Well, after England went out – so early, it seems like another age – I adopted Germany as my team, although I thought Brazil might do it, with home advantage, Neymar and all that.
So last night I was feeling remarkably close to how I would feel if England were in the final. Why? I just think the Germans are playing fantastic, joyous and admirable football at the moment. At club and national level.
No antagonism towards Argentina. With Messi, Aguero, De Michelis, Zabaleta, Mascherano, I liked them too. A brilliant display by Messi could have lit up the whole tournament.
But it was not to be.
I thought the first half was a good game with open football and chances for both sides. The best fell to Argentina’s Higuain – and he put it wide. Aaah, such a missed opportunity! The second half was more attritional and nervous, and so we went to extra time. Throughout the game, Germany had the better possession, marshalled by the imperious Schweinsteiger, but Argentina had chances. In extra time, Palacio just didn’t have the legs (despite being a sub) to get on the end of a simple chance. And so we moved on to the decisive moment. A break down the left by Schurrle, a good cross, and then Goetze, on as sub, controlling the ball superbly with his chest and volleying in from an acute angle. Awesome technique. A goal absolutely deserving to win a World Cup final.
Germany 1 Argentina 0.
No doubt that the best team won the World Cup. Germany have been threatening this for a while. They are a team with barely a weakness. A team. I really like the way Thomas Muller plays, in midfield or upfront, searching for space, the Raumdeuter. Schweinsteiger, Khedira (injured at the last moment last night), Kroos and Ozil are a superb, flexible midfield/attack, with Muller. Philip Lahm is the best right back in the world. And Manuel Neuer must be the best goalkeeper. Hummels and Boateng are as good as any centre back pairing and Hoewedes does a solid job at left back. Klose at centre forward was a weakness, but gave the team shape and did break the all-time World Cup goal scoring record.
For Argentina, the story is inevitably about Messi. He won the Golden Ball award for best player of the tournament. Absurd. He looked embarrassed when he got it. He played well enough until the later stages, but he didn’t make a difference. James Rodriguez, for Colombia, did until the quarter finals. He won the Golden Boot, with six goals. But he didn’t take Colombia past Brazil in the quarters, so can’t be the best of the tournament. For me that has to be one from Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Kroos, Neuer or Muller. Robben of Holland in with a shout, but for me it would have to be a German. Muller would be my choice. Five goals and always in the play. Phenomenal effort throughout.
What will we remember from this World Cup?
First, the glory of Brazil. The scenery, the stadiums, the crowds, the beaches, the love of football. Magnificent.
And inspired by all of that, it was a tournament of good attacking football, until the nerves of the later stages took over. With one exception of course…
That result. Brazil 1 Germany 7. It will be the one thing that is remembered about this World Cup. The most traumatic event in Brazilian football history. How will they react?
We had the Suarez biting incident too. But that has been forgotten, largely, through the brilliance of so much of the football. Suarez was in denial for a few days then confessed and apologised when he needed to do so to get his transfer to Barcelona. Cynical.
What about England? Remember them? A team in transition, they didn’t do that badly. They could have beaten Uruguay, but squandered chances. Likewise Costa Rica. I don’t think we should be too hard on them. Let’s see how the Euros go. Some promising young players. They should be asking now, how can we learn from Germany?
So life moves on. Another month and the Premier League starts again. Very few players from our league, English or foreign, shone in this World Cup. Time for some humility?
Not much chance of that!