The 2014 World Cup final between Germany and Argentina followed the pattern of so many of the matches in the knockout phase of the tournament with strong defensive units assuming superiority over their attacking counterparts, but the action was still enthralling for most of the match. Mario Gotze’s expert finish deep into extra-time to seal a 1-0 victory was perhaps a fitting finale to a game in which the Germans were arguably the better team both during the 120 minutes play and throughout the competition in Brazil.
Having organised the building of their own headquarters in southern Brazil prior to the tournament, Germany ensured that their preparations would be as professional as possible and after beating Portugal 4-0 in their first fixture, they always appeared to be the team most likely to succeed in the tournament. A team with few weaknesses and arguably the best goalkeeper in the World in Manuel Neuer, they remained unbeaten throughout the tournament and were capable of exposing any chinks in the opposition armoury.
The 7-1 defeat of Brazil in the semi-final may have earned negative publicity about the collapse in confidence and flair within the Brazilian squad, but there was more than an element of ruthlessness in the manner by which the sweeping German passing movements exposed both the host midfield and defensive formations.
Argentina were never likely to succumb to such penetrating play as they had not conceded a goal throughout the knockout phase and had built their pattern of play on counter attacking football utilising the penetrative running of talisman Lionel Messi.
The only problem for Argentina prior to the final was their lack of goals during the tournament with only two being scored after the group stage. Thus, a low scoring game was always likely and although there were sporadic chances for both teams to break the deadlock, neither goalkeeper was seriously tested during normal time.
With penalties looming for the second successive game for Argentina, all eyes were on Messi to produce that one glimmer of magic, but he was not helped by the relative mediocrity of his fellow attackers. A season of niggling injuries had diluted the sharpness of Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain has yet to prove that he is a true World class striker.
For Germany, eight different players have netted during this tournament, and this versatility was to prove the difference between the two teams. Argentina were not just watching one player but there were several threats in the opposition ranks with substitute Gotze finally claiming the winning goal.
Germany proved throughout the tournament that they are not just a one man band and have balance within the squad with several players capable of finding the net. A considerable work ethic combined with their undoubted flair has ensured that they have emerged as worthy winners of the 2014 tournament and there may be more success ahead in the coming years.