Germany is the winner of Brazil’s World Cup 2014. They did it in extra time (like many games in this World Cup) thanks to a goal scored by Mario Göetze in the 113rd minute. The German side broke the norm and for the first time in football history a European national team wins a World Cup organised in South America. In a highly demanding game Argentina saw their hopes vanishing when the match got closer to a penalty shoot out. In the end Germany gets their ‘fourth star’ after winning this 2014 World Cup.
But let’s start from the beginning analysing the third place play-off game that encountered the hosts Brazil against The Netherlands.
The Netherlands comfortably defeated Brazil (3-0) in the third-place play-off. A game that did nothing but confirm some of the things already mentioned in this blog. The hosts’ horrible end to the tournament encountered a nonconformist Dutch team overcoming the deception of not playing the final and showing throughout the whole game an admirable fighting spirit. They made clear from the first minute that they wanted to win the game and that is what they did.
Brazil was again very nervous from the very beginning and after another defensive mistake the Netherlands were rewarded a penalty. Thiago Silva committed a foul outside the box being the last defender. He was shown a yellow card –instead of a red- and Netherlands were given a penalty –instead of a free-kick. Van Persie scored the penalty to put them ahead after just three minutes.
From that moment Netherlands always felt comfortable on the pitch, and with a high dose of aggressiveness and their usual man to man marking throughout the pitch they totally controlled the game. Meanwhile Scolari’s side tried to get back on the game but just as against Germany they wholeheartedly tried but lost their discipline and shape too soon.
As a result of this game situation Blind scored the second for the Dutch in the 16th minute and the game just got worse for the Brazilians, who kept trying hard with great individual effort but with an absolute lack of collective play. They didn’t create much danger and when they did it was always as a result of an individual play. Oscar was very active in attack and the entrance of Hulk gave them more intensity but it just wasn’t enough. The Netherlands kept playing with intensity, always very aggressive with individual marking. In the 91st minute Wijnaldum scored the third for the Dutch and the 3-0 on the scoreboard reflected the biggest problem Brazil has suffered in their last two games of this World Cup: great difficulty to manage high expectations, pressure and anxiety.
The Netherlands finishes in third position and Brazil in fourth; a great disappointment for the whole country.
An intense Final
This tournament’s great final was quite an open game, with a bit of everything as is usual in these kinds of decisive games. Argentina started the game with a 1-4-4-2 formation, very well organised and with Messi and Higuaín as their attacking couple. The team was narrow and compact with both lines of four very tight and both strikers being a permanent threat for the German defence, this at times allowed 2 vs 2 situations and dangerous counter attacks.
Germany, for their part, displayed a 1-4-2-3-1 formation with a forced last minute change in the line up as Kramer replaced Khedira, injured during the warm up. On top of that, Kramer had to play behind Miroslav Klose, an unusual position for him. Muller started on the right side but constantly going inside, creating spaces for Lahm’s runs. Özil played on the left side whereas Toni Kroos played in midfield with the idea of building up play form the back.
But Germany's headaches didn’t finish here. Kramer received a knock on the head and had to be replaced by Schurrler forcing Low to change again the disposition of his players. Chelsea’s player went to the left wing and Özil to the middle. The Germans kept playing well, keeping possession, constantly offering lines of pass and more importantly, going forward with very clear ideas. Every time they regained the ball they quickly went forward and always looked for the best positioned team mate to finish off the play.
Argentina launched dangerous counter attacks especially with Lavezzi and Messi, connecting well with Higuaín who was always ready to finish. And it was Higuaín who enjoyed the first clear chance of the game to score, sending the ball outside when he was in front of Manuel Neuer. It seemed that he looked at the German defender behind him and lost eye contact with the ball missing the target. After that chance Higuaín found the back of the net with a clinical shot but the goal was fairly disallowed for a clear off side.
The first half reached the end with a header to the post by Howedes, with the posterior action being disallowed for off side. So far it is fair to say that all referee’s decisions seemed to be right.
At half time Agüero replaced Lavezzi and Argentina changed formation displaying a 1-4-3-1-2 with Messi behind Higuaín and Agüero, and Enzo and Biglia aside Mascherano. They then, in the first minutes of the second half, enjoyed some clear chances to score. First Higuaín with a good combination disallowed for off side and then Messi with a diagonal shot very close to Neuer’s left post.
Germany understood the situation and tried to exploit more the wide areas sending both fullbacks forward. However the danger for them was in central areas with the three quality Argentinean players.
The first hard tackles arrived and with them the first yellow cards, one for Mascherano and Agüero and one for Howedes and Schweinsteiger. Germany was getting closer to Romero’s goal again and Argentina relied on Messi to threaten the Germans.
As the game went on it was Germany that kept creating chances, sometimes from set plays and other times by getting into the wide areas to deliver dangerous cut backs, a pattern used a lot during this game but also against Brazil. Argentina was still relying on an individual play of Messi or on a long ball behind the German defence. However Germany was now well organised awaiting the right moment for a lethal counter attack now that Mario Göetze was on the pitch after replacing Klose. But neither team seemed to want to risk too much and the game reached extra time, another one....
Another extra time
Extra time started with both teams determined to win the game, Schurrler first and then Agüero missing clear chances. Germany kept trying to create superiority in wide areas and Argentina now awaited their chance, it arrived in the 97th minute when Palacio found himself inside the box in front of Neuer but sent the ball too high over the German goalkeeper missing the clearest chance of this first half.
Argentina's game plan was now clear. The goalkeeper plus seven players defending and the three strikers up front free from defensive duties. Germany maintained a better balance with a 1-4-1-4-1 formation still trying to open the rivals defence through the wide areas. And in one of these penetrations arrived the decisive goal. Göetze perfectly controlled with his chest a cross delivered from Germany’s left side with his left foot volley beating Romero to find the back of the net. Germany one goal ahead and closer to the title.
The fatigue in the payers was now quite obvious and also the tension in the stands started to rise. Mertersacker replaced Özil to reinforce the defence when the game was nearly over. In the last free kick of the game Messi tried a miracle from far but his shot flew away along with all Argentinean hope.
Germany has played great football throughout the tournament and is the fair winner of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup. Congratulations to the winners and many thanks to all those who have followed us on this blog.