If you’re like myself, and love seeing goals scored, then this World Cup was your pipe dream. Goalscoring took over the storylines throughout the World Cup. The 2014 World Cup saw 171 goals scored, tied for the most in World Cup history with the event hosted by France in 1998. Ronaldo’s record of 15 career World Cup goals was broken by Miroslav Klose, who (likely) retires with 16 career World Cup goals. James Rodriguez stole the hearts of many, and perhaps the wallet of a few club owners, with his stunning volleys and heart left on the field.
Speaking of James Rodriguez, let’s take a look at the final Golden Boot standings, players I previously said to watch for, and players that I missed.
- James Rodriguez – 6 goals, 2 assists
- Thomas Muller – 5 goals, 3 assists
- Neymar – 4 goals, 1 assist
- Lionel Messi – 4 goals, 1 assist
- Robin Van Persie – 4 goals
If you read my Golden Boot Predictions piece, you’ll know that, after performing some long, drawn-out math, I concluded that the Golden Boot winner would be required to score at least six goals throughout the tournament. That case rang true, with James Rodriguez stealing the show. Before getting to the players that actually performed, let’s look at players that I mentioned before the World Cup.
Neymar (Brazil) – Total Goals: 4. And he would have scored more if it weren’t for that meddling injury. Neymar was superb throughout his World Cup campaign, and the entire nation of Brazil was crushed when Neymar went down with a broken vertebrae. That injury cost him two games, and you’ve got to think he would have had a decent chance at scoring at least one more in those two games.
Lionel Messi (Argentina) – Total Goals: 4. After (controversially) winning the Golden Ball as the World Cup’s best player, Messi came up short of the Golden Boot. All four of his goals occurred during the group stages, which is hard to fathom considering Argentina reached the final. Argentina relied on Messi to bail them out multiple times in the group stage: his stoppage time goal in their 1-0 win against Iran secured Argentina 3 points and he got in to a hat trick race (he fell short of it) with Nigeria’s Ahmed Musa in Argentina’s 3-2 win that secured the group for the South American side. After the group stage, it seems as though he lost his scoring touch. He looked desperate at times. Perhaps part of it is due to the injuries that Angel di Maria and Sergio Aguero faced, but at times Messi became a distraction to those around him. Players were giving up decent looks at goal in favor of Messi. Regardless of that, Messi still had a very good performance at the 2014 World Cup.
My “In The Running”
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – Total Goals: 1. It is clear that Ronaldo was not at 100% during Portugal’s short life at the World Cup. It is also clear that Ronaldo had a very poor showing, regardless of fitness. He picked the worst and best moments to strike: crushing the United States’ hopes and dreams of securing six points in two games by crossing in a perfect ball on Silvestre Varela’s game-tying goal in stoppage time; and saving the United States from a group stage exit by scoring in the 80th minute against Ghana. At the end of the day, he still has a Ballon d’Or, Champions League trophy, and Irina Shayk to go home to.
Edin Dzeko (Bosnia & Herzegovina) – Total Goals: 1. After impressing during Bosnia’s pre-World Cup activities, Dzeko just failed to produce. His sole goal came in Bosnia’s only win – their final game against Iran, a 3-1 win where Dzeko opened up the scoring in the 8th minute. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses.
Romelu Lukaku (Belgium) – Total Goals: 1. A weird player on a weird team. Belgium lead for a total of 52 minutes combined in their five matches. Lukaku played 175 minutes in four of their five matches (he did not play against South Korea), and only managed one goal.
Sergio Aguero (Argentina) – Total Goals: 0. In my predictions, my explanation for Aguero was simple: “see Messi, Lionel.” That was referring to the fact that Argentina would be a goal scoring powerhouse. My short explanation here? Injuries.
Miroslav Klose (Germany) – Total Goals: 2. He did not reach my magic number of six, but he did reach his personal magic number of two: the number of goals required to break Ronaldo’s World Cup scoring record. Klose was brilliant in this World Cup despite being 36 years old. Personal shoutout to the Brazilian crowd that loudly applauded him when he was subbed off in Germany’s 7-1 thrashing of Brazil.
Luis Suarez (Uruguay) – Total Goals: 2. For the second World Cup in a row, Luis Suarez ruins his nation’s chances. His appetite for human flesh suffocated the brilliant play that Suarez put on display prior to the Georgio Chiellini incident.
Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina) – Total Goals: 1. Higuain just never got it going. Despite the talents of Messi, Lavezzi, and limited amounts of di Maria and Aguero, Higuain never found his scoring touch.
Thomas Muller (Germany) – Total Goals: 5. Despite people doubting his abilities as a striker, Joachim Loew continues to find ways to allow Muller to find the back of the net. A hat trick in the first game against Portugal got Muller off to a great start, and he followed that with goals against the U.S. and Brazil. Muller now has 10 career goals at the World Cup, and has a very good chance to break Klose’s scoring record. He’s 24 years old, and seems to be a lock to play in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and maybe even appear in the 2022 World Cup hosted by Somewhere In The World That Doesn’t Have Soccer.
Angel di Maria (Argentina) – Total Goals: 1. See Ageuro, Sergio.
A striker from Spain – Total Goals: 2. I’m giving Spain the benefit of the doubt here and including David Villa’s goal against The Socceroos as a goal scored via a striker, with Fernando Torres’ goal in that same game being the other goal. Words cannot describe how poor Spain played during the World Cup, so I am not going to attempt to explain it. All I have to say: Diego Costa, rest up that hammy, and prepare to become the villain of the Premier League.
Jackson Martinez (Colombia) – Total Goals: 2. Colombia was a very fun team to watch, and Jackson Martinez was not an exception. He filled in perfectly for Falcao.
Jozy Altidore (United States) – Total Goals: 0. I’m still upset about what could have been. Jozy saw just 23 minutes of play (a few of which included him lying on the ground, writhing in pain) after a hamstring injury in the opener against Ghana ended his 2014 World Cup campaign.
Daniel Sturridge (England) – Total Goals: 1. Beautifully poached goal on Wayne Rooney’s cross during their 2-1 loss to Italy. That dance will never get old.
Josep Drmic (Switzerland) – Total Goals: 0. I wrote that he was arguably the most underrated striker on the most underrated team. Now I’ll call him one of the most underperforming strikers on an average at-best team.
Fred (Brazil) – Total Goals: 1. Ha ha. Uhhh, yeah. About Fred being a goal scorer. I’m going to refrain from commenting on this one.
Mario Balotelli (Italy) – Total Goals: 1. Well, Balotelli was his usual mentally-weak self. His 50th minute game-winner against England was the high-point of his World Cup.
Ciro Immobile (Italy) – Total Goals: 0. Even Wayne Rooney managed to score…
Players That I Missed
Robin van Persie (Netherlands) – Total Goals: 4. If it weren’t for the injury bug, RvP would have had a very good chance at the Golden Boot. A brace against Spain in the opener gave RvP a great start, as did his Dutch counterpart Arjen Robben.
James Rodriguez (Colombia) – Total Goals: 6. Last but not least, the winner of my mathematic theory and, more importantly, the Golden Boot. What a performance the 23 year old midfielder put in. He scored in all five of Colombia’s games, including a brace against Uruguay in the Round of 16. Regardless of what team you supported (as long as they weren’t playing against Colombia), everyone supported James Rodriguez. He scored goals in all fashions. Perhaps he also deserved to add the Golden Ball to his trophy case. The once-every-four-year journalists considered him the next big thing, though I’d like to think that his €45 million price that Monaco paid last summer was a pretty big deal. He didn’t “come out of nowhere.” James Rodriguez is and has been the real deal, and we may see him at an even bigger club in 2014/15.
It may be a very long time before we see another World Cup with as much offensive output as this one, so savor each and every goal. Relive Ian Darke’s call on Jermaine Jones’ stunner against Portugal, or James Rodriguez’s chest-to-volley against Uruguay. On to Russia…