From Ground Zero: German machine beats Messi’s Magic in final

Zee Media Bureau/Shobhan Saxena from Rio de Janeiro

The World Cup in Brazil was decided by a left foot. But it was not Lionel Messi nor who used his left leg to win the cup for Argentina. It was the foot of Mario Goetze which gave Germany their fourth World Cup title on Sunday afternoon at Maracanã Stadium as they won the final game 1-0 in extra time.

It is the first time that a European team has won the World Championship in the Americas. With the fourth conquest, Germany has the same number of world titles as Italy and one less than Brazil. The Germans also won in 1954, 1974 and 1990. Germany now has the same number of trophies that Italy. In the 20 World Cups played so far, Europe has won 11 times, while South America has been successful only 9 times.

On Sunday, in an engaging game, Argentina suffered its third defeat in the final, the second to the Germans. Argentina won the World Cup last time in 1986. As they left the field even before the Germans received the trophy, the Argentinians were taunted by the Brazilians as "runner-up". The mere consolation for Argentina was Messi being named “Player of the World Cup”. This was Messi’s third World Cup. Unlike Maradona, the Argentine legend who won the World Cup in 1986, Messi has failed to get his hands on the trophy so far.

Today’s game started at a good pace, with the Germans trying to control it as much as they could and the Argentinians trying to break free when they could. The South Americans had a few golden opportunities to take the lead but they failed. The Argentine fans screamed with great excitement when Higuain had the ball in the German area and only the German goalkeeper Neuer to beat but he shot wide off the goal. The same striker sent the ball into the German net a few minutes later, but he was off-side and the goal was denied.

On the other hand, the Germans missed a good chance when a header from Höwedes hit the crossbar. Messi, who was being heavily marked by the Germans, missed a clear chance in the second half when he sent a curling shot wide off the target. Though the Argentinians started the second half at a quicker pace, the Germans had the more possession of the ball: 60% of the time in the second half. In the first half, they had the ball for 63% time.

In the end, it was the German team, playing with great organisation and disciple, which triumphed over the Argentinian team, which was too dependent on the individual brilliance of Messi and Higuain. They also missed the services of their star striker Di Maria, who could not play because of a muscle pull.

With the victory of Germany over Argentina, a European team has won the World Cup held in the Americas for the first time. Until 2006, all victories of Europe had come within the continent. The rule was broken in 2010, when Spain won the World Cup in South Africa. In the seven previous editions held in the Americas, the teams from the region had won all the cups. Uruguay won in 1930 (Uruguay) and in 1950 (in Brazil); Brazil in 1962 (Chile), 1970 (Mexico) and 1994 (United States); and Argentina in 1978 (in Argentina) and 1986 (in Mexico). The Brazilians are the only team which won the championship on the European soil in 1958 (Sweden).

The fourth title won by Germany also assured Europe its 11th World Cup title. With this, the European continent has the advantage of two victories over South America. The last time a South American team won the Cup was in 2002. At that time, Brazil won 2-0 over Germany in Yokohama, Japan.

One difference between the continents is the largest concentration of conquests in South America: Brazil (5 times), Argentina (2) and Uruguay (2). In Europe, the titles are shared by five teams. Italy and Germany lead with four wins, followed by England, France and Spain (once each).

With this the World Cup, which has been called the Best World Cup Ever by almost everyone, has come to an end. Nobody could have asked for a better end to this great spectacle.

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