World Cup highs and lows: Our experts have their say

The Rio Report

View gallery

.

Ahead of Sunday's final in Rio de Janeiro, we asked our World Cup special correspondents to give us their highs and lows from an unforgettable tournament.

- - -

REDA MAHER (OUR MAN IN RIO, ROVING REPORTER EXTRAORDINAIRE)

Twitter: @Reda_Eurosport

World Cup high

Watching history as Germany tore through a Brazil side ravaged by emotion over Neymar's injury. The home fans applauding the seventh goal was awe inspiring.

World Cup low

Experiencing the aftermath of that result with locals, whose convivial, party atmosphere has been replaced by a morose melancholy and explosion of soul-searching at even the English cannot compete with.

[READ ALL OF REDA'S BLOGS]

- - -

View gallery

.

MIGUEL DELANEY (BASED IN BRAZIL, COVERING ARGENTINA)

Twitter: @MiguelDelaney

World Cup high

Almost too many epic moments to mention, but probably Leo Messi's goal against Iran, for the context and the atmosphere.

World Cup low

The hysterical reactions from Uruguay and Brazil to, respectively, Suarez's bite and Neymar's injury.

[DELANEY: MESSI THREATENING MARADONA'S BENCHMARKS]

- - -

View gallery

.

JIM WHITE (BASED IN BRAZIL, COVERING ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING)

Twitter: @jimw1

World Cup high

I was in the fan park in Fortaleza for the opening game and at half time there was one of those public proposals you get at sporting events. Footage of sadsack yanks being turned down by their girlfriend as they go down on one knee at the basketball arena proliferate on YouTube. This was different: it was a proposal of gay marriage (he said yes). There won’t be much of that at Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022.

World Cup low

Seeing an entire homeless family, father, mother and two toddlers, sleeping on the street one night. Evidence that this World Cup was going to have to work very hard if it was going to fulfil its claim on helping to lift Brazilians out of poverty.

[READ ALL OF JIM'S BLOGS]

- - -

View gallery

.

JACK LANG (BASED IN BRAZIL AND COVERING THE SELECAO)

TWITTER: @snap_kaka_pop

World Cup high

Watching Italy vs Uruguay on a big screen in a packed waiting area at Rio airport after landing just after kick-off. The howls of confusion, amusement and disapproval at Surez’s bite will live long in the memory. Ditto watching the Costa Rica vs Netherlands penalties on a tiny TV at a wedding.

World Cup low

The injury to Neymar. He will have other opportunities to shine at World Cups and would not have prevented the defeat to Germany, but it was sad to see the face of this World Cup forced to miss his side’s decisive game.

[LANG: WHERE DO BRAZIL GO FROM HERE?]

- - -

View gallery

.

ROB SMYTH (COVERING ENGLAND'S DEMISE AND THE WORLD CUP'S CLAIMS TO GREATNESS)

World Cup high

Louis van Gaal's I-love-it-when-a-plan-comes-together high five with Robin van Persie, every single thing about James Rodriguez, and the collection of wonderful team goals from Chile and particularly Colombia.

World Cup low

The weariness and caution exhibited in a wretched set of quarter-finals and the second semi; Italy not instigating a brawl with Luis Suarez after their defeat to Uruguay.

[SMYTH: THE BEST WORLD CUP EVER? NOT EVEN CLOSE]

- - -

View gallery

.

ALEXANDER NETHERTON (TACTICS BORED GURU)

Twitter: @lxndrnthrtn

World Cup high

Brazil's exit: After the constant fouling of James Rodriguez and other Colombia players, the hysterical overreaction - a mixture of misdirected vengeance and self-pity - to Neymar's injury contributed to their own sense of inevitable defeat. That it ended in a 7-1 stuffing was close to perfect.

World Cup low

All the crying: While those who cry at national anthems out of genuine pride for their long-neglected countries can possibly be excused, the other tears at every single exit of the competition by players and fans suggests that they might be better suited to the Olympics, a high-octane mixture of mawkishness and over-egged emotion.

[TACTICS BORED: 7 INCREDIBLE MOMENTS]

- - -

View gallery

.

JULIAN BENNETTS (BASED IN BRAZIL, COVERED PORTUGAL AND NETHERLANDS)

Twitter: @julian_bennetts

World Cup high

The national anthems. I've never been particularly inspired by anthems before, but the rendition of Brazil and Chile's before their games with Croatia and Holland will stay with me for a long time. Finishing a capella and continuing well after the music stopped, they were genuinely awe-inspiring moments.

World Cup low

You don't have to look very far in Brazil to see abject poverty, and the gap between FIFA's world and that of the local inhabitants was brutally obvious here. The stadium in Sao Paulo was one of the worst examples, a gleaming (and unfinished) new arena that is surrounded by some of the poorest dwellings in the country. FIFA's universe looks great on TV but seemed rather out of place here.

[BENNETTS: WHAT NETHERLANDS' RUN MEANS FOR MAN UTD]

- - -

View gallery

.

BEN LYTTLETON (TELLER OF THINGS WE LEARNED)

Twitter: @benlyt

World Cup high

So many wonderful individual moments, but not much will beat Tim Cahill’s goal against Holland – proof that nice guys can succeed – and the reaction of David Ospina when Faryd Mondragon came on to replace him. Oh, and RVP’s flying header. Will never get bored of watching that.

World Cup low

The ease with which the idea that England are close to the elite has been accepted – pre-World Cup Roy Hodgson compared England’s transitional team to Germany 2006, when their team was on the cusp of something special. I’m not sure England are – I’d be more optimistic if I was from Chile, Algeria or Costa Rica, to be honest. Also the cult of the individual that Brazil succumbed to after Neymar’s injury, which ignored the fact that this sport is a team game.

[FIVE THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR IN THE WORLD CUP FINAL]

- - -

View gallery

.
ANDY BRASSELL (COVERING FRANCE AND GERMANY)

Twitter: @AndyBrassell

World Cup high

Algeria's first-half display against South Korea. Breathtakingly good and unexpected too.

World Cup low

The manner of Brazil's exit. Whatever you thought of the team, a great host nation and their public deserved better.

View comments (4)