The stats tell the story. Argentina - ten attempts on goal, none on target. Germany - ten attempts on goal, five on target.
Argentina had enough chances to win the game in normal time but Germany won their fourth World Cup with a brilliant piece of finishing from Mario Gotze seven minutes from the end of extra time. Argentina missed a series of goal scoring opportunities, including ‘one-on-one’ chances for Gonzalo Giguain, Rodrigo Palacio and even Messi. All of them went wide of the goal.
On small margins and all that. This mornings papers are full of a new era of German dominance in the mould of Spain but this could so easily have been a story about Argentina winning in Brazils back yard to rub salt into wounds for their neighbours.
The difference could have been a simple as Angel Di Maria recovering in time or even having Tevez in the squad. The referee, in tune with the rest of his colleagues this tournament, was excessively lenient. Both sides could easily have seen red cards, not least for Benedikt Howedes studs-up challenge on Pablo Zabaleta and Sergo Aguero’s elbow on Schweinsteiger.
It all came down to one moment – Mario Gotze’s brilliantly-taken goal in the 112th minute. The Bayern Munich midfielder was been a late substitute for Miroslav Klose at the end of full time.
So Germany add that fourth star above the badge but it could easily have been Argentina adding their third. It’s been a great tournament and both teams contributed to a compelling, and close fought final.
At lot has been said about the rebuilding of German football after the, relative, failure around 2002. As coach Joachim Löw reminded us last night.
“In 2000 and 2004, German football was down and out, we went out in the group phases so we took decisive steps and invested more in the players’ education”.
And he also voiced what’s been on many minds. Can this German team achieved the same long-term dominance that Spain has enjoyed for the last 5-6 years?
“And it is a relatively young squad … with only Miroslav Klose – who is likely to retire from international football on a high – and third-choice keeper Roman Wiedenfeller over the age of 30. I think this title will give us a push for the future”.
“Look at Gotze, (Thomas) Muller, (Mesut) Ozil and (Marco) Reus, who wasn’t here – there are a lot of players who can still achieve a lot in their careers.
This result really has been over a decade in the making and Germany, who finish with a joint record 18 goals, will always remember Rio de Janeiro with pride and consider it a greater achievement than even Bern in 1954, Munich in 1974 or Rome in 1990.