Messi Receives FIFA’s Golden Ball Award After This Year’s World Cup

World Cup 2014

Despite a heartbreaking loss in the World Cup final, Lionel Messi is still a golden boy.

The soccer star and captain of the Argentina national team was awarded FIFA‘s Golden Ball award as the best player of the FIFA World Cup after leading his team to Sunday’s final.

Lionel Messi

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who kept a clean sheet as his side beat Argentina 1-0 in extra time at the Maracana to claim their fourth World Cup, was awarded the Golden Gloves as the tournament’s top keeper.

“It is a sad prize that I won because we wanted to lift the trophy for Argentina,” Messi said of his consolation prize, as if the look on his face had not already said it all.

Four-times World Player of the Year Messi had a quiet game by his standards on Sunday but was the driving force behind Argentina’s push to their first World Cup final since 1990.

He scored four of their six goals in the group stage, set up Angel di Maria‘s winner in the last 16 against Switzerland and shouldered the burden of slotting home Argentina’s first penalty in their shootout win over the Netherlands in the semi-finals.

Messi also won four successive man-of-the-match awards against Bosnia, Iran, Argentina and Switzerland.

While some pundits thought Messi looked jaded after the group stage and did not influence his team as much, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said he was a deserving winner.

“I think Lionel reached the pantheon of the greats a while back,” Sabella told reporters. “Yes, I think he deserved it. He played a great World Cup to get us where he did.

“I think it’s very deserved.”

Germany forward Thomas Mueller was runner-up to Messi and Netherlands winger Arjen Robben was third.

France midfielder Paul Pogba was named young player of the tournament, while Colombia took the Fair Play Award after receiving just five yellow cards in five matches in Brazil.

FIFA also praised their positive play and the behavior of their players and officials.

Romero Saves Two Penalty Kicks to Help Argentina Reach the FIFA World Cup Final

World Cup 2014

Sergio Romero is the man of the moment…

The 27-year-old Argentine footballer has earned a hero’s welcome in his native country after his impressive performance in the penalty shootout after Argentina and the Netherlands were tied 0-0 at the end of extra time.

Sergio Romero

Romero, the goalkeeper for his team, saved penalty kicks by Holland’s Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder. Argentina’s Maxi Rodriguez put away the winning kick, sending Argentina to its first FIFA World Cup final in 24 years.

The last time a World Cup semifinal was decided by penalty kicks was 1998 when Netherlands played Brazil. Brazil won that encounter.

Argentina will face off against Germany in the final, which will be played Sunday in Rio’s Estadio Maracana.

This will be the third time Argentina and Germany will meet in the ‪World Cup final. Germany won in 1990. Argentina won in 1986.

Navas & His Costa Rican Teammates’ World Cup Run Comes to a Close Against the Netherlands

World Cup 2014

Keylor Navas and his Costa Rican teammates came thisclose to pulling off one of the biggest ever FIFA World Cup shocks.

The 27-year-old Costa Rican footballer and his fellow Los Ticos teammates gave the Netherlands an almighty scare, keeping the Dutch scoreless, denying stars like Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder any glory at every turn.

Keylor Navas

The Netherlands may have dominated all but the first 20 of the 120 minutes of the intense game,  hitting the woodwork, reining in shot after shot and creatingchance after chance, but still couldn’t find a way past the Los Ticos goalkeeper, who has been the hero of his country and looks to be a major contender to win the Golden Gloves award for best keeper of the tournament.

But Costa Rica and Navas’ luck would eventually run out in the penalty shootout.

With seconds left in extra time and penalties looming, Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal made World Cup history by taking out his number one, Jasper Cillessen, and replacing him with Newcastle custodian Tim Krul.

Krul didn’t let his boss down, saving two of Costa Ricas’ penalty shots to ensure that his team advanced.

Navas had kept clean sheets against England and Italy, conceded only from the penalty spot against Uruguay, and had then produced a wonderful save in the shootout against Greece to ensure the outsiders’ place in the last eight. It will be scant consolation to him or his colleagues, but history will record that he kept a clean sheet again this time.

The Levante goalkeeper was at it again throughout this match where the men in orange held sway but simply could not find a way past the Tico keeper.

Navas made numerous saves, diving to his right, diving bravely at the feet of onrushing attackers, saving with his own feet: it seemed that however the Dutch tried to breach his goal they would not succeed.

The Netherlands’ win over Costa Rica set up a World Cup semifinal meeting with Argentina next Wednesday in Sao Paulo.