The atmosphere was euphoric and the noise was deafening as Argentina took on Germany, in order to be crowned World Champions. Germany started with young Kramer while Di Maria and Aguero started from the bench. The stadium that was being overlooked by Christ the Redeemer was covered in the Albiceleste’s white & blue stripes and Germany’s white and red. It was set to be a cracking game and we were in for a treat.
The game started in a way where none of the teams were willing to take the upper hand. There was far too much at stake and the much expected midfield battle was taking its course. Khedira-Schweinsteiger versus Mascherano-Biglia. However, Argentina looked dangerous from the flanks with Enzo Perez looking the best. An emotional moment occurred when young Christoph Kramer, who had just become a World Cup finalist was brought off due to an injury with just 20 minutes played, he was replaced by Andre Schurrle. The chances were sparring and the arguably the easiest opportunity of the game fell to Higuain after Kroos’ header backwards fell in the former’s path. He was one on one with the aeons of time and he managed to shoot wide. Inexplicable. Another chance fell to the South Americans, as Perez’s cross was tapped in by Higuain. The stadium burst into excitement and Higuain started running felicitously only to be cut short abruptly with an offside flag. The score stood at 0-0. The game was filled with passes and moves, only for the teams lacking that killer pass in the final third. Klose was okay, Lavezzi went down at everything. Kroos was not in his element, and Messi missed an absolute sitter. Schurrle could’ve had a penalty, but it was a debatable decision. If this Germany had beaten Brazil 7-1, then Argentina were definitely superior side. At halftime the game was still deadlocked and a sense of Deja Vu overcome the World Cup finals, with some reminiscence of that night at Soccer City, in 2010.
The second half brought more of the physical display we saw and more domination of possession rather than chances. With the way the match was going, the 3rd place playoff was a much better game to watch. The oomph moment of the half came when Manuel Neuer played his role as a sweeper perfectly and his job as a kung-fu master even better. As he went cleared the ball from near the edge of the penalty area and kneed Higuain right in the cheekbone in the process.
There were chances for both teams, but they lacked composure and bottled all the chances, still locking horns with each other. Bastian Schweinsteiger, who had been the best player of the game yet, saved Germany with an effective last ditch tackle. Miroslav Klose was brought off and said goodbye to the world, leaving as the top scorer in World Cups. On came Borussia Dortmund legend Mario Gotze, who had had a subpar tournament as yet, with just one goal. 90 minutes were not enough to find a goal, and we would head into extra time. The 3rd time in a row.
Penalties was a possibility and that thought started to make way into the minds of the players. The fatigue set in, the players began to look jaded and the pressure on each player out there went up just a notch. The arrival of Gotze was most opportune, as he answered the call and gave Germany what they were lacking. Tenacity and pace, he was linking up very efficiently with Schurrle, only for Golden Glove candidate, Romero to make an amazing reflex save to deny Schurrle to keep the scores level, while on the other end, Palacio missed a glorious opportunity. There was one thing certain, Bastian Schweinsteiger is a true fighter. After a collision, he found himself bleeding below his eyes and went out and got stitched up and returned. 112 minutes were played and this game needed some magic. Maybe Messi could provide that. But actually, it was the German Messi who gave us the golden touch and the golden moment. After Andre Schurrle paced the left flank, his cross found Super Mario Gotze unmarked and the Bayern Munchen man, took one sublime touch to control the ball and an even better finish to follow. The ball zoomed past Romero and Germany was ahead. Mario Gotze, elevated himself into the elite and became a German legend with that one moment of genius, at the age of 22. Messi was distraught. Zabaleta shell shocked. The match went on for a little while before Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli blew for full time and the Maracana went berzerk. Germany were World Champions. Joachim Low had finally done it.
Mario Gotze was the hero of the moment and would remember this night for the rest of his life. Argentina might have been more clinical in their chances, but were wasteful and could not do the damage when it really mattered. As Gary Lineker very right stated – Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win. Although it took them a little “extra time”, it was worth it. Mascherano was inconsolable and Messi stood there with a blank expression. Germany deserved to win the game, they deserved to win the tournament. An unbeaten run that ended with them as winners and kings of the world. On a day when Argentina needed their front 4 the most, they disappointed heavily. That being said, Argentina were immense and must take pride in their display at Brazil this month. To lose in a final of such a stature is heart wrenching, but if you have to lose, you may as well lose to a goal of such quality.
Germany created history, becoming the first UEFA nation to win a World Cup on South American soil. They also created history in another way, as they became the 3rd UEFA nation to win the World Cup in a row (Italy ‘06 and Spain ‘10). The honours were complete. Lionel Messi won the Golden Ball undeservingly..(Muller – Silver Ball, Robben – Bronze Ball) and Neuer won the Golden Glove, and only a fool would say he didn’t deserve it. As much as we hated Messi going to collect the prize, we loved how he walked back down with his head held down and in complete agony. The Germans were glorious and very humble, consoling the Argentinians as they made way to collect their silver medals. But it was party time for Joachim Low and his team as Germany won their first FIFA World Cup since reunification. They celebrated in style and a mention to Mario Gotze who held a Reus #21 jersey as they posed for their official picture with the trophy. A superb gesture on his part, as the BVB man was still there in spirit although he could not make it due to injury. The tournament came to an end, and a part of died inside. It had been a brilliant one, which had everything and even deserving winners. Congratulations to Germany and our sincerest commiserations to Argentina. Russia 2018, FootballsToYou awaits eagerly.
FIFA Man Of The Match: Mario Götze
Came on for Klose in the 88th minute and made the difference when he chested down and smashed home the winner in the 113th minute of the World Cup finals. If there was one man we’d want to be tonight, it’d be Mario Götze.
Our Man Of The Match: Bastian Schweinsteiger
Comfortable in possession and retained the ball well. Kept play ticking over in deep areas, allowing for Germany’s attack to slowly gain momentum. He was the pivot in Germany’s midfield and made some crucial tackles and we saw what a fighter he is after he got a stitch on his face and continued playing the biggest game of his life
Our Flop Of The Match: Gonzalo Higuaín
Missed a golden opportunity after being played in behind enemy lines accidentally by Kroos, also seeing a first-half goal ruled out for offside. Wasteful and outmatched physically by Hummels and could not link up well with Lionel Messi either. Disappointing tournament for the striker, where he got only one goal to his name.