Germany – Argentina
The highly anticipated final of the 2014 tournament didn’t deliver the highs we were lead to expect by the rest of the fixtures we’ve seen. There was a chance we might have a new World Cup Finals goal tally record to top the 1998 France tournament but at half-time it was obvious this was going to be a cagey affair with both sides trying not to concede more than they were looking to score early on.
Higuain had his lights temporarily switched off when Neuer came tearing off his line to clear a high bouncing ball at the edge of his area and flattened the Argentinian. Sabella pulled Higuain at half-time in favour of Aguero after the former had missed a chance to open the scoring from a poorly directed back pass from Kroos.
World Cup debutant Christoph Kramer was knocked out by a rather rugged shoulder charge in the penalty area by Garay which went unpunished. Andre Schurle was his replacement and he had Germany’s best chance of the first half, Romero saving smartly.
Mascherano was his usual robust, bustling self and probably the best player for the team in blue and white over the last few games, most notably making a block against Robben in the semi. Messi created more than he had chances of his own but in a final it doesn’t matter who scores as long as you win, or so said Loew before the game.
Germany’s best chance was a header that hit the post from a corner. Höwedes rising the highest, the rebound hitting Muller in an offside position. At the other end Messi tried to curl one of his trademark left foot shots from outside the area but missed by several feet.
The Germans played the better football. Neater, smarter, clinical passing but Argentina created more clear chances on the break. Messi and Higuain making Boateng, Hummels and Neuer work harder than Romero, Demichelis and Garay in regulation time. And so the final became the 8th fixture to go to extra time which equals the record of the 1990 finals.
The first 15 minutes were played almost all towards the Argentina goal with a few half chances but nothing that made anyone hold their head in disbelief. The tackles continued to fly in recklessly and a few yellow cards were dished out. 4 minutes into the second period Agüero punched Schweinsteiger in the face while leaping for a ball the shorter player would never reach. Schweinsteiger went off for stitches, blood streaming down his face, Agüero carried on unpunished.
In the 88th minute World Cup record holder Miroslav Klose was replaced by the youngster Mario Götze. In 112th minute the Bayern kid controlled a wicked cross from Schürrle on his chest on the edge of the 6 yard box and with the composure of a player many years his senior buried it in the bottom right corner past a helpless Romero. The tournament record of 171 goals of 1998 equaled! Germany are the champions for the 4th time.
Golden glove: Manuel Neuer
Golden ball: Lionel Messi, maybe not the best choice as he sulked all the way up the stairs to collect it
Golden boot: James Rodriguez 6 goals/5games