( Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ) Argentina and Germany would engage in a classic World Cup final that will be remembered. Lionel Messi would try and cement his legacy in the game of soccer and win Argentina their 3rd World Cup.The game was billed as Messi - The Machine. But this German team had too much talent and was the best unit in the World Cup.
Argentina put up a valiant fight, but in the 113th minute were foiled by young up start Mario Gotze. He would score an amazing full volley that would win Germany the World Cup, once again, by a scoreline of 1-0. Tensions were high early on as the players exited the tunnels, and sang their national anthems loud and proud. Everyone sang except for one man. That man was Lionel Messi. Messi knew that with one great performance, he could immortalize himself in the game forever.
Germany was shocked when they found out Sami Kedhia picked up a pre-match injury and would be unavailable to start the match. In his place was Kristoph Kramer who would later exit the match in the 30th minute being replaced by Andre Schurrle because of a head injury.
Germany started the match much better, forcing problems for Argentina on their flanks and putting them under pressure. However, more and more into the first half Messi and Ezequiel Lavezzi of Argentina started shifting the complexion of the match in Argentinas's favor. In the 20th minute Messi set Gonzalo Higuain up with a golden chance, one on one with the keeper, that Higuain scoffed at, and hit the ball far too wide. The match would stay in Argentina's favor for the remainder of the first half until the 1st minute of stoppage time at the end of the half when Benedict Howedes standing on the six-yard box would soar above the Argentinian defense and send a header rocketing off the post and into Sergio Romero's hands.
The first half was well balanced, but Argentina had the better of the chances and their players were more dangerous in attack. The start of the second half saw Lavezzi taken out for Sergio Aguero, which was a surprise to many considering how well Lavezzi had played. Argentina came flying out of the gates in complete control, which earned them and Messi his chance to immortalize himself. A through ball that sent Messi in on goal gave him a brilliant chance that he just sliced inches wide of the net. It was a game of cat and mouse as both Argentina and Germany looked tired, and neither of them wanted to make a mistake that they would regret forever. Not much happened in the second half because the game got very defensive, and it became a massive midfield battle for the most part.
Late in the game Sergio Aguero got one more chance for Argentina, but Matt Hummels slid in on him and took the ball off his foot beautifully. And then just like everyone has seen many times this World Cup, the game was going to Extra-Time. Argentina and Germany were both completely mentally and physically exhausted, but they made it this far and neither team was going to lie down and allow their World Cup dreams to end in the final.
The players would get their drinks, and with tensions running high throughout the Maracana, the Argentinian's and German's would take the field in the most important final 30 minutes of their life. Andre Schurrle would get on the end of a delicious cross but would fire the ball right at Sergio Romero making Romero look superhuman. Romero then immediately took the ball and hurled it downfield starting an Argentinian counterattack that would see Messi send a ball through to Rodrigo Palacios, who would be one one one with the best keeper in the world Manuel Neuer, but Palacios would chip the ball over him and wide of the net.
The rest of the 1st period each team would just pass the ball around and not make any effort to get forward. The period would end and now the players were set to play in the most important final 15 minutes of their career. They knew penalties were looming and they did not want their World Cup to be decided that way. The second half of extra-time saw tons of drama, and neither of these teams were going to allow their World Cup to go without a fight.
In the 109th minute there was a crazy scene where Sergio Aguero nailed Bastian Schweinsteiger bloodying his face. But that wouldn't be a huge difference maker because in the 113th moment, the young Bayern Munich star and future of German soccer had different plans. He was fed a brilliant cross by Schurrle which would come right to his chest; he would chest it down, and from an impossible angle, swing around and volley it into the bottom right corner giving Germany the 1-0 lead. It was an absolutely brilliant goal that would send German fans into a state of euphoria.
In the 120th minute Messi would draw a costless kick and had a chance to immortalize himself and send the game to penalty kicks. But it was not to be. Messi's chance would be sent way into the sky, and German players would swarm Mario Gotze because they had won the World Cup.
It was an absolutely fascinating World Cup with tons of moments and big time teams, but at the end of the day the best team won. The World Cup finally goes back to Germany, and this "machine" will be remembered forever.
*Article co-written by Patrick Chaves*