The Netherlands' 2-1 win over Mexico on Sunday, a game played in 90-degee heat and high humidity, was the first World Cup game in which pre-planned cooling breaks were observed.
Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca stopped the game about half an hour into each half to allow the players to rehydrate. Given the intense winter weather in parts of Brazil, tournament organizers suggested three-minute "cooling breaks" be implemented when the temperatures top 90 degrees.
Dutch Coach Louis van Gaal said the pause also figured into his game strategy, with the Netherlands subbing in Klaas Jan Huntelaar to coincide with the second-half pause. Twelve minutes later Wesley Sneijder scored the tying goal for the Dutch and four minutes into stoppage time Huntelaar scored the game-winner on a penalty kick.
"I changed my tactics during the cooling break. Yes, it was an advantage," said van Gaal, who had requested the pauses before the game.
"When we had this cooling break, it was when we could start with Plan B. I knew we were going to have this cooling break. We trained for this."
The U.S.-Portugal game in Manaus also included a pause for water late in the first half, but that came during an injury break when the referee allowed players, including both goalkeepers, to retire to their benches for fluids.
Germany's Loew safe – for now
Few coaches came into this World Cup facing more pressure than Germany's Joachim Loew, whose team faces Algeria in the second round Monday.
Although the Germans made it to semifinals under Loew four years ago and have reached the final four in the last three World Cups, it's been 24 years since they won it. That's the country's longest World Cup title drought.
But Wolfgang Niersbach, president of Germany's soccer federation, told Stern magazine that Loew's contract has already been extended through 2016.
"We still have the clear intention of carrying on with him," Niersbach said. "There are no clauses in his contract which state that it depends on certain results.
"The way we have developed has been fantastic. Previously, we were getting recognition for our results while now we're getting a great degree of recognition for our style of play."
Twittering over Brazil
The final minute of Brazil's tense penalty-shootout win over Chile on Saturday produced more activity on social media than February's Super Bowl.
Almost 389,000 tweets were generated in the minute after Chilean defender Gonzalo Jara's penalty shot hit the right post and allowed Brazil to avoid an early exit from the World Cup.
At the peak of the Seattle Seahawks' Super Bowl win over the Denver Broncos, Twitter traffic reached 382,000. Overall the Super Bowl inspired 24.9 million tweets, more than Saturday's World Cup record of 16.4 million.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun