Written By: Saad Shafqat
Month July, date 13th, destination Estadio Maracana, Brasil. The stage was set for the biggest match of the tournament. The Fifa World Cup 2014 finale. The clash was set to happen. It was Joachim Loew's Germans versus Sabella's Argentina. Germany who had been simply outstanding during the tournament were seeking for their 4th World Cup crown. On the other hand, Argentina were looking for their 2nd World Cup triumph.
Crowds of immaculate numbers turned up to see the biggest clash in World Cup. Being a South American nation, Argentina had the better crowd support. But this wasn't going to distract the Die manschaft from their task of seeking eternal glory. An estimated 1 billion viewership was observed. Staggering stat that.
Loew yet again, started with his strongest XI with one exception. The withdrawal of Sami Khedira at the last moment paved the way for the young Christoph Kramer. Kramer, made his first ever World Cup finals appearance in the final of the prestigious tournament. Lucky lad. Philip Lahm was the skipper. Argentina was led by the mesmerizing Lionel Messi. Angel Di Maria's presence on the bench was a boost for the South Americans. Javier Mascherano played in the heart of the midfield, who had been simply outstanding in this World Cup.
The game started off with a good pace. The first attack came as early as the 3rd minute. Toni Kroos, who was having an outstanding World Cup gifted the ball to Higuan, but the Napoli striker failed to capitalize and shot the ball wide of Neuer's goal. Kroos was the luckiest man on the pitch. Higuan's goal was disallowed due to offside when he met Lavezzi's cross from the right to put it in the back of the net. The striker didn't approve the decison. Game progressed with Argentina having the upper hand. On one occasion, Leo Messi used his blistering to pace to run past Mats Hummels. Into the box he went, but couldn't find the finishing touch. Germany came close when Howedes' header came off the bar from a Kroos corner. The European side's offensive record in the tournament was exemplary, scoring 17 goals and conceded only 4. At halftime, the score was 0-0.
Second half saw Sergio Aguero come on Eziquel Lavezzi. As early as the 48th minute mark, Leo Messi yet again came close to scoring but Neuer made the angles narrow for him to score. Germany started to play their natural football. Synchronized movements. Players were confident on the ball. Schweinsteiger and Kroos demanded attention as they played some of their best football. Toni Kroos went close to scoring when Ozil found him outside the box. The Real Madrid bound player should've done better. At the mid point of the half, Sabella brought Rodrigo Palacio in place of Higuan, while Loew brought on Mario Gotze for the legendary Miroslav Klose. This was maybe the last time that we had seen Klose play in the World Cup finals. With 16 goals in 24 games, he became the highest goalscorer in World Cup history. Second half couldn't even decide the final.
It went to extra time. Out of 20 editions, this was the 7th time that a final had gone to extra time. 3rd time in a row as well. That is 2006, 2010 and now 2014. Germany meant business right from the get go. As early as the 91st minute, Andre Schurrle came close to scoring. He fired a shot towards goal but Sergio Romero, produced a smart save. In the 97th minute, Palacio had an outstanding chance, he tried an audacious chip over Manuel Neuer, which never troubled him. Germans started to believe. They thought they could score on this night. They could win. They believed. On the 112 minute, Andre Schurrle ran with the ball on the left flank, whipped in a delightful ball towards Mario Götze. Gotze controlled the ball on his chest. Whilst falling he slammed the ball hard with his left boot.
The clock struck 112:22. And the ball went into the back of the net. Germans ecstatic. Argentina crestfallen. Shattered. Messi and company had no idea of what had happened. This was the first time that Argentina had conceded a goal in the tournament. Heartbreaking scenes at the Estadio Maracana. The final whistle blew and to the Germans delight, they had become the Fifa World Cup 2014 Champions.
Scenes at Rio De Janeiro. Germany crowned as the World Cup Champions. This was their first major trophy in 24 years. Joachim Loew joined the names of the great coaches. Franz Beckenbauer who had last helped Germany win the title was in attendance to witness history in the making.
Golden Boot Winner was James Rodriguez of Columbia with 6 goals and 4 assists.
Golden Glove Award went to Manuel Neuer, whilst the Golden Ball went to Lionel Messi.
So we saw some exemplary football. Great sportsmanship. Comradeship. Alliances formed. Shocks and I mean big ones in this editon of the World Cup Finals. Now we wait for another 4 years. Will the Germans defend the crown or will we have another World Cup winner.