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Three things we learned as Germany win World Cup, outlast Argentina

Jul 13, 2014, 6:12 PM EDT

Brazil Soccer WCup Germany Argentina AP

Following Germany’s 1-0 extra time win over Argentina at the Maracana Stadium on Sunday, there were tense moments galore as two giants of soccer clashed in Rio de Janeiro.

The Germans prevailed and claimed their fourth World Cup title after Mario Gotze‘s moment of individual brilliance sealed the trophy for Das Mannschaft.

[ RELATED: Germany 1-0 Argentina ]

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[ REALTED: Gotze fact file

In what proved to be an intriguing tactical battle between two nations with contrasting styles, we learned an awful lot about Germany and Argentina as the 2014 World Cup came to a close.

Here are three things we learned from the final, as Germany became the new World Cup champions.

Higuain, Messi, fluff their lines

In the first half, Higuain could have put Argentina 2-0 up as the Albiceleste came racing out of the traps. However, the man who clinically fired Argentina past Belgium in the quarterfinals and has been so clutch for club and country in the past fluffed his lines. Massively. First of all he was let in over the top but shanked an effort wide after five minutes, then in the 22nd minute he put another effort wide after Toni Kroos‘ poor header played him in. It just wasn’t Higuain’s day as he was taken out by Manuel Neuer in the second half, and somehow a free kick was given against him. Then he was substituted. Lionel Messi, despite winning the Golden Ball award for the best player of the tournament, failed to score a single goal in the knockout stages of the World Cup and once again vanished in the final for large swathes. Messi’s big chance arrived just after the break as Lucas Biglia played him in, but the Barcelona star dragged his effort wide of the far post. Apart from a few darting runs and curling efforts from distance, Messi wandered around in the middle and looked extremely lethargic in the closing stages. He had a free kick in the dying seconds which he ballooned over the bar, then looked at the turf in disbelief as the Argentine captain winced painfully. When Argentina needed him most, Messi couldn’t come up with the goods.

source: AP

Gotze was the hero as Germany, well, win. Any shock there?

Defense dominates, Mascherano shines

Throughout the entire knockout stages Argentina failed to concede a goal in regulation. Alejandro Sabella’s side went 426 minutes without conceding  before Gotze struck the game-winner in extra time. Much had been made of the “fantastic four” up top for Argentina (Messi, Higuain, Di Maria, Aguero) but central defenders Martin Demichelis and Ezeqieul Garay were outstanding. Especially in the final. At times Argentine’s defensive unit look impenetrable but Gotze’s moment of magic was worthy of winning any game. Biglia and Javier Mascherano sat in front of the back four expertly and stereotypically snapped away at Germany’s midfield. Mascherano was simply wonderful. His timely interceptions stopped Germany’s flow time and time again and the amount of challenges he snapped into was essential in the engine room. He cajoled his side into action and was the lynchpin of Argentina’s defensive display. As for Germany, Manuel Neuer won the Golden Glove award as he kept four clean sheets and only conceded four goals in seven games throughout the entire tournament. The experience of defenders Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels proved the difference as Germany shut the Argentine’s out in the final. It was a tense, tight and gripping 1-0 win that made the world sit up and appreciate top-notch defending. We’ve seen plenty of tough games where two teams fought to the death in this tournament. The best was saved until last.

“Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”

In England a saying has developed about Germany, with former England international and NBC’s Premier League Analyst Gary Lineker famous for these words.

“Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”

Throughout this tournament Germany has found a way to dig deep and get past stubborn outfits like Algeria, France and then Argentina. They also possess the talent to hammer hosts Brazil and were worthy winners of the 2014 World Cup. They were the top scorers, with 18, and the best team. Germany won it with a moment of magic which deserved to win any final. Gotze’s goal was a golden moment.

His strike ensured Germany’s “Golden Generation” struck gold for the first time since 1990. In the end, as it always seems to shake out, the Germans win.

  1. 4thquartermagic - Jul 13, 2014 at 6:14 PM

    Amazing goal. Great pass better finish.

    Messi…. Meh.

  2. godsholytrousers - Jul 13, 2014 at 7:16 PM

    Justice this world cup, the better team won the tournament and today the better team won the game.
    In the end it came down to Germany having too much depth for Argentina to handle.

    Germany were the best team in the tournament in the following areas:
    Technique
    Tactics
    Fitness
    Psychology
    Team Movement
    Lifestyle
    Determination

  3. jucam1 - Jul 13, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    Giving Messi the Golden Ball is a farce, how small he came up in this tournament and just because FIFA decided to prop him up they give him that award, what a joke. There were at least 4 players that should have taken it over him. Way overrated!

  4. nodindenver - Jul 13, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    What a great World Cup! If anybody thinks that soccer is not physical, they missed a heck of a match today. It could have gone either way but, the best team finished and the team with a bit more individualism did not. Germany had two out of four back liners in the tourney’s top eleven and an argument could be made that all four should have been there. James or Robben should be carrying the Golden Ball.

  5. diana345901 - Jul 14, 2014 at 5:38 AM

    The World Cup is “won,” and we can go back to watching paint dry.

    Actually, nobody won. Sorry, Germany: A game that takes 113 minutes for a single goal to occur for the “win” demonstrates, not one team’s superiority over the other, but rather the teams’ sameness plus a lucky shot. Period.

    Is there any sport besides soccer where the athletes’ conditioning, talent, and performance count, in the end, for so little?

    Paint not only dries faster, it also ends up being worth the effort needed to apply it.

    Soccer sometimes looks more like a circus act than a game. A circus act showcases performers’ abilities, and that’s it. It doesn’t aim for a “goal,” except perhaps surviving particularly dangerous feats. Maybe soccer shouldn’t, either. It almost doesn’t now.

    The only sustained excitement connected with soccer is contained in the TV promos for it: 15 or 30 seconds of players bashing into each other—Bim, Bam, POW!—over and over, filmed at ground level so we’re almost part of the action, can almost feel the players’ anguish and pain.

    Too bad reality, the game itself, has to intervene.

    Sure, there are moments of dazzling footwork and brilliantly choreographed moves to get the ball near the net (yet almost never in it). They ARE exciting. But they’re literally moments, mere seconds of action occurring in a 90-minute vacuum, plus added minutes, plus extra time, plus penalty kicks, during which nothing meaningful happens until a lucky shot actually goes into the net and everybody goes nuts—not entirely, I suggest, because a goal was scored, but because something, anything, happened.

    Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate the athleticism and dedication of those who play soccer. I admire their skill and courage. And of course I realize that their fans love the sport as it is, so who cares what I think?

    Maybe paint manufacturers? GO-A-A-A-L-LL!

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