Germany won the World Cuo for the 4th time at the expense of Lionel Messi and Argentina, with a late heartbreaking goal from Bayern Munich’s Mario Gotze.
In a match billed as the best attacking force of the tournament in Germany against the best defensive unit in Argentina, the match panned out to be a 120 minute battle of guts, passion and industry under balmy conditions at the iconic Maracana stadium. It will be a momentous occasion for a German side, that has come so close in recent international tournaments.
Germany were dealt an early blow as Sami Khedira was ruled out due to a knock he took during warm up, which meant a first start for Borussia Moenchengladback midfielder Christoph Kramer. Argentina had no concerns with their selection process, apart from the injury to Real Madrid star Angel di Maria, which ruled him out from the semi-final win over Netherlands as well.
The first chance of the match fell to the Argentine’s, when Gonzalo Higuain almost capitalized on a wayward header by Toni Kroos. With only Neuer to beat, the Napoli forward’s effort was poor, and he dragged his effort wide, under pressure from Mats Hummels. Higuain, however thought he had redeemed himself after putting the ball in the back of the net, after a right wing cross from PSG winger Ezequiel Lavezzi. He was called back for offside, even though he had already wheeled off in celebration.
Germany enjoyed majority of the possession, but it was Argentina who seemed to be creating the better chances. The immense Jerome Boateng had to make a vital clearance, after the pacy Messi almost set up one of his teammates for a shot on target. Germany were dealt a blow when Christoph Kramer, in for Sami Khedira on the night, took a knock, and had to be replaced. Surprisingly, Joachim Low decided to replace him with a forward, in Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle.
The Blues forward almost stamped his arrival in the game with a goal, a sharp effort which required in-form Argentina keeper Sergio Romero to make a vital save, with Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil blocking his line of view. The last chance of the first half was when Schalke 04 left-back Benedikt Howedes’ header off a Kroos corner struck the woodwork, leaving Romero with no chance.
Lionel Messi could have scored what would have been the winner in the second half, but his effort on his normally dangerous left foot, was a tame one. In a match riddled with physical challenges, Manuel Neuer almost did a Harald Schumacher on Gonzalo Higuain, with a dangerous jump to punch away the ball, in the 56th minute.
Mesut Ozil then set up an onrushing Toni Kroos with an effort to put the ball behind the net, but the Bayern man’s effort was wide. Higuain was replaced by Inter’s Rodrigo Palacio in the 78th minute, and he had a chance to put his side ahead in extra time, but his first touch was poor, and Germany managed to avert the danger.
The sucker punch came in the 113th minute, as Andre Schurrle made his way past Argentine pressure to deliver a perfect cross to Mario Gotze, who chested the ball with perfection, and put it in the back of the net, leaving Romero with no chance. As the German’s wheeled away in delight, Argentina’s players collapsed all around them. It was too little, too late.
Germany secured their 4th World Cup win, to put a 18 year old wait for an international trophy to an end. With German chancellor Angela Merkel, football legends Pele, Michel Platini and Lothar Mathaus (you may have noticed I didn’t mention David Beckham. It’s intentional) and dignitaries such as Vladimir Putin present, it was a star-studded end to a fantastic tournament.
Manuel Neuer picked up the Golden Glove and a crestfallen Lionel Messi the Golden Ball, before the moment Germany have been waiting for so long arrived, as Philip Lahm lifted the World Cup trophy in front of a packed Maracana. The party continued into the night for the German fans, who stayed till late to enjoy the celebrations, but for the Argentine faithful, it was a painful trip back home, having come so far.
This win also ended Europe’s jinx in World Cups held in South America, and also marked the succesful completion of an overhaul of the German youth system, since the Euro 2004 debacle, which saw them crashing out in the Group stages.
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