July 26 2014 Latest news:
Dave Evans, World Cup Blogger
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Germany 1 Argentina 0 (after extra time)
Germany became the first European team to win the World Cup in South America, they move level with Italy on four World Cup wins and after their remarkable win over Brazil in the semi-finals, nobody could argue that they weren’t the best team in the competition and thoroughly deserved to win the tournament.
Argentina had the best chances throughout, but their hero Lionel Messi could not find the magic or the net and Germany finally took their chance to take the title.
After such an exciting, goal-laden and truly shocking World Cup, perhaps we should have guessed that the final would end 0-0 and go into extra time.
This was no dull goalless 90 minutes though. It was a tense clash between easily the two best teams in the tournament and rather than a defensive, tight game, it was more a case of missed chances from both sides, but in particular Argentina.
The last time we had a really exciting World Cup Final was probably way back in 1986 when Argentina pipped West Germany 3-2 in an an absolute classic and there were hopes that the 2014 version between the two sides would match up to the attacking flair of that day in Mexico City.
Mind you, perhaps the most tedious of World Cup Finals happened between the same two sides in 1990 when a stale, bad-tempered game was won with an Andreas Brehme penalty.
This game certainly had the same ill-temper between the two teams, but there was little of the excitement of Spain v Holland, Brazil v Germany and the refreshing, attacking flair of Colombia and Costa Rica to crown what has been a scintillating, breathtaking tournament, perhaps the best World Cup in living memory.
Germany had lost Sami Khedira in the warm-up and then his replacement Christoph Kramer in the first half meaning they had already been put to more inconvenience than the entire Brazilian team had in their 7-1 semi-final win.
They looked to be in control in the first half, probing remorselessly at the Argentina rearguard, but it was the South Americans who had the better chances in the first half hour.
First Gonzalo Higuain was gifted a glorious opportunity by a dreadful German back pass, but with just the keeper to beat, he managed to scuff his shot wide of the target.
Ten minutes later, Higuain did have the ball in the back of the net only for it to be correctly ruled out for offside.
At the other end, substitute Andre Shurrle forced a good save as Germany looked to wrest back the initiative, but Lionel Messi finally showed what he is made of when he dribbled through the German defence, but was stopped just as he tried to get in a shot.
The Germans should have grabbed the lead right on half time when a corner was headed against the post by Benedikt Howedes and the trail of missed sitters was to be the story of the 90 minutes.
Argentina seemed to be winning the psychological battle. Thomas Muller and Schurrle looked rattled and then Alex Sabella’s side kept Germany waiting at the start of the second half and it seemed to affect the Germans.
Messi misses a glorious chance on 47 minutes, Tony Kroos sidefooted wide from the edge of the box with 10 minutes left, but this was a game of few chances and only three shots on target in 90 minutes, all of them from the Germans, though Argentina had the better chances only to squander them.
To their credit both teams tried to win the game in extra time. So many extra 30 minute periods are negative and dull as both teams play for the penalty shoot-out, but certainly not this one.
Rodrigo Palacio came closest in the first period when he lifted the ball over German keeper Manuel Neuer only for the ball to slip wide, while Schurrle had an effort palmed away by the Argentina keeper.
Both teams looked out on their feet, but it was Germany who were to conjure up one final piece of brilliance to grab the winning goal just as the coaches were contemplating their penalty shoot-out line up.
It was a goal good enough to win any trophy. In the 113th minute a cross from the left wing by Schurrle was brilliantly controlled by Mario Gotze, before he fired the ball into the far corner to make it 1-0.
Argentina tried to find one last effort to force an equaliser, but when Messi’s free kick flew high and wide, the writing was on the wall and Germany had deservedly won the World Cup, a victory that their humbling of Brazil in the last four gave them every right to.
And so we are at the end of a stunning tournament. Sixty-four matches, so many goals, so many comebacks, some shocks and some superb drama which will live in the memory for a long time.
Brazil are know for their exciting, free-flowing, attacking football, but while so many of the teams out there embraced that footballing ethos, the hosts were not good enough or attacking enough to be the team to go all the way.
So what about the statistics of this World Cup? Below is a list of what went on in the last three weeks, but the only thing that really matters is that Germany are the champions of the world.
Goals: James Rodrigues (Colombia) six goals, Thomas Muller (Germany) 5
Assists: Juan Guillermo Cuadrado (Colombia), Tony Kroos (Germany) 4
Total number of goals scored: 171
Average goals per match: 2.67
Total number of hat-tricks: 2 Thomas Müller (Germany), Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland)
Total number of penalty kicks awarded: 13
Total number of penalty kicks scored: 12 Xabi Alonso, Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani, Juan Cuadrado, Sofiane Feghouli, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Mile Jedinak, Thomas Müller, Neymar, Robin van Persie, James Rodríguez, Georgios Samaras
Total number of penalty kicks missed: 1 Karim Benzema (France)
Most goals: 18 Germany
Fewest goals: 1 Cameroon, Honduras, Iran
Most goals conceded: 14 Brazil
Fewest goals conceded by a team: 2 Costa Rica
Best goal difference: +14 Germany
Worst goal difference: -8 Cameroon
Most clean sheets: 4 Argentina, Netherlands
Fewest clean sheets: 0 Algeria, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Ghana, Honduras, Italy, Ivory Coast, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, United States
Total number of yellow cards: 186
Average yellow cards per match: 2.90
Total number of red cards: 10
Average red cards per match: 0.16
Most yellow cards (team): 14 – Brazil
Most red cards (team): 1 – Belgium, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Greece, Honduras, Italy, Portugal, Uruguay