The FIFA World Cup finals came to an end today after Germany handed Argentina defeat in extra time. The 123-minute game featured some quality football from both sides, however in the end, Argentina’s substitutes did not deliver and the team fell victim to the German onslaught, suffering a late 1-0 defeat.
Argentina had to cope without the likes of Ángel di María, putting an end to the speculation of whether or not the player would be fit to play in the World Cup finals. Di María’s absence left Enzo Pérez, Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia in the midfield to work with Messi. Gonzalo Higuaín and Ezequiel Lavezzi assumed their positions up top for La Albiceleste.
Germany’s Sami Khedira was taken off the starting lineup with a last minute calf injury and replaced by Cristoph Kramer. An unlucky tackle in the box had Kramer dazed on the ground shortly thereafter, and though the player continued to play through the confusion for a few minutes, he ultimately came off in the 31st minute. The incident will in all likelihood be filed away until the ethical discussion of players playing through concussions gets its due attention.
Argentina’s defense proved complacent and solid during the first half. Marcos Rojo and Martín Dimichelis both made critical defensive saves for La Albiceleste by bogging down the middle. Sergio Romero also gave an outstanding performance by making half a dozen critical saves for Argentina.
Offensively, both teams had solid opportunities in their respective offensive thirds. While Sergio Romero was forced to make saves against Germany’s onslaught, Argentina were unable to be as dangerous with their opportunities. Higuaín was unable to capitalize on an opportunity that left him with the ball in front of Germany’s goal. Instead of taking an extra touch—he had all the time in the world to do so—Higuaín gave a strike that went wide left of the goal. Higuaín did manage to score in the first half, however the striker was called offsides effectively stomping out Argentina’s chance at an early lead.
Sergio Agüero came on in the second half for Argentina, replacing Lavezzi up top. Both teams’ overall urgency ebbed as the scoreless game continued to approach the 70th minute. Shortly thereafter Higuaín was taken off and replaced by Rodrigo Palacio. After a few more half-hearted attempts to get on the scoreboard, the whistle was blown and Argentina and Germany would see the World Cup finals through to extra time.
Argentine coach Alejandro Sabella must have been frustrated with his substitutes’ performance during extra time. The late-game pace and spark that was needed from Agüero and Palacio was utterly absent. Agüero narrowly missed getting sent of the field with a second yellow card after a questionable header challenge against Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Mario Götze ended things for Argentina by scoring with only a few minutes left in extra time. Götze had come off the bench for Die Mannschaft in the 88th minute to score a brilliant goal in the 113th minute. Götze brought the ball down from his chest to set up a one-touch strike that went past Argentina’s Sergio Romero, finalizing the fate of the 2014 FIFA World Cup final.
The victory goes down as the fourth World Cup title for Germany and the team’s first title since 1990. Argentina will undoubtedly be replaying their missed opportunities following today’s narrow loss. Germany’s Mario Götze, on the other hand, will go home tonight replaying what is liable to be the most important goal of the 22-year-old Bayern Munich player’s international career. In the end, Argentina was defeated as they succumbed to the onslaught of the German machine.
Commentary by Courtney Anderson
Observation by author