Well, the final had basically nothing in common with the Germans’ dominant dismantling of Brazil in the semi-final but they still got the job done in the end. Tough loss for Argentina but at least a tiny silver lining for dejected Brazilians. Won’t do much for the embarrassed Brazilian team, though. Not the most exciting game of the tournament but not bad considering how stingy both teams had been as far as giving up chances throughout the tourney. Realistically I would say that Argentina had more good chances to score but didn’t show enough composure under pressure (including, shockingly enough, Messi). Then just when it looked like both teams were out of gas and seemed to be in cruise control heading to a penalty shootout it all changed on one moment of brilliance from Mario Gotze. If I had been forced to choose which team looked most likely to score in the final minutes it would have been Argentina, if only because the German defense looked dead on its feet, especially Hummels, who was limping around like an 80 year old man at that point. It was probably no coincidence, though, that Gotze was the last substitute of the game and had a lot more energy than anyone else on the pitch. And it was fitting that the pass came from Schurrle, a player who had been giving the Argentines fits all day. Until that point, however, he had time and time again failed to come through with the final ball. Not so on that play. Impressive all around.
But for the first 110 minutes it was the gritty defensive performances that stole the show, particularly from guys like Schweinsteiger, Hummels, Boateng, Lahm, Mascherano, Garay, Zabaleta and Biglia. And the keepers came up big the few times they were called upon. But someone had to win and someone had to lose, and all in all I would say the best team in the tournament won the tournament. Which is surprisingly hard to do.
One thing that leaves a bit of a bad taste is Messi winning the Golden Ball award. I love Messi, and fully believe he is the best player in the world today. But he was nowhere near the best player in that tournament. How can a striker be the best player when he doesn’t score a single goal in the knockout stages? It’s absurd. Robben probably had the biggest impact on his team’s success, but there was no way FIFA was going to encourage his type of behaviour. For me it was James Rodriguez from Colombia even though they didn’t make it past the quarters. That was still a successful run for them and he was head and shoulders their best player. Other than that, Hummels, Mascherano, Muller or Neuer would have been reasonable choices.
But other than that, just a great World Cup, full of entertainment and drama. It’s going to be hard to get used to watching nothing but Blue Jay games for the rest of the summer…
Finally, congratulations to our draft winner, Terry McBride. He somehow looked into his crystal ball a month ago and decided that both Germany and an unheralded Dutch side were the teams to take him to the top, and they were. Well done, Terry.