RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- Now that the group stages are done you’ll get everyone’s opinion on the best from that portion of the tournament.
The list of top players will include Brazil’s Neymar, Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, German forward Thomas Muller and, of course, the incomparable Argentine wizard Lionel Messi.
There will be the list of the most disappointing teams headed by Portugal, England, Spain and Italy.
The nastiest, dirtiest and most vile incident should be unanimous, and that honour will go to the Biting Man, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez for chewing on Italian Giorgio Chiellini.
There will be an argument about the best game of the tournament so far. It will likely come down to Argentina’s 3-2 win over Nigeria, which was the best 90-minute game of the tournament; or Germany’s 2-2 tie with Ghana, which was far and away the best half of soccer in the tournament.
Picking a surprise team will be difficult, considering how many there have been, but Costa Rica would have to be far and away the team least likely to be where they are.
What about the goal of the tournament? You’ll get votes for Muller’s winner against the United States or Robin Van Persie’s header early on against Portugal.
But because of the situation and pressure, it would be difficult to vote against Messi’s curling blast in the 90th minute from the edge of the box against Iran, giving Argentina a 1-0 win.
The worst coaching job thus far would go to Russia’s Fabio Capello, while the best would be Costa Rica’s Jorge Luis Pinto because you have to have done a great job in order to win a group with Uruguay, Italy and England, as bad as those teams were.
That’s the standard stuff that comes after one phase of a World Cup is done and another begins.
But the World Cup is much more than the best goal, best team, and best player on the pitch. Those pictures are obvious for all to see.
A World Cup is a bounty of tiny -- and not so tiny -- pictures that go beyond the physical. Those pictures are the broth to what the players produce on the field. No broth and the soup is but a dry bowl of ingredients.
The World Cup is about people and passion. The best moments on the field are memorialized on film and pictures. The moments that capture the soul are memorialized forever in the hearts and minds of people who live them.
In the hot, humid climate of Manaus, three days into the tournament, England played Italy. In a bar just outside the stadium there were a group of individuals drinking beer.
Two of them were dressed as Templar Knights. Two of the others were the dressed in traditional Italian dress with old fashioned hat with a feather worn by the Alpini, troops who were specialists in the Alps.
They had their arms around each other.
Then there’s the moment national anthems were made for. Anthems are not meant to be played before every hootenanny played between two teams. Anthems are meant to be played at world championships when every player and fan is bursting with pride.
Listen to the anthems and watch the athletes if you really want to find the true meaning of love for one’s country.
Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon does the same thing during every national anthem. He closes his eyes and belts out Fratelli d’Italia without a sign of self-consciousness.
And it doesn’t matter what nationality you are, when La Marseillaise is sung by the French, shivers roll through your body.
An American forward will be remembered as the poster boy for determination and toughness.
American Clint Dempsey was the recipient of a shin to the face in a confrontation with Ghana defender John Boye in the first half of their game.
The broken nose would have sidelined many players but Dempsey continued to play, never shying away from a tackle.
In the same game John Brooks came into the game as a substitute. At the time, he was as close to the ultimate Who Dat player as there is. Yet, with five minutes left in the game, he had headed home the winner for the Americans.
The goal was stunning, but the expression captured by television and pictures of Brooks’ unabated joy and disbelief is what will be imprinted in history.
But there was no greater moment in the first round than watching Algerian fans die a thousand deaths as their team fought Russia for the right to move on to the second round.
Even with 10 minutes to go in the game, Algerian fans were already in tears watching their team try to hold on. Many held their hands up in supplication to a supreme being.
It was almost haunting.
Great athletic moments will be discussed over and over again. But moments that bring true joy and inspiration stay with us forever.