Early returns: Brazil 2014 could be great

Netherlands' forward Robin van Persie scores during a Group B football match between Spain and the...

Netherlands' forward Robin van Persie scores during a Group B football match between Spain and the Netherlands at the Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 13, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/LLUIS GENE)

KURTIS LARSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:55 PM ET

SALVADOR, Brazil -- Finally, the moment we've all been waiting for: A mundane match at the 2014 World Cup.

And it was the one we all circled prior to the tournament: Iran-Nigeria, goalless.

But until Monday night's draw between the aforementioned sides, this tournament has played out more like something you'd see in video games.

Ridiculous score lines, bogus calls and the world's best players doing superhuman things -- stuff normal reserved for the big screen.

Like Dutchman Robin van Persie's audacious diving header in a 5-1 rout over Spain.

Or Messi slicing through the final third before bending a goal through a bunch of Bosnian defenders.

It feels like you could already produce an entire post-World Cup highlight package after one round of games.

Heck, even Monday night's draw between the Asian and African qualifiers wasn't that bad.

But why?

Why is this World Cup looking poised to be one of the best of the modern era?

After all, this was a World Cup that was supposed to be ruined by heat and humidity, slowed to a crawl in a tropical climate and marred by violence, the likes of which this tournament has never seen.

Instead, the opposite has been true. The games have been played at an unparalleled pace inside boisterous venues and there's been much goal production.

Goals.

And more goals.

A goal-per-game more than in 2010, actually.

And what about the quality of those goals? As mentioned, van Persie's floating header will likely go down as the best in the tournament when it's all said and done.

But Switzerland's stoppage-time winner in Brasilia was as big a moment as any.

And if Oscar Duarte's game-winner for Costa Rica didn't lift you out of your seat, check your pulse.

Then again, if Costa Rica's battle-back performance against Uruguay didn't have you fixated in general, then you might not be a fan of sport.

Because fans of any sport love an upset -- a come-from-behind performance.

So far in this, the most exciting World Cup in recent memory, five countries have come from behind to win opening Group games. It's unprecedented.

Two other minnows -- Australia and Bosnia -- were inches away from pulling off two more shocking results over the weekend.

To that end, the opening game of the tournament nearly produced an unthinkable result before Croatia was unjustly penalized. But even that is something every major tournament can't go without.

Like it or not, controversy keeps us interested. It gets us talking for days on end.

People here in Salvador are still talking about the dive that rescued them in the opening game.

One newspaper here even thanked the Japanese referee who awarded Brazil a controversial, game-winning penalty with a massive headline the next day: Arigato!

And that's what makes it all that much better.

This World Cup, this tournament of non-stop excitement, has been played out in a nation that appreciates the sport like few others.

The stadiums are brilliant, the crowds big and the beaches make the backdrop of this event all the more special.

The only concern now is that the second round of group games, beginning with Brazil-Mexico on Tuesday, will be compared to an opening set of matches that might be impossible to emulate.

That said, when the world's top players -- Messi, Thomas Muller, Neymar, Karim Benzema and Andrea Pirlo -- are all at the top of their games, it's possible the best is yet to come.

Now then, if Cristiano Ronaldo can get his Portuguese side on track, things might get even better.

After watching Portugal get blown out by Germany here in Salvador on Monday, that would offer up yet another surprise in what has been a hair-raising competition so far.

*Messi goal GIF via @myregularface of GIFgoldmine.com


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