FIFA World Cup

The greatest spectacle on earth

Print edition : June 27, 2014

Pele in action during Brazil's 5-2 semi-final victory over France in the 1958 World Cup. He, aged just 17 then, scored three goals in the match. Photo: The Hindu Archives

Uruguayans (from left) Pedro Cea, Hector Scarone and Hector Castro celebrate after their side beat Argentina 4-2 in the first World Cup final in Montevideo, Uruguay, on July 30, 1930. Photo: AFP

Brazilian forward Leonidas da Silva (left) controlling the ball in front of a Swedish defender during the World Cup match for third place in Bordeaux, France, in1938. Photo: AFP

Ferenc Puskas puts Hungary 1-0 up against Germany in the 1954 final. Germany won 3-2. The match was the subject of a 2003 German film titled "The Miracle of Bern". Photo: The Hindu Archives

Castilho, Brazil's goalkeeper, dives to save at the feet of Sandor Kocsis of Hungary in the World Cup quarter-final in 1954. Hungary, the underdogs, won 4-2. Photo: The Hindu Archives.

The Jules Rimet Cup, named after the French president of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Created by French sculptor Abel Lafleur, the solid gold statuette weighs 4 kilograms and measures 30 cm in height. Uruguay won the first edition in 1930 at home, but In 1970 the Jules Rimet Cup became the permanent property of Brazil after its third World Cup victory in Mexico. Photo: AFP

The present official World Cup trophy stands on display at the National Stadium in Brasilia, Brazil, on May 27. Photo: Eraldo Peres/AP

Brazilian forward Garrincha (left), variously known as "the little bird" and the "angel with the bent legs", dribbles past Welsh defender Mel Hopkins during the 1958 World Cup quarter-final between Brazil and Wales. Brazil advanced to the semi-finals with a 1-0 victory on a goal by 17-year-old Pele. Pele is called the "King of Football" but many rate Garrincha as the greatest Brazilian star. Photo: AFP

Swedish goalkeeper Kalle Svensson dives to block the ball in front of Brazilian forward Ademir in Rio de Janeiro during the 1950 World Cup final pool match. Ademir scored four goals as Brazil beat Sweden 7-1. Ademir finished the competition as the leading scorer with eight goals, but Brazil lost in the final to Uruguay 1-2 in front of 200,000 fans at Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: AFP

Geoff Hurst about to score the disputed goal for England in the 1966 final against West Germany at Wembley, London. Hurst scored a hat-trick in the match, the only one ever scored in a World Cup final. Photo: Getty Images

Portugal's Eusebio (left), scores one of his four goals during the 1966 World Cup quarter-final match against North Korea at Goodison Park, Liverpool. Portugal defeated North Korea 5-3 after trailing 0-3. Eusebio, who was born into poverty in Mozambique but became an international sporting icon, was later voted one of the 10 best players of all time. Photo: AP

Brazil's national soccer team poses for a group photograph on June 17, 1962 in Santiago, Chile, after Brazil beat Czechoslovakia in the final 3-1. (Standing, from left) Djalma Santos, Zito, Gilmar, Zozimo, Nilton Santos, Mauro. (Kneeling from left): America (masseur), Garrincha, Didi, Vava, Amarildo, Zagalo. Photo: AFP

Argentinian midfielder Mario Kempes (left), and forward Daniel Bertoni celebrate after the former scored a goal, his second, to give Argentina a 2-1 lead over the Netherlands during extra time in the 1978 final, played in Buenos Aires. Bertoni scored a third goal to give Argentina its first-ever title with a 3-1 victory. Photo: AFP

West German forward Gerd Mueller sends a header past Australian goalkeeper Jack Reilly and defender Doug Utjesenovic during a 1974 first round match between West Germany and Australia. West Germany won 3-0. Photo: AFP

Brazilian captain Carlos Alberto, with the Jules Rimet Trophy amidst thousands of fans, in the Aztec stadium, Mexico City, on June 21, 1970. This was the third time that Brazil won the trophy. Photo: The Hindu Archives

Germany's captain Franz Beckenbauer with the World Cup after a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands in 1974. It was in that year the current FIFA trophy, created by the Italian sculptor Silvio Gazzaniga, was first awarded. Photo: AFP

Johan Cruyff, the Netherlands' captain, dribbles past Argentinian goalkeeper Carnevali to score his team's second goal in a 1974 quarter-final match at Gelsenkirchen, West Germany. Holland beat Argentina 4-0. Photo: AFP

Diego Maradona of Argentina fists the ball past Peter Shilton, English goalkeeper, to score the opening goal of the quarter-final match in 1986 at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City. Argentina won 2-1. Photo: Getty Images

Paolo Rossi of Italy in action during the Round Two, Group Three match between Brazil and Italy at the Sarria stadium, Barcelona, Spain, in 1982. Italy won 3-2. Photo: Getty Images

Dino Zoff, Italian goalkeeper and captain, receives the trophy from Spain's King Juan Carlos after a 3-1 win over West Germany in the 1982 final in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain. Photo: The Hindu Archives

Three minutes after scoring the "hand of god" goal in the 1986 quarter-final against England, Maradona dribbles past Terry Butcher to score what many consider as the "goal of the century". Photo: AFP

Argentina's Lionel Messi during a World Cup qualifying match against Ecuador in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in June 2012. Photo: Enrique Marcarian/Reuters

Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo in a first round match in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in the 2010 World Cup. Photo: KARIM JAAFAR/AFP

It comes around once in four years, throwing up heroes, villains and fools and eliciting the most intense of reactions. For football fans the world over, the FIFA World Cup is much more than a tournament. What will the 2014 edition throw up?

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