The final match of the 2014 World Cup promises to be an enthralling encounter with the devastating Die Mannschaft, who blew the hosts away 7:1 in the semis, set to face a well organised Argentine side, who is yet to concede a goal in the knock out stages of this competition. The rivalry between the two countries, who had met in two previous finals; 1986 and 1990, would ensure that the match is keenly contested. It would only be fitting that there would be goals at the Maracana, in a World Cup that have been a great advertisement for attacking football.
Would Messi thrill his teeming fans with a memorable performance and emulate Diego Maradona by guiding Argentina to World Cup glory or would Germany ride on their team ethics to become the first European side to win the World Cup on South American soil? The whole world awaits the drama that would unfold.
The game kicks off with Germany quickly settling into their passing rhythm. Muller wins the first free kick on the 2nd minute after a foul by Rojo. The defensive wall does its job to stop the free kick and Argentina counters with pace with Higuain going wide. Romero saves from a Muller cross on the 6th minute as Germany threatens from the right.
Messi does well to outpace Hummels on the right but Schweinsteiger snuffs out the danger. Zabaleta’s cross on the 9th minute evades everyone as Argentina gradually gets into the game. Neuer saves from a tame Lavezzi cross. Klose failed to make contact with Lahm’s fine cross on the 12th minute. Klose wins a free kick for a foul by Demichelis and Kroos’ free kick is cleared. Ozil does well to track a Perez counter attacking run, as play is halted for Kramer to be attended to after a jarring shoulder from Garay.
Higuain misses a sitter on the 20th minute from an inexplicable Toni Kroos back header. Germany is controlling possession while Argentina is comfortably sitting deep and waiting to pounce on the counter. Schweinsteiger releases Klose on the 27th minute but Romero dashes out to collect. Schweinsteiger picks up a booking on the 28th minute, but the free kick is wasted. Higuain scores from a Lavessi cross but is correctly adjudged offside. Andre Schurrle is brought on for the injured Kramer on the 31st minute.
Howedes picks a yellow on the 33rd minute for a high foot on Mascherano. Schweinsteiger snuffs out another dangerous Messi run on the 35th minute and Neuer saves the corner. Romero saves brilliantly from Schurlle but the offside flag went up against Ozil.
Messi beats the offside flag on the 39th minute and runs into the box, but Boateng clears the danger, with Neuer beaten. Muller’s fine cross on the 42nd minute is headed away by Zabaleta. Romero saves from Kroos on the 43rd minute after Mascherano gives the ball away. Muller’s cross for Klose evades the advancing striker and goes out for a goal kick. Kroos’ corner is headed out by Garay and Howedes hits the upright with the next corner. Muller is however flagged offside on contact with the rebound which Romero saves anyway. First half ends goalless in an open encounter, with Germany dominating possession.
The second half kicks off with Sergio Aguero coming on for Lavezzi. Higuain is flagged offside on the 46th minute as he picks up a Mascherano pass. Messi rolls his shot narrowly wide, with Neuer doing well to narrow the angle. Argentina is resorting to long passes from deep to try and catch the German high defensive line, without much success.
Argentina gets away with some shirt tugging by Garay and Rojo, when defending a Kroos’ corner. Neuer punches away the ball, leaving Higuain in a heap on the 56th minute. Lahm drives in and crosses on the 58th minute, but Romero saves Klose’s header. Lahm’s attempt to release Muller in the box, is slightly overhit. Klose wins the ball and releases Schurlle but Ozil fails to make contact with the cross.
Mascherano is cautioned on the 63rd minute for a tackle on Klose. Aguero is next in the books for upending Schweinsteiger. Messi’s free kick on the 66th minute is saved by Neuer and Germany counters but Romero saves. Mascherano releases Rojo but the defence clears the danger from the advancing Higuain. Schurrle releases Howedes on the 69th minute but his cross is poor.
Schurrle fails to control in the box on the 70th minute and Romero saves. Messi mis-controls on the 73rd minute and the next minute, shoots wide after some fine work on the right. Palacio comes on for Higuain on the 76th minute. Neuer saves from Messi and Germany counters again. A dangerous scramble in the Argentina box on the 79th minute eventually goes out for a goal kick.
A smooth German passing move on the 81st minute ends with Kroos passing wide of Romero’s post. Aguero slips at the vital moment after Messi’s pass to release him. Fernando Gago comes on for Perez on the 85th minute. Boateng wins a vital tackle on Messi in the box, as Gotze is brought on for Klose. Palacio evades Hummels on the 89th minute but Howedes covers. Gotze shoots from distance but Romero saves. Aguero is released by Gago in the closing moments but Hummels clears the danger.
It’s extra time and Schurrle threatens almost immediately but Romero saves the shot. Aguero counters immediately and Hummels’ magnificent challenge denies him a clear run on goal. Germany are looking re-energised and attacking Argentina with gusto. Rojo’s fine cross on the 97th minute frees Palacio, but he goes wide with his lobbed pass over the advancing Neuer. Boateng releases Lahm on the right but Mascherano clears. Lahm robs Palacio and is fouled as the first half of extra time comes to an end.
The second half of extra time kicks off with Germany retaining possession and looking to draw out Argentina. Mascherano fouls Schweinsteiger on the 107th minute but the German soldiers on. Aguero escapes a caution for an elbow on Schweinsteiger on the 109th minute as it seems Argentina is bent on ending his contributions prematurely. Muller and Demichelis survive a head collision as the undeterred Schweinsteiger is thrown back on, after being patched up.
Schurrle drives in from the left on the 113th minute and crosses for Gotze, who chests and finishes with finesse. Germany leads 1:0 with 7 minutes to go… What a finish. Argentina picks up the challenge and steps up the attack and Messi heads over on the 117th minute. Muller drives in on the 119th minute but his cross evades everyone as Germany brings on Mertesacker for Ozil. Schweinsteiger brings down Messi in a dangerous position but the anticipated special from Messi, is fired disappointingly into the stands.
Germany holds on to win 1:0 in a grueling 120 minutes of football. Team work, mental toughness, grit, consistency, resilience, efficiency; hallmarks of this classy German side. A deserved victory for Die Mannschaft, who rose to the occasion and saved Brazil the ignominy of seeing their arch-rivals and South American neighbours win the World Cup at the Maracana.