Your A to Z Brazil 2014 World Cup guide

Last updated 15:23 12/06/2014
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With the world's biggest sporting event kicking off in Brazil this month, Sam Wilson looks back at some of the memorable moments and colourful characters that have defined World Cup history.

A - Anschluss

One of the most notorious games at the World Cup finals saw West Germany and Austria play out a mutually agreeable 1-0 result to eliminate Algeria from the 1982 tournament. Algeria had upset the West Germans 2-1 in the opening game of Group 2, but subsequent results meant that a one or two goal victory for Jupp Derwall's team would see them advance along with their Austrian neighbours. After scoring the goal they needed in the 10th minute through Horst Hrubesch, the two teams united in destroying the spirit of fair play by playing non-attacking keep-ball for the remaining 80 minutes. Both the West Germans and Austrians duly advanced, but the outcry at the "Anschluss", as it came to be known, ensured that final group games have been played simultaneously ever since.

B - Battle of Santiago

In 1962, Italy and hosts Chile met in an infamous group game that was christened the "Battle of Santiago" for a series of violent altercations between opposing players. A foul 12 seconds after kickoff set the tone for a match in which English referee Ken Aston sent off two Italian players, Giorgio Ferrini (who had to be dragged off the field by policemen) and Mario David (for kicking Chilean attacker Leonel Sanchez in the head). The two teams continued to wage war throughout a brutal affair, with Sanchez incredibly escaping a red card despite breaking Italian striker Humberto Maschio's nose with a left hook, and police had to intervene on three more occasions to break up clashes as the game descended into farce. The late BBC commentator David Coleman would famously describe the match as "the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game." Incidentally, Chile won the match 2-0.

C - Celebrations

For most players, scoring a goal on football's grandest stage while representing the country of your birth is the fulfilment of a boyhood dream. It's hardly surprising then that some wish to mark this special moment with an impromptu - or rehearsed - celebration. The World Cup has witnessed some memorable celebrations over the years, with Roger Milla's hip-wiggling Makossa dance around the corner flag after firing Cameroon into the quarterfinals at Italia 1990 turning the then 38-year-old into a household name. Other unforgettable celebrations include Brazilian striker Bebeto's baby-cradling antics to mark the birth of his son, Mattheus Oliveira (who is now a highly promising player with Flamengo and a Brazil under-20 international), and Nigeria's Rashidi Yekini grasping the net in exultation after scoring his country's first ever goal at the World Cup finals in 1994.

Nicolas Anelka

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D - Disgrace

The World Cup has seen its fair share of disgraceful episodes that have a cast a shadow over the so-called "beautiful game". Some of the most unsavoury incidents include Scotland's Willie Johnston and Argentina's Diego Maradona being sent home for doping offenses in 1978 and 1994 respectively, a revolt by a pampered France squad against their unpopular coach Raymond Domenech in 2010 following striker Nicolas Anelka's expulsion, and an unrepentant Antonio Rattin refusing to leave the field against England in a heated quarterfinal in 1966 which prompted Alf Ramsey to label the Argentinians "animals" and forbid his players from swapping shirts.

E - El Salvador

When El Salvador defied the odds to qualify for the 1982 World Cup in Spain, the players became national heroes in the tiny Central American country in the midst of a brutal civil war. However, the national team would return home in disgrace after losing all three of their group matches, including a 10-1 thrashing at the hands of Hungary in Elche which remains the heaviest defeat at the World Cup finals. Coach Mauricio Rodríguez's gung-ho tactics certainly contributed to the unflattering scoreline as he sought to dazzle the world with the team's attacking flair. The Salvadorans did restore some pride in their remaining two games at the tournament, going down 1-0 to Belgium and losing 2-0 to a formidable Argentinian side, but were nevertheless shunned by the public on their return from Spain.

F - Fontaine, Just

Moroccan-born marksman Just Fontaine holds the record for the most goals scored in a single tournament, finding the back of the net a remarkable 13 times as France finished third at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. Fontaine got off the mark for the French in a 2-1 over Scotland before plundering a hat-trick in a 7-3 thrashing of Paraguay. In the final game of group play the prolific Reims striker scored both goals in a 3-2 loss to Yugoslavia, before bagging another brace in a 4-0 win over Northern Ireland in the quarterfinals. France's hopes of winning a first World Cup were ended by a Pele-inspired Brazil in the semifinal, though Fontaine was on target again in a 5-2 defeat. The free-scoring Frenchman racked up a further four goals in a 6-3 rout of defending champions West Germany in the third place playoff, breaking the record for the most number of goals in a tournament set by Hungary's Sandor Kocsis in Switzerland four years earlier. "Beating my record? I don't think it can ever be done," Fontaine, who retired through injury at the age of 26, said prior to the 2010 showpiece.

Just Fontaine

G - Group of Death

Every World Cup draw throws up a "Group of Death" which pits three or four evenly-matched teams against each other and puts the progress of one of world football's traditional superpowers in jeopardy. Examples from previous tournaments include England's testing pool in 2002 which saw them up against pre-tournament favourites Argentina, Sweden and Nigeria, Ivory Coast's nightmare draws in 2006 (Argentina, Netherlands and Serbia and Montenegro) and 2010 (Brazil, Portugal and North Korea) and Italy's battle with the Republic of Ireland, Mexico and Norway in 1994, which remains the only group in World Cup history in which all four teams finished on the same points.  The next edition in Brazil features a number of potential Groups of Death with defending champions Spain drawn alongside three-time finalists the Netherlands, Australia and Chile in Group B, past winners England, Uruguay and Italy locking horns in Group D and European powerhouses Germany and Portugal taking on the United States and Ghana in Group G.

H - Hand of God 

Diego Maradona may be one of the greatest players to have ever played the beautiful game, but his reputation will forever be tarnished by the infamous 'Hand of God' goal he scored in the quarterfinal against England at Mexico 1986. In the 51st minute of an evenly matched affair, a miscued clearance from England midfielder Steve Hodge hoisted the ball up in the air towards his goalkeeper Peter Shilton, and as the on-rushing England No 1 came out to punch the ball clear, the impish Maradona outjumped him to guide the ball into the unguarded net with his hand. Incredibly, Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser and his assistants failed to spot the infringement, and Maradona and his team-mates rushed off to celebrate, despite furious English protests. Of course, Maradona showed the other side of his game with his second goal just four minutes later, dribbling around half the England team to slot the ball into the net from an acute angle. Maradona claimed after the game the controversial first goal was scored "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God", and an already tense sporting and political rivalry between the two countries was destined to grow even bigger. 

Diego Maradona in action against England. Photo: Getty

I - Injustice

The World Cup finals have been tainted by an array of injustices, from the aforementioned "Anschluss" between West Germany and Austria which eliminated Algeria, to Argentina's suspect 6-0 victory over Peru that put the junta-led hosts into the 1978 World Cup final at the expense of their neighbours Brazil. Some Peruvian players have since claimed they were ordered to lose by their government as part of chilling deal cut between the two countries' dictators over the torture of political prisoners. Current champions Spain suffered a shock quarterfinal exit on penalties to co-hosts South Korea in 2002 after having two "goals" chalked off in shady circumstances in Gwangju, while Frank Lampard's disallowed goal against Germany in 2010 still rankles England supporters, with the ball bouncing several feet over the goal line but still being missed by the hapless officials.

J- Jailtime 

Saudi Arabia's Saeed Al-Owairan launched himself on the world scene when he scored one of the best goals at the 1994 World Cup, picking up the ball in his own half and slaloming past four Belgian defenders before slotting the ball beyond the reach of goalkeeper Michel Preud'homme into the top corner of the net.  The Saudis won the game 1-0 in Washington to advance to the second round, where they were beaten 3-1 by Sweden. However, the team had done their country proud on their first World Cup appearance and returned home to Riyadh as heroes, with King Fahd rewarding the goalscoring midfielder with a luxury car. Al-Owairan apparently enjoyed his new-found fame a little too much, and his penchant for Western nightlife saw him fall foul of Saudi authorities. He was later jailed for six months and banned from playing competitive football for a year after being caught drinking with a Western woman in the strict Islamic Kingdom. "The goal against Belgium was a double-edged sword for me," Al-Owairan later admitted. "In some ways, it was great. In other ways, it was awful. Because it put me in the spotlight, everybody was focusing on me."

K - Kidology

One of the abiding memories of the 2006 World Cup is Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann's ultimate act of kidology in the hosts' penalty shootout win against Argentina. With a seminfinal place at stake in Berlin, the German No 1 was not leaving anything to chance and consulted a crumpled list he had tucked away in his sock which contained the penalty habits of Argentina's players. Studying the note between penalty kicks appeared to unnerve the Argentinians, and Lehmann had clearly done his homework as he saved from Roberto Ayala to put the host nation in control. When a visibly nervous Esteban Cambiasso stepped up to take Argentina's crucial fourth penalty, Lehmann once again pulled out the note from behind his shinpad and studied it momentarily. However, Cambiasso's name was not even on the list - Lehmann was simply using it to plant seeds of doubt in the midfielder's mind. The ploy worked, as Cambiasso lost his composure and fired his spotkick straight at Lehmann, sparking scenes of jubilation. The note later fetched €1 million at an auction, despite being barely legible and damp with sweat.

Jens Lehmann

L - Late drama 

"And here comes Hurst. He's got... some people are on the pitch... they think it's all over! It is now, it's four!" Kenneth Wolstenholme's perfectly timed commentary captured the late drama in the 1966 final at Wembley, as England striker Geoff Hurst breached the West German defence to complete his hat-trick and secure the hosts' maiden world title. It was just one of many dramatic conclusions to World Cup matches over the years, with Dennis Bergkamp's last-minute wonder goal for the Netherlands against Argentina in 1998 etching the Dutchman's name into finals folklore. With 89 minutes on the clock, Bergkamp expertly controlled a raking Frank De Boer pass before cutting inside defender Roberto Ayala and smashing the ball with the outside of his boot past the despairing dive of Carlos Roa. Another timely intervention was Italy's extra time blitzkrieg against Germany in 2006, when Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero scored spectacular late goals to prevent the game from going to penalties and book the Azzurri's place in the final.

M - Maracanazo

Maracanazo ("the Maracana blow") is an expression that still strikes fear in the hearts of Brazilians. Uruguay's shock 2-1 win in the 1950 World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro silenced the majority of the 173,000 spectators in Brazil's national stadium and plunged the host country into mourning. Alcides Ghiggia's goal 11 minutes from time was enough to seal one of the biggest upsets in football history, and with most of world football's superpowers having won their "home" tournament (Uruguay in 1930, Italy in 1934, England in 1966, West Germany in 1974, Argentina in 1978, France in 1998), the pressure will be on Brazil to finally lay the ghost of the Maracanazo to rest in 2014.

Arjen Robben

N - Nearly men

Widely regarded as the best team never to win the World Cup, the Netherlands have reached the final on no less than three occasions and each time come up short. The 1974 vintage was arguably the best of the lot, with the likes of Johan Cruyff, Johnny Rep and Johan Neeskens captivating the world with their brand of "total football". However, the Oranje lost to bitter rivals West Germany 2-1 in the final, despite taking an early lead through a Neeskens penalty which was awarded before their opponents had even touched the ball. Four years later a Cruyff-less Dutch side reached the final for the second time, losing to the hosts Argentina 3-1 after extra time. Their most recent failure was at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when Bert van Marwijk's side were beaten 1-0 in extra time by Spain. Vying for Holland's unwanted reputation as the "nearly men" of world football are European neighbours Hungary, who have twice fallen at the final hurdle. The Hungarians lost 3-2 to an unfancied West Germany team in 1954 in a match dubbed the "Miracle of Berne" by the press. The German victory was a huge surprise given that the "Magical Magyars" had demolished them 8-3 earlier in the tournament and had taken a 2-0 lead after just eight minutes in the final. The Hungarians were also beaten 4-2 by Italy in 1938.

O - Own goals

Mexico's Manuel Rosa was the first player to put through his own net in the inaugural 1930 World Cup in Uruguay, but no own goal has proven as costly as the one scored by Colombia's Andres Escobar at USA 1994. The defender found his own net in the 2-1 first round defeat by the hosts, costing his much-fancied team a place in the second round and ultimately, his own life. Escobar was tragically shot outside a nightclub in Medellin just weeks after his own goal by Humberto Castro Muñoz, a bodyguard and driver for one of the city's fearsome drug cartels. Drug kingpin Santiago Gallón had apparently lost a great deal of money betting on Colombia to reach the next round.

Andres Escobar

P - Penalty shootouts

"It is loading a bullet into the chamber of a gun and asking everyone to pull the trigger. Someone will get the bullet, you know that. And it will reduce them to nothing," was how former France midfielder Christian Karembeu memorably described the dreaded penalty shootout. The most nerve-wracking way possible to decide a tense stalemate, penalties are the stuff of nightmares for exhausted, mentally-drained players. Of the major footballing powers, Germany has proved the most adept at penalties, winning all four of their World Cup shootouts in 1982, 1986, 1990 and 2006. England has been comparatively hopeless from 12 yards, losing all three of their shootouts at the finals. In 1990 they bowed out at the semifinal stage after Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle succumbed to the pressure, eight years later they were eliminated in a last 16 tie with Argentina, and in 2006 a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal broke English hearts. However, England fans can take heart from perennial penalty failures Italy, who put their own shootout woes to bed in the 2006 World Cup final against France following a 1-1 draw in Berlin. The Italians had lost their previous three World Cup shootouts (1990, 1994 and 1998) making their victory at the fourth time of asking all the more sweeter.

Q - Queen, The

While watching the enthralling second round clash between England and Argentina at France 1998 from the comfort of her official Scottish residence, Queen Elizabeth II lost her customary cool. Her Majesty was widely reported to have uttered "one is not amused" when England defender Sol Campbell's "goal" was controversially ruled out by Danish referee Kim Milton Nielsen - who also sent off David Beckham in the 47th minute -  with the match between the bitter rivals tied at 2-2. However, the Queen was present at Wembley for England's finest hour in 1966, presenting the Jules Rimet trophy to captain Bobby Moore after the Three Lions' 4-2 win against West Germany. Presumably, one was more amused by that result. Though given her family's German heritage, perhaps not.

R - 'Russian linesman'

The 1966 final between England and West Germany was arguably the most dramatic decider in the tournament's history, with the destination of the World Cup trophy ultimately being determined by the officials. With the score tied at 2-2 deep into the first half of extra time, England striker Geoff Hurst unleashed a ferocious shot which bounced down off the underside of the crossbar before spinning away from goal to safety. Swiss referee Gottifried Dienst seemed unsure whether the ball had crossed the line, but was signalled over by linesman Tofiq Bahramov, who convinced him to award the goal. The German players were furious with the decision, while the English press would hail the "Russian linesman" for his role in their sole World Cup triumph. Never mind that Bahramov was actually from Azerbaijan, which was then part of the Soviet Union.

S - Spitting 

Germany and the Netherlands share an intense sporting rivalry which can be traced back to their meeting in the 1974 World Cup final, when the West Germans came from behind to inflict "The Mother of all Defeats" on their arch rivals. However, the ill-feeling between the two neighbouring countries reached a nadir at the 1990 World Cup in a second round clash at Milan's San Siro. The bad-tempered affair, which the West Germans won 2-1, is remembered for an unsavoury incident in the 22nd minute when Holland's Frank Rijkaard spat at Rudi Voller after picking up a yellow card for scything down the German striker. An enraged Voller was unjustly booked by referee Juan Carlos Loustau for confronting Rijkaard over the incident, and when the resulting free kick finally came into the box he accidentally collided with Dutch goalkeeper Hans van Breuckelen as he attempted to get on the end of the cross. Rijkaard ran over to challenge Voller, dragging him to his feet by his ear before the German fell to the floor theatrically. Loustau had clearly had enough of the feuding pair and sent both players off. Riijkaard wasn't quite finished though, unloading another gobful of phlegm into Voller's perm as he headed for the changing rooms.

Paul Gascoigne

T - Tears 

One of the most iconic moments of the 1990 World Cup came in the pulsating semifinal between England and West Germany in Turin. With the game delicately balanced at 1-1 in the first half of extra time, England's star midfielder Paul Gascoigne, or "Gazza" as he is more commonly known, threw himself into an ill-advised tackle with Thomas Berthold after overrunning the ball in midfield. Berthold rolled around in agony and lay prone on the ground as referee Jose Roberto Wright reached for a yellow card that would end Gascoigne's hopes of playing in a World Cup final. Gascoigne's disbelief quickly turned to sorrow as his bottom lip began to quiver. England striker Gary Lineker famously gestured for coach Bobby Robson to keep an eye on his emotionally fragile team-mate, who by now was red-faced and struggling to hold back tears. Indeed, Gascoigne was so distraught he was incapable of taking a penalty in the shootout. His replacement, Chris Waddle, proceeded to send his spot kick into orbit and render Gascoigne's punishment academic.

U - Unbeaten 

After being drawn in Group F with defending champions Italy, Slovakia and Paraguay, New Zealand were widely expected to be the whipping boys at the 2010 World Cup, but a last-minute header from Winston Reid secured a creditable draw in their opener with Slovakia and the All Whites' first ever point at a World Cup finals. The plucky Kiwis proved this result was no fluke when they gave the Italians an almighty scare in Nelspruit, striker Shane Smeltz putting the 2000-1 rank outsiders ahead in the seventh minute as one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history loomed. Although Vincenzo Iaquinta levelled the scores from the penalty spot on the half-hour mark, New Zealand held on for a deserved point, almost stealing all three at the death when an 18-year-old Chris Wood fired narrowly wide. An uneventful stalemate with Paraguay in Polokwane with a place in the round of 16 up for grabs could not detract from what had been an impressive showing from Ricki Herbert's unfancied side. Eventual champions Spain's shock 1-0 defeat to Switzerland in group play would mean that New Zealand had the distinction of being the only unbeaten team in South Africa.

All Whites

V - Villains

The World Cup has been littered with pantomime villains throughout its long and tumultuous history. Who can forget Luis Suarez's goal-saving handball in 2010, denying Ghana a place in the semifinals, or Diego Simeone's play-acting to get David Beckham sent off at 1998? Then there was Cristiano Ronaldo's role in winding up clubmate Wayne Rooney in a quarterfinal against England in 2006. After the hot-headed Rooney had been given his marching orders for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho, Ronaldo was caught on camera winking knowingly to the Portuguese bench, making him a persona non grata in the country where at the time he was earning a living. Referees have also been the subject of a nation's wrath, with disgraced Ecuadorean whistleblower Bryron Moreno's scarcely believable performance in a second round match between the Azzurri and South Korea in 2002 making him public enemy No 1 for some time in Italy.

W - Walkout

Former Manchester United hardman Roy Keane is not one to suffer fools gladly. Ingrained with a winning mentality from his trophy-laden years at Old Trafford, the idea of just making up the numbers at the 2002 World Cup was anathema to the fiercely competitive Irishman.  After criticising the team's preparations and training facilities in Saipan, Japan prior to the tournament ("I can't imagine any other country in the world who are far worse off than us, playing on something like that. But we're the Irish team, it's a laugh and a joke. We shouldn't expect too much," he said at the time) Keane was involved in a heated exchange with Ireland manager Mick McCarthy, with whom he had always had a testing relationship. "Who do you think you are having meetings about me?" Keane recalls telling McCarthy in his autobiography. "You were a crap player and you are a crap manager. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country and you're not even Irish, you English c***!" Unsurprisingly, McCarthy sent Keane home, and Ireland went on to reach the second round, losing to Spain on penalties.

X - X-rated assault

After dragging an ageing French side to the 2006 World Cup final, the stage was set for Zinedine Zidane to finish his glorious career by lifting the World Cup for the second time. The talismanic captain had rediscovered his mojo in the knockout phase after a sluggish start to the tournament, starring in Les Bleus' 3-1 win over Spain and setting up Thierry Henry's winner against Brazil in the quarterfinals. A Zidane penalty was enough to see off Portugal in Munich and book a place in the final against a resurgent Italy, where the three-time Fifa world player of the year could sign off in style. Everything seemed to be going according to script when Zidane put the French ahead after just seven minutes with an audacious penalty, but Italy soon equalised through a towering Marco Materazzi header. The two goalscorers would be the key protagonists in a dramatic conclusion to an uninspiring final.  In the second half of extra time after a coming together in the box, Materazzi turned to Zidane and labelled his sister a "whore." An incensed Zidane snapped and slammed his head into Materazzi's chest, sending the Italian tumbling to the ground and earning himself a straight red card.  It was an ignominious end for one of the greatest players of all time, who had to pass the World Cup trophy on his way to the changing room. To rub salt in the wounds, Italy won on penalties, with Materazzi scoring in the shootout.

Zinedine Zidane

Y - Yellow cards

Respected English whistleblower Graham Poll was seen as a leading contender to referee the 2006 World Cup final before an inept performance in a group match between Australia and Croatia put an end to that dream. Croatian defender Josip Simunic - banned by Fifa for the upcoming finals after leading a series of "pro-Nazi" chants after a World Cup playoff win - picked up two bookings, but as Poll failed to brandish a red card, the player remained on the pitch. When Simunic committed another bookable offence he was finally given his marching orders. Poll's error saw him sent home after the group stage and he never refereed another international match before retiring in May 2007.

Z - Zaire 

When Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo) appeared at the 1974 World Cup in Germany they did little to enhance the reputation of African football. After a spirited 2-0 defeat to Scotland in their opener, the Leopards suffered a humiliating 9-0 loss to Yugoslavia, a poor performance which defender Mwepu Ilunga later put down to a dispute with the Zairean FA over pay. Following the Yugoslavian debacle, Zaire's leader, the late Mobutu Sese Seko intervened in team affairs and allegedly threatened to bar the players from returning home if they lost their next game 4-0 to Brazil. The Zaireans managed to avoid that fate following a 3-0 loss, but the game is best remembered for Ilunga sprinting out of the defensive wall and kicking the ball away as Rivelino and Jairzinho dawdled over a free-kick. Although the incident was seen as comical at the time, Illunga's act was more likely borne out of desperation than ignorance of the rule book. With 85 minutes on the clock, he feared another goal would result in retribution from the country's despotic ruler and was merely trying to waste time. The African champions returned home in ignominy after failing to score a single goal and conceding 14 in three matches and have never qualified for another World Cup finals.

- Stuff

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