Lionel Messi, Andrea Pirlo, Neymar. The best players in the world have already shown a spark of their brilliance. These are our highlights so far:
#1: Messi lights up the Maracanã
Sometimes it cannot get better: Lionel Messi scoring a superb solo golazo at the holy temple of football called Maracanã.
‘God is Maradona, the Pope is Francisco, Messi is the King‘ said one banner in the Maracanã, and it is fitting that the return of the World Cup to this famous stadium after a 64-year absence will be remembered by a goal worthy of any of that holy trinity from Argentina’s captain.
Picking up the ball with Bosnia players blocking his path, Messi played a one-two with substitute Gonzalo Higuain and then embarked on one of those trademark runs across the area, leaving defenders flailing in his wake before slotting a low shot in off the post.
#2: Neymar shines in opener
He’s their best player, best talent, biggest star. Biggest hope. Hope of a nation. A nation that puts pressure but that also believes. Believes in the title, in the joy. Brazil believes in their golden boy Neymar.
The hopes of a whole nation lay on the shoulders of this 22-year-old phenom and like with all fairy tales he had to be the one to bring them back in the game. As all superstars must, he eventually rose to the occasion, scored two goals, and gave Brazil the so important opening win against Croatia.
#3: Van Persie’s header goal will go down in history
While teams have dominated in their openers, no one was able to play quite like Holland, as they came away with easily the biggest win through the first week of games. Not only were they able to take down arguably the top contender in Spain, but they blew them out of the water, winning 5-1.
Highlight was the stunning goal that will live long in the memory – Robin van Persie soaring through the air to head Holland level in their World Cup opener against defending champions Spain.
#4: Pirlo at his masterful best
Andrea Pirlo is not very fast, and he is not very strong, and he walked off the pitch after the game looking drawn, close to spent. In a purely physical sense, he is neither the man nor the player he used to be. And yet in other ways, he is better than he ever was.
He still played a huge part in the flow of the game against Engeland, dummied the ball beautifully for the opening goal and smacked the crossbar with an amazing late free-kick. His movement off the ball, control under pressure and ability to keep picking passes late on in the match was exemplary.
#5: Uruguay need savior Suárez
Uruguay were disappointing in their opener against Costa Rica, failing to kick on after taking the lead and eventually succumbing to the minnow side 3-1.
There was little movement, little ingenuity and absolutely no killer instinct. Oscar Tabarez will have to hope Luis Suárez can provide all of that in spades. And if one player can make the difference on the pitch, it is him.