1 of 17
Rodrigo Abd, Associated Press
In this Tuesday, June 10, 2014 photo, a street performer dressed as a Brazilian national soccer team player, balances a ball on his head during his presentation in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil. Brazil kicked off its home World Cup with a football-style Carnival Thursday, June 12, before thousands of dancing yellow-clad fans, who seemed eager to put construction delays and protests behind them.

After weeks of anxiety over last-minute preparations, the World Cup finally got underway in Brazil, and there was action and surprises for all.

As expected Brazil defeated Croatia in the opening game of the tournament, with Neymar scoring the opening goal.

Then the Netherlands shocked many by demolishing the reigning champion, Spain, with the combined determination and talent of Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben. Van Persie scoring one of the most beautiful goals ever.

Fans around the globe were taken to rapturous heights and nerve-wracking lows as they watched their national teams confront each other on the pitch.

Some Brazilians took to the streets to continue their protests over the high cost of putting on the World Cup.

This gallery was curated by photo editor Leslie Mazoch in Mexico City.