Not many, including neutrals and perhaps even die-hard supporters, would argue that the most deserving team of the 2014 Fifa World Cup annexed the coveted trophy. The Maracana in Rio was the centre stage of a cagey yet enthralling final on July 14 and Argentina, under the influence of the greatest star of the present era, Lionel Messi, gave it their all against three-time final rivals, Germany. But, unfortunately, for the thousands of Argentineans who had crammed in at the spiritual home of football, Messi and his ‘fantastic four’ failed to spark.
Gonzalo Higuain, an integral part of the aggressive quartet including Messi, Sergio Aguero and the injured Angel Di Maria, missed a sitter during the early exchanges and his failed attempt is surely going to haunt him for many years. Later, Aguero, Messi and Rodrigo Palacio all had goal scoring opportunities that were fluffed much to the chagrin of their supporters. Messi now has four long years ahead of him before he gets another crack at emulating his hero Diego Maradona’s feat of winning the biggest prize in the game for the Albiceleste.
But for the winners, the performance of their young guns will be a cherished memory for millions. It is indeed a historic win as for the first time unified Germany has won the tournament. Mario Goetze who was brought in as a late replacement in the second-half of the match created history by becoming the first substitute to score in a World Cup final. From the outset in Brazil, the Germans looked like a team on a mission. They routed Portugal 4-0 before inflicting humiliation, agony and pain on the hosts in the 7-1 semi-final demolition. It was often stated that Brazil has Neymar, Portugal has Ronaldo, and Argentina has Messi, but the Germans had a team, and the team proved they were, indeed, a special breed. The event also caps a wonderful run for their manager, Joachim Loew, who had assembled his team piece to piece and worked tirelessly for many years. He can now sit back and reflect on arguably the happiest moment of his life.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2014.
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