So the formalities are over, and the biggest stage of all awaits: the World Cup Final.
Germany and Argentina will do battle for the third time, with the winner taking the glory and the loser left to reflect on what might have been. It's the ultimate test for any player, so who will step up to the plate and deliver for their country?
We've picked the ten greatest goals scored in the 19 finals so far; will Messi or Muller score a goal worthy of this list in the Maracana? We'll soon find out - in the meantime enjoy these great strikes.
10. Andres Iniesta (Spain v Holland, 2010)
A goal built from the back, originating from Spain's right-back position, it needed a few dashes of good fortune along the way to keep the move going, but when it finally reached Iniesta, the finish was emphatic. Holland had tried to spoil and kick Spain out of the tournament - and it nearly worked - but one moment of class was all it took to hand the tiki-taka masters their first World Cup.
9. Emmanuel Petit (France v Brazil, 1998)
After two Zidane headers had powered France in front against an out-of-sorts Brazil, all that was left was for Emmanuel Petit to deliver the coup de gras and, much like Tardelli's effort, this was a beautifully worked counter-attacking goal. A stylish finish from the Frenchman which sealed their first World Cup triumph.
8. Jorge Burruchaga (Argentina v West Germany, 1986)
Argentina had suffered the agony of losing a two goal lead as the West Germans fought their way back into the 1986 final. But they didn't panic, as Maradona took out three players with an utterly sublime first-time pass into the path of Jorge Burruchaga, who powered on and made no mistake against the onrushing Schumacher. Victory was theirs.
7. Zito (Brazil v Czechoslovakia, 1962)
Two of Brazil's three goals against Czechoslovakia could be put down to errors from the unfortunate Czech 'keeper Viliam Schrojf (who otherwise had a sublime tournament), but there was nothing lucky about Zito's effort - a beautiful team goal featuring a surging run, a great cutback, a floated cross and a tidy header. Even without Pelé - out injured for this tournament - Brazil had a few useful players.
6. Geoff Hurst (England v West Germany, 1966)
What's lost in all the accompanying fanfare - the fact it was a hat-trick goal, the famous Kenneth Wolstenholme commentary, the fact that it was the winner - is that Geoff Hurst's last minute goal was an absolute pearler of a strike. The German defence may have left him a big gap, but Hans Tilkowski didn't stand a chance as the ball sailed past him. The modest Hurst claimed that he was only trying to hit it as hard as possible into the stand to waste some time and it bobbled up off a divot; we think it was a great strike.
5. Silvio Piola (Italy v Hungary, 1938)
The 1938 final saw a breathless start, with Italy going ahead after six minutes, only to be pegged back by a Hungary equaliser two minutes later. They retook the lead, though, with this tremendous team goal. Much like Wenger's Arsenal, you could argue that they tried to walk the ball into the net - who knows why the guy in the middle didn't shoot when eight yards from goal and in space - but their patience paid off with a tremendous finish into the top corner from Silvio Piola. The Italians eventually triumphed 4-2, successfully defending the trophy they'd won four years earlier.
4. Zinedine Zidane (France v Italy 2006)
Of course, it was to be overshadowed by his subsequent - still astonishing - display of violence towards Marco Materazzi, but after seven minutes, the Frenchman was calm personified. Stepping up to take a penalty in the World Cup Final - the biggest occasion of all - absolutely no one was expecting a dainty, Panenka effort, but that's what he did, clipping it nonchalantly in off the underside of the crossbar. It landed just a foot over the line, but that was enough to put the French ahead.
3. Pelé (Brazil v Sweden, 1958)
A 17-year-old Pelé was the star of the show in Sweden and this goal, which put Brazil 3-1 up, showed a skill and maturity that belied his years, controlling a cross on his chest, lofting the ball over an opponent before smashing it home on the volley. A stunning goal by the greatest player of all time.
2. Marco Tardelli (Italy v West Germany, 1982)
Like Geoff Hurst's winner, the quality of Tardelli's goal has often been (perhaps understandably) overshadowed by the amazing, emotional celebration that followed. In truth, it was a wonderful counter-attacking goal, featuring a Cruyff turn, a backheel, a flick and Tardelli setting himself up for a glorious strike at full stretch, which left Schumacher stationary on the six-yard line.
1. Carlos Alberto (Brazil v Italy, 1970)
What a staggeringly brilliant goal. It started with striker Tostao in the left-back position, it passed through all but two of Brazil's outfield players, Clodoaldo dribbled it past four hapless Italians in his own half and that man Pelé stroked one of the most beautiful and calm passes ever into the path of the express train Carlos Alberto who smashed an unstoppable shot into the corner. FIFA awarded it the title of the most beautiful goal in World Cup history - it's hard to argue.