Argentina entered the final match of the FIFA World Cup hoping to derail Germany’s quest to win a fourth championship. The month-long quest by both teams come to an end in the 64th match of the tournament. Argentina, led by superstar Lionel Messi, entered the game with the hope of winning their country’s third World Cup and the first in 28 years.
The battle between Europe and South America began with both teams aggressively attacking. After the first five minutes of play Germany started to slide into the strategic offense that the squad had used all World Cup. The defense would handle the ball near midfield, looking for an opening in the Argentinian defense. However, the Argentine counter attack led by Messi appeared to be the early threat to score. Neither team would see an advantage until the 21st minute when Argentina received a gift from Germany. A miss hit header gave the ball right to Gonzalo Higuain, but the forward was unable to capitalize on the gift and sent the ball wide of the goal.
In the 30th minute it looked like Argentina would truly gain the advantage as Higuain sent the ball past German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for the apparent first goal. However the celebration quickly ended when Higuain realized the sideline official had raised the flag, calling the forward off-sides, nullifying the goal run. The offense for Germany was struggling through most of the first half. While a bigger team, Argentina dropped the midfielders back on defense, not allowing the gaps in front of the goal that Die Mannschaft was needing.
After the first 45 minutes of play in the final game of the FIFA World Cup, Germany was no closer to winning their fourth championship and offside calls had derailed any advantage for Argentina. The teams headed to the locker rooms at halftime tied 0-0. Germany needed the midway point to figure out a way past the overwhelming defense from Argentina. On the other side of the pitch, the South American nation needed to continue the counter and hope for no more offsides calls against them.
From the start of the second half, the offside bug continued to pester Argentina as Higuain once again had a beautiful opportunity that was nullified by the sideline flag. Seconds later, Messi had his first real opportunity, however, Argentina’s leading scorer sent the ball just wide of the goal. Then the game started to turn towards Germany. After a collision between Neuer and Higuain, Germany’s offense started to pick up. In the 59th minute, Miroslav Klose had a beautiful attempt off of a crossing pass. The striker timed a jump perfectly for a header that the Argentinian goalkeeper Sergio Romero was able to block. However, it looked like Germany was finding their rhythm and a way past the Argentine defense.
Then a Bayern München pairing gave Toni Kroos a chance at a goal. The midfielder came streaking up the center of the field to collect a pass at the top of the penalty box only to send the shot wide to the right of the net. The ball would continue to go back and forth through the rest of regulation time and end in a 0-0 tie. The final game of the championship tournament headed to extra time.
Germany had a number of shot attempts in the first minute of extra time that Romero was able to stop. On the resulting counter attack, Messi found another opportunity for a goal. The forward was unable to get a good shot off of his foot and sent the ball across the front of the goal and out-of-bounds on the opposite side of the field for a German throw-in. In the 97th Rodrigo Palacio, who replaced Higuain in the second half of play, attempted to lob a ball past Neuer in what was the best chance for Argentina to score up to that point in the match. The Argentinian forward sent the ball just past the target for a German goal kick.
In the 113th minute, Germany drew first blood as forward Andre Schuerrle crossed a pass to Mario Goetze. Goetze collected the ball with his chest and launched a shot past Romero giving Die Mannschaft a 1-0 lead over the South American team. Messi attempted to equalize the score minutes later, but sent the ball over the crossbar. There would be no penalty kicks as Argentina could not find the back of the net before the final whistle.
With the 1-0 win, Germany hoisted the FIFA World Cup championship trophy into the air for the fourth time. This was the first championship by a European country in South America and the first for the Germans since 1990. The victory is the first World Cup title for a unified Germany, with the first three championships won by the former West German team. With no goals scored in the final match by either Germany’s Thomas Müller or Messi, Colombia’s James Rodriguez captured the Golden Boot with six goals in the tournament. Die Mannschaft will add the fourth star to the national team jersey and join Italy with four trophies.
Commentary by Carl Auer
Game Observations by Carl Auer