This year’s FIFA World Cup ended with Colombia’s James Rodríguez winning the Golden Boot for most goals scored throughout the tournament, and Argentina’s Lionel Messi winning the Golden Ball. Of course both would have preferred to lift the FIFA World Cup trophy like the German National Team, but individual achievements are still laudable in the team game. Many have said that Rodríguez or Thomas Müller should have won the Golden Ball instead of Messi, and that the Argentine’s winning of the trophy was purely politics.
James Rodríguez became the first player to win the Golden Boot and not participate in the semi-finals of the tournament since Russia’s Oleg Salenko won the award back in 1994, when his team was knocked out of the tournament in the group stages. Rodríguez scored in all five games that he played in, which made him the only player to score in every game he played in at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He finished with six goals and two assists in just 400 minutes.
Thomas Müller finished the tournament with five goals and three assists in seven games played. He totaled 682 minutes played during the tournament on his way to earning a World Cup title with his German teammates. Since he finished second in scoring in the tournament, he won what is known as the Silver Boot. If he would have scored in the World Cup Final’s against Argentina, he would have become the first player ever to win the Golden Boot back to back tournaments. He won the award in South Africa 2010, finishing with five goals and three assists, the same tally he had in Brazil 2014.
In addition to winning the Silver Boot, Müller also won the Silver Ball at this year’s tournament, but his individual achievement’s mean nothing compared to being able to lift the FIFA World Cup trophy for his native Germany. 2014 is the first year that Germany has won the World Cup since unification after the Cold War. Their last victory in the tournament occurred in Italia 1990, when the World Cup winning country was still known as West Germany.
The Bronze Boot was earned by Neymar at this years tournament. He had four goals and one assist in only five games played because of his back injury. . Lionel Messi also had four goals and one assist to finish off the tournament as well, but Neymar achieved the feat in less minutes, 457 to 693, respectively. Robin Van Persie had four goals too for the Netherlands, but did not have any assists. Some felt that Neymar, could have won the Golden Boot over James Rodríguez and possibly the Golden Ball over Messi, if the Brazilian star did not get injured in the match against Colombia in the quarterfinals.
The Golden Ball was awarded by FIFA to Lionel Messi in a controversial decision. ESPN posted a poll taken by AS readers, a spanish language website based out of Madrid, that indicated readers voted for James Rodríguez as the best player at the FIFA World Cup tournament, and not Lionel Messi. Since many people in Madrid dislike those in Barcelona, where Messi plays his club football, there could be some bias in the voting. The AS readers also voted Raphaël Varane, a Real Madrid player, as the young player of the tournament.
The Bronze Ball was given to Arjen Robben, who led the Netherlands to a third placed finish. To round out the awards given by FIFA at Brazil 2014, Manuel Neuer of Germany won the Golden Glove for best goalkeeper, Paul Pogba won the Best Young Player Award at the tournament, and Colombia won the FIFA Fair Play Trophy. With Rodríguez being only 23-years-old, and Neymar being just 22, it would not be surprising if either one of them were to win a Golden Boot or a Golden Ball in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash