It took more than 110 minutes for a breakthrough to finally come. But when it did, the name Mario Gotze was forever etched into the history of World Cup Finals.
A late second half substitute for the event’s all-time leading goal scorer Miroslav Klose, Gotze created a bit of his own offensive magic, softly placing a shot past Argentina goal keeper Sergio Romero in the 113th to send Germany to its fourth World Cup title.
It was a fitting end to a remarkable run for the Germans.
Throughout the World Cup, Germany had excelled in possession and they did so again versus Argentina, holding the ball a whopping 64 percent of the time. Even with their vast edge in possession, Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos and the rest of a potent German offensive attack struggled to find offense against a gritty and determined Argentina defense.
The Argentinians meanwhile preferred the counter-attack route, seemingly relying on Lionel Messi’s individual skills to generate offense. Gonzalo Higuain nearly gave Argentina their own breakthrough midway through first half before shanking a shot well wide of Manuel Neuer’s goal.
Higuain’s miss summarized Argentina’s day offensively, as of the 10 shots coach Alejandro Sabella’s team attempted, none actually found the target. It’s awfully hard to win when 120 minutes of play doesn’t generate a single shot on goal.
With their offense failing to find the target, fatigue began to set in for Argentina. The Albiceleste’s offensive attacks became fewer while Die Mannschaft’s became frequent. Muller, Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Andre Schurrle all looked dangerous in extra time, forcing Argentina into a distinctly defensive posture for the balance of overtime.
In other words, Germany proved itself a deserving champion. Except for their surprising struggles against both Ghana and Algeria, the Germans were composed, efficient and on-target in their seven games. They scored goals a variety of ways and had eight different players find the net during the tournament.
As for Argentina, a title drought that began in 1993 will continue for at least a few more years.
Messi meanwhile is left to continue pursuing the World Cup title that has eluded him during his storied career. Now 27 years of age, the four-time World Player of the Year undoubtedly knows his window to claim a world title is closing. It’s a sobering realization for soccer fans around the world to consider given all the accolades that already appear on his resume.
On the other end stands coach Joachim Loew and his German team. After coming up short at the European Championships the past four competitions along with the World Cups of 2002, 2006 and 2010, Germany is again on top. It’s a testament to both their skill and perseverance that the Germans are again world champions.
Will Messi and Argentina show the same in four years? The world will find out in due time.
Until then, Germany will bask in the glow of a well-earned fourth star on their crest.