Format: Group stage, knockouts
Golden Boot: James Rodriguez (Colombia)
It took 64 years for the tournament to return to the most decorated football country.
When football’s biggest party arrived in Brazil, the country lived up to expectations and delivered one of the most memorable tournaments.
Bosnia and Herzegovina were the only debutants while none of the Nordic nations qualified.
The tournament was held in 12 stadiums across Brazil, with the final at the historic Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
FIFA deployed new technology for assisting referees with close calls on the goal line, as well as vanishing spray for marking the spot for free-kicks.
Due to hot and humid conditions in Brazil, FIFA sanctioned cooling breaks for players and officials. The breaks would be given at the referee’s discretion after 30 minutes.
Holders Spain faced a shock exit in the group stages after a drubbing at the hands of their nemesis in the last World Cup final, the Netherlands. The Dutch won 5-1. Spain then went on to lose to Chile before a consolation win over Australia.
In group D, termed the “Group of Death”, Italy and England were knocked out as Costa Rica and Uruguay advanced. Portugal’s early exit from the tournament was also unexpected.
Hosts Brazil were among the favourites, riding on the success of their newest star Neymar. They edged past Colombia in the quarter-finals but lost Neymar for the rest of the tournament with a back injury.
Their misery compounded when Germany handed them a 7-1 thrashing in the semis.
Argentina, led by one of the game’s greatest players Lionel Messi, made their way to the final. The final saw strong defensive tactics from both sides and was pushed into extra time after no goals were scored in 90 minutes.
Mario Gotze, who came on as a substitute in the final two minutes of normal time, scored a brilliant goal in the 113th minute to make Germany the first European nation to win the World Cup on South American soil.
Fans and analysts termed this tournament one of the best World Cups full of goals and a festive atmosphere.
Robin van Persie scored one of the most memorable goals when he headed Netherlands into the lead in their opening game against Spain.
Leading up to the tournament, protests were held across Brazil against the use of public funds ($11bn) for building stadiums instead of housing, hospitals and schools.
Police used force against protesters, leading to injuries and global condemnation.
Uruguay’s Luis Suarez bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in a group-stage match. He was shown the red card and banned for nine games by FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee.
Germany’s post-win celebrations back home came under heavy criticism after they mocked Argentina’s gauchos by dancing with a stooped posture.