It was a World Cup final for the ages; it had last second lineup changes, early injuries, and plenty of scoring chances. However, it was Germany who kept a solid defense and broke through with 7 minutes to play to take the World Cup trophy from the grasp of Lionel Messi’s hands at the hallowed Maracana to become the first European side to win the World Cup in the Americas.
Minutes before kickoff during pre-game warmups, Germany’s Sami Khedira suffered a calf injury, forcing Joachim Low to replace him in the XI with Christoph Kramer. Kramer would go on to play the first 31 minutes before being replaced by Andre Schurrle after suffering a head injury. Much to the surprise of many, Argentina would line up without Angel Di Maria, who had not played since picking up a thigh injury in the quarterfinals. The buzz around the Maracana was the probable inclusion of Di Maria in the lineup, but he wasn’t quite fit enough.
The match opened with Argentina on the front foot. The Argentine attack, led by Messi and Gonzalo Higuain, had its first chance inside of 20 minutes. A perfectly flicked on header from Toni Kroos had sent Higuain in on goal, yes you read that right, but Higuain could not keep his shot on target and it skimmed a few yards wide of goal. A golden chance had passed for Argentina to make the nightmares of Brazilians a reality. Higuain would then have a goal in the 30th minute called back due to a blatant offside call, he was yards offside when he didn’t need to be. Nevertheless, we were still scoreless at the Maracana.
Germany would see their own chances be fizzled in the first half as well. A header from a German center-back would hit the outside of the post in the second minute of first half stoppage time to preserve the scoreline at 0. With bits of wide open play, it was the Germans who looked the better side in the first 45, but if it weren’t for a few Maracana miracles, they could have found themselves down a goal or two.
The best player in the world found a chance to begin the second 45 when he sent a left footed shot across the face of goal and just a few inches wide. One had to think that he puts that away in a Barca shirt. In the 88th minute, Jogi Low brought Mario Gotze on for Miroslav Klose, which would prove to be a fantastic sub. Another stroke of luck, or misfortune for Argentina fans, had kept the game scoreless for 90 minutes. Yet again we were headed for extra time, the 3rd World Cup final in the past 4 times to go to ET.
After the first 15 minutes passed with nothing much in the way of excitement, we headed to a second period, still scoreless. It took 8 minutes in the second period to see Die Mannschaft break through. An absolutely bursting run up the left side by Andre Schurrle led to a cross that was chested down and volleyed into the far post by Mario Gotze. It was one of the runs and goals of the tournament, and none were more important. Ze Germans had the lead and the self-proclaimed “Golden Generation” of Deutschland football were minutes away from their first World Cup trophy as a unified nation.
Argentina pushed and pattered for a glimpse of a goal, and earned a free kick at the death from 25 yards out. Who else would take it, but Messi? The Magician carried an entire nation on his shoulders and could finally live up to the legend of Diego Maradona with a goal to send the Final to penalties at the Maracana. Messi stepped forward and ripped a shot that sailed miles over the bar, and that was it, The Machine had beaten Messi at the famed Maracana. One of the best players the world has ever seen will be without a crowning achievement for another 4 years, and alas the Diego Maradona comparisons will continue.
It was clear throughout the entire tournament that Germany was the best team. They may not have had the individual talent that some players had, but their chemistry and coaching was by far the best in the tournament. Manuel Neuer was the best goalkeeper, and even won the Golden Glove award for best goalkeeper of the tournament. Thomas Muller had come a goal away from winning his second consecutive Golden Boot for top goal-scorer. Miroslav Klose became the top goal-scorer in tournament history, and Jogi Low had finally broken out of the shadows of bitter semi-final defeats in major tournaments.
Mario Gotze, one of the first players on the national team from unified Germany had scored the goal to give the nation their first trophy as a unified country. It seems fitting that a chain of events like that would happen at the Maracana to avoid Brazil’s ultimate shame, doesn’t it?
USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann showed happiness for his homeland after their win yesterday
— Jürgen Klinsmann (@J_Klinsmann) July 13, 2014
keeping all my fingers crossed for Jogi and THE MANNSCHAFT !! Let's make it 4 after 1954, 1974 and 1990 !! pic.twitter.com/b9z9AAohPH
— Jürgen Klinsmann (@J_Klinsmann) July 13, 2014