World Cup 2014: Day 33 (Final report)

Germany lifted the World Cup for the fourth time on Sunday night as they overcame Argentina 1-0 in Brazil to claim the win. Over 74,000 packed into the Maracanã to watch the showpiece event, while an estimation of over 1 billion tuned in to catch the game. Although Brazil have lifted the trophy a record 5 times, Germany became the first European team ever to win the tournament in the Americas, while also drawing level with Italy on 4 title wins. There was no doubting that the Germans came into the game as favourites after their 7-1 annihilation of Brazil in the semi-finals, but their preperations were dealt a blow in the warm-up when Real Madrid man Sami Khedira picked up an injury, forcing Joachim Löw to call upon Borussia Mönchengladbach man Christoph Kramer for his first ever World Cup start.

As expected, when the game started the Argentinians looked happy to try and hit Germany on the break, with Higuaín getting a chance early on but dragging his shot wide, while Messi began creating problems for Höwedes down the wing, but Schweinsteiger was on hand to prevent the chance. At the other end, record breaking striker Miroslav Klose then went close to opening the scoring from a Philipp Lahm cross, in what was likely to be his last appearance for the national team. Argentina should then have been in front when Higuaín was again the guilty party. Toni Kroos failed to look properly before heading the ball back towards his keeper allowing the Real Madrid man to nip in and claim the ball. Higuaín managed to break clear of Hummels, but dragged his shot wide of the upright with the onwatching crowd certain he would score. Higuaín then thought he had made amends a few minutes later, when this time he found the target with a smart finish from Ezequiel Lavezzi’s cross, only to be denied by the linesmans flag.

Germany were then dealt a further blow when debutant Kramer then had to be replaced after taking a blow to the head. He staggered off, looking dazed and confused, to be replaced by Chelsea man André Schürrle. As the first half drew to a close, both sides had the chance to break the deadlock. First, Messi, who was continuing to terrorise the German back four, beat Neuer in the German goal only to see Boateng clear of the line. Then in the last attack of the first half, Höwedes saw his header cannon back off the upright from a Kroos corner, before Müller was flagged offside on the rebound.

Into the second half, Messi had another great chance to give Argentina the lead, but the Barcelona man dragged his shot wide of Neuer but also wide of the upright when he should have perhaps done better. Neuer was then forced into action again as he rushed out to clear a long punt forward from Zabaleta, and in doing so he took out Higuaín in the process. Many, including Higuaín, felt it was a foul on the Argentina forward as the Bayern keeper clearly clattered into his head with the knee, but the referee inexplicably awarded a free-kick the other way, much to the confusion of everyone watching. Messi then went on a majestic run beyond the German defence, but Neuer was again equal to the challenge to deny the Argentine captain. Kroos should then have done better for Germany, but he dragged his effort wide after a fine passage of play from Özil.

With neither team able to gain and advantage, the game went into extra time, and it was the Germans who came out stronger and should have taken the lead when Schürrle played a neat one-two with Müller, but Sergio Romero did well to make the save. Argentina were then left kicking themselves when they missed yet another guilt edged chance, Rodrigo Palacio the guilty party on this occassion. Hummels failed to clear the ball, and as it fell to Palacio he tried to lift the ball over the outrushing Neuer, but his effort also drifted wide of the upright, when he would perhaps have been better just putting his foot through the ball. Agüero then felt the wrath of the German team when he caught Schweinsteiger with a trailing arm when both jumped for the ball. The challenge drew blood, but the referee failed to produce a card. It proved to be of insignificance though as moments later Germany found themselves in front with just 7 minutes remaining. Schürrle raced down the wing before whipping the ball infield, and there was substitute Götze, who took the ball down on his chest before sweeping beyond Romero from a tight angle. It was a wonderful goal, worthy of winning the cup and cementing Götze’s reputation as the golden boy of German football. Argentina thought they had a chance to rescue the game and take it to penalties, when they were awarded a free-kick in the dying moments, but rather uncharacteristically, Messi was guilty of wasting the chance as his set piece balloned over the bar. It proved to be the last action of note, as moments later the ref blew for full time, sending the German team and fans into celebrations. Before the World Cup could be lifted, Manuel Neuer was called upon to collect his award of the Golden Glove, while a dejected Messi also went up to claim the Golden Ball award for the best player in the tournament. Argentina then went up to collect their losers medals before Bayern veteran Philipp Lahm was the man who sparked the celebrations in earnest when he was finally able to lift the coveted trophy.

Many feel the Germans were worthy winners, with some very assured and solid performances throughout the tournament. The scary thing for the rest of the World (especially Europe) is that a large chunk of this squad will still feature in Russia in 4 years time, and it’s hard to see beyond them claiming the European Championship title in 2016 now in France, perhaps sparking a passage of dominance to rival that of Spain over the last 7 or so years. One player who won’t be there though is Miroslav Klose. The 36 year old Lazio striker lasted 88 minutes in the final, and finished the tournament with 2 goals which see him now the record all time scorer in the competition, with 15 goals. He also becomes the first man to feature in 4 seperate semi-finals, while being one of a select few to even feature in 4 tournaments. Being crowned a World Champion seems a fitting end to his International career.

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Massive technology geek Former runner looking to rediscover two working knees Ex Personal trainer currently looking to escape self imposed fitness exile Manchester City season ticket holder until 1998 & again from 2002 to present Atlético Madrid season ticket holder 1999-2001 & still follow from afar Love creative writing, and former journalist for Opta Soccer, Planetfootball & Sky Sports Former games tester, researcher and designer for Gremlin Interactive, Infogrames & Dinamic Multimedia

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