2. Tim Krul Comes in Cold, Stops Costa Rica
While the idea of putting in a bigger goalkeeper for penalty kicks makes sense in theory, it’s practically unheard of for a team to actually do it. Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal decided to roll the dice, though, prior to the Dutch’s penalty kick shootout against Costa Rica by inserting backup goalkeeper Tim Krul for starter Jasper Cillessen. The gamble paid off, as Krul—who saved just two of 20 penalty kicks during his club season last year—stopped two of Costa Rica’s five spot kicks and sent his team into the Semifinals.
9 of 10
1. Mario Götze’s World Cup-Winning Goal
Just before bringing on Mario Götze as a substitute in the 88th minute of the World Cup Final, Germany coach Joachim Löw told the striker to “show you are better than Messi.” Well, he may not be better than Messi most days, but in the Final Götze did just as his coach instructed. This magnificent play would have been a wonderful goal in any scenario, but the fact that the strike came in the 113th minute of the World Cup Final makes it as clutch a goal as any player can score. No matter what the 22-year-old does from here on out, this Cup-winning moment will make him a German hero for the rest of his life.
10 of 10
As we start our look back on the 2014 FIFA World Cup, we can begin to reflect on what a truly incredible month it was. Established stars like Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben delivered at the most vital of times, and players like Tim Howard and Guillermo Ochoa stepped up for their teams and vaulted themselves into global icon status. It was a tournament with a healthy dose of magical finishes and heroic performances, and in terms of pure entertainment value must go down as one of the greatest World Cups in history.
As we start to come to grips with the reality that we won’t get another one for four more years, let’s take a look back at the most clutch moments of this year’s World Cup.
Follow Doug on Twitter at @dcsibor