left the Uruguayans utterly befuddled. It announced Rodriguez on the world stage (although we had already fallen in love with him long before) and said Colombia would not be taken lightly.
This goal has everything as far as degree of difficulty. The ball pops up in the air, and Rodriguez chests it down facing away from goal. Before the ball touches the ground, he does a 90-degree turn and rips a howitzer with his left foot that clips the underside of the crossbar and caroms into the goal from a good 23-yards out or so. Enjoy.