2014 FIFA World Cup: Final Recap

Germany finally caught the trophy they've been chasing for the past month

The soccer gods can be fickle and unfair, but sometimes they get things just right. Some may still think Brazil deserved a chance to exorcise their demons and win a World Cup on home soil, but Germany was simply the best team in the tournament and no one else was deserving of the championship title.

From front to back Germany was dominant, in the final game as in the rest of the tournament. Argentina weren’t without chances—Lionel Messi alone had three glowing chances to secure his legacy as Argentina’s greatest player—but the occasion overcame them and each attempt flew far and wide.

Early in the game Argentina conceded most of the possession, but came much closer to breaking German keeper Manuel Neuer. In the 20th minute, Gonzalo Higuain, the lone goal-scorer who lifted his team over Belgium in the quarter-final, smacked a shot wide of the goal on a clear breakaway. Toni Kroos attempted to head a pass back to his defence, but put it over their heads and right at the foot of Higuain, who bailed him out with a poorly executed attempt. Higuain thought he had atoned for his error 10 minutes later when he took a pinpoint pass from Messi and tapped it past Neuer, but he had been well offside and couldn’t rightly claim a goal.

Just before halftime Germany finally got their golden opportunity on a corner kick, when Benedikt Howedes headed the ball past Sergio Romero—the first to beat him since Argentina’s final group game against Nigeria—but the ball struck woodwork and, by the time it ricocheted off Thomas Muller and back toward the goal line, Muller was offside and the chance had passed.

On the other side of halftime, Messi, perhaps lighter after having lost his lunch on the pitch in the first half, managed to sneak behind the German defence for a clear shot, but curled it away from the far post.

There was little offence to be found for either team in the rest of the second half, so extra time was needed to settle things. Andre Schurrle nearly put his team ahead just seconds in, teeing off toward the Argentine net but again being foiled by Romero, who swatted the ball away like a pesky fly. Ninety seconds later Sergio Aguero mimicked Messi’s miss, rolling a shot toward the German goal but curling it the wrong direction. In the 97th minute Rodrigo Palacio had a chance to chip a shot over a charging Neuer, but lifted it over the goal.

It took until the 112th minute of the game, but Germany finally found the goal they needed. Schurrle made a run down the left flank, finding just enough room to fit a cross in to Mario Goetze. The midfielder, who wasn’t even born when Germany won their last World Cup in 1990, controlled with his chest and poked a volley too quick and too true for Romero to deny.

Argentina weren’t prepared to give up, though, and Messi found opportunity for a header on their next trip down the field, bumping it just over the crossbar. Then, like something out of a movie, Messi lined up a free kick with no time left in the game—usually composed and surgical with his set pieces, he missed high by a mile, putting the final pin in the balloon of Argentina’s World Cup hopes.

Messi will take no consolation in his Golden Ball trophy as the tournament’s best player—it’s just another fixture for a very full mantle and another reminder of the one honour missing from his resume. Neuer will have to clear a large space for his Golden Glove after being named the top keeper, while young superstar-in-waiting James Rodriguez earned the Golden Boot for his six goals in five games.

But Germany have the only trophy that matters, the one that only the best teams get to have, and in this World Cup they were the best of the best.

Tags: World Cup 2014

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