Player of the Round:
In a final where players on both sides were arguably on par with one another, cancelling each other out, the best man for this award should thus go to Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger. Having to deal with Sami Khedira’s late withdrawal, Joachim Löew surprisingly included youngster Christoph Kramer in the Real Madrid star’s place, instead of eventual substitute match-winner Mario Götze. Kramer went off halfway through the first-half with concussion, forcing Löew into another reshuffle in midfield. With Schweinsteiger’s midfield partner Toni Kroos only having a decent, solid yet unspectacular game, it was up to the German no.7 to step up and lead his side, or at least his side’s midfield. Schweinsteiger may not have looked too spectacular either, but it was him who got the Germans ticking and his calming influence helped Germany remain composed and in control. Most said Kroos would be key to victory, but instead it was a 29-year old “old head” who steered the German boat into World Cup history.
Shock of the Round:
Some may view this as Brazil’s second capitulation in a week, this time to Netherlands in the 3rd/4th place playoff, but instead this honour should go to the several golden chances missed by the Argentineans to win it all in normal time. First up was Gonzalo Higuain. Normally so deadly, the Napoli forward was coming back from an offside position when Kroos somehow diverted his backwards header past his own defenders and onto the path of Higuain. Somehow though, the former Real Madrid player could not even find the target with only Manuel Neuer in his way. In the second half, the Argentineans manage to put Lionel Messi through on goal, on his favoured left peg, but alas, the Barcelona magician contrived to fire past Neuer’s far post. Last but not least, in the first period of extra time, Mat Hummels misjudged a long punt, allowing the ball to fall to substitute Rodrigo Palacio. The Internazionale striker could have just poked the ball, but instead tried to do it the hard way and lift it over a rather huge goalkeeper in Neuer. Is it too much to say that Neuer’s physical stature and reputation in the game made these three Argentineans doubt themselves to the point they tried to be too accurate?
Goal of the Round:
Which else? It just had to be Götze’s winner in second half of extra time. After a purposeful run by fellow super sub Andre Schürrle down the left side, the Chelsea winger managed to find a perfect cross that found the Bayern playmaker’s chest. He only had to take one touch, before firing past Sergio Romero and permanently sealing his place in German folklore. The buildup from Schürrle was magnificent, the cross simply perfect, the touch by Götze exquisite, and his finishing was top-drawer – a goal fitting to win any final.
Effect of the Round:
Well, obviously, this German side is permanently etched in their and World Cup history. However, as this final could never have lived up to the semifinal thrashing Germany delivered to the host nation, it is very likely that the German public and football world will associate this World Cup victory with their 7-1 victory over Brazil. Sadly for the Argentineans, Messi could not inspire his nation to their greatest triumph and he will no doubt look back at this as his greatest opportunity to do so.
Do you think the Germans were deserved winners? Is Philipp Lahm one of the greatest underrated players now? Tell me what you think in the comments below!