Best Game, Best Goal and Biggest Flop are all recognized as Goal runs through the most iconic figures, moments and matches of an enthralling four weeks in Brazil.After four weeks, 64 matches and 171 goals, World Cup 2014 has finally drawn to a thrilling close with Germany's dramatic triumph over Argentina in Rio de Janeiro.
With so many gripping encounters, stellar solo performances and moments of madness over the past month, selecting the recipients of our World Cup awards has been as arduous as 120 minutes of Manaus humidity. But after much deliberation, Goal presents the winners.
|BEST PLAYER: ARJEN ROBBEN
Lionel Messi scooped the FIFA Golden Ball, James Rodriguez won the Golden Boot and Manuel Neuer was the standout goalkeeper, but we have opted to name Arjen Robben as the World Cup's best player.
The Bayern Munich star was deployed in an unorthodox central position as Louis van Gaal shifted to his 5-3-2 system, but the 30-year-old reveled in the role. He tore Spain to pieces in the Netherlands' opener, scored his third of the finals in the win over Australia and won the decisive penalty against Mexico in the last 16.
Costa Rica and Argentina may have stopped him from scoring in 120 minutes, but Robben won another penalty against Brazil as the Dutch claimed third place in impressive style. Put simply, he was the World Cup's most consistently decisive player and a worthy recipient of the prize.
|BEST YOUNGSTER: PAUL POGBA
Fresh from claiming the Golden Ball for best player at France's victorious Under-20 World Cup triumph in 2013, Paul Pogba further established his claim to be the world's best young player with his performances in Brazil.
He was at the heart of an athletic French midfield that devastated Switzerland, Honduras and Ecuador in the group stage (though he was on the bench for the clash with Ottmar Hitzfeld's men). When Les Bleus were struggling to find their best form in the last 16, it was Pogba who headed the winner to down Nigeria. It was no surprise to see FIFA recognize Pogba's contribution as it handed him the Best Young Player prize ahead of Raphael Varane and Memphis Depay.
|BEST VETERAN: MARIO YEPES
Mario Yepes became the World Cup's oldest outfield player this summer when the 38-year-old captained Colombia to a 3-0 win over Greece in the teams' opening group game, and the veteran proved to be the driving force behind Jose Pekerman's vibrant side. Yepes earned his 100th cap in the win over Cote d'Ivoire and was superb against Uruguay in the last 16 and Brazil in the quarterfinals, meaning he just edges out Miroslav Klose and Rafael Marquez for our award here.
|BEST COACH: JORGE LUIS PINTO
Costa Rica in many ways was the biggest success story of the World Cup, and its fairytale run to the quarterfinals sees Jorge Luis Pinto edge Joachim Low and Louis van Gaal to our prize for best coach.
The Central Americans were tipped as the whipping boys of Group D but secured two wins and a draw against former world champions Uruguay, Italy and England, before they battled past Greece on penalties with 10 men and took the Netherlands all the way to penalty kicks in the last eight. Costa Rica was bold, solid in shape and exciting in attack, and won the hearts of viewers across the world for its efforts — as did its animated and inspirational boss.
|BEST GOAL: TIM CAHILL
Robin van Persie, James Rodriguez and Lionel Messi all had genuine claims for the tournament's best goal, but Australia star Tim Cahill gets the nod for his stunning volley against the Netherlands in the group phase. The New York Red Bulls veteran watched the ball sail from deep over his shoulder before lashing an unstoppable weaker-foot volley in off Jasper Cillessen's crossbar, leaving the Socceroos with a memento to savor from their campaign in Brazil.
|BEST GAME: SPAIN 1-5 NETHERLANDS
The World Cup provided some truly memorable fixtures, but none matched the shock value and all-around entertainment of the reigning champion's opening match. Spain was totally torn apart by the previously unfancied Netherlands, with Robben and Van Persie tearing La Roja to shreds and leaving the watching world stunned for 90 minutes. Spain never fully recovered before crashing out of the group stage, while the Dutch rode the crest of the wave to achieve third place in the tournament.
|BIGGEST FLOP: IKER CASILLAS
After lifting the trophy in South Africa four years ago, Iker Casillas had a World Cup he would readily wish to forget this summer. The experienced keeper retained the armband and the No. 1 spot despite having been restricted to cup competitions for Real Madrid last season, but his first game ended in ignominy as he flapped at a cross and lost the ball to Van Persie's tackle to gift the Netherlands two of its five goals in the 5-1 thrashing. A careless parry from a free kick against Chile cost his side another goal and a place in the knockout phase.