RIO DE JANEIRO – There are different levels of satisfaction in winning the World Cup. It is the peak of rapture for every victor, the greatest feeling in soccer, the pinnacle of a career, in many cases the end of a long and exhausting journey.
But for others it is merely the beginning, the fuel for more success, more nights like these, more chances to show they are the best. In the heady moments following Sunday's World Cup final, this was how it seemed for Germany, a team that was delighted with collecting the trophy but by no means surprised by it. It's a team that fully believes it can form a dynasty, much in the same way Spain reigned over soccer right up until its first game of this tournament.
Substitute Mario Goetze was the hero with the only goal against Argentina at the Maracana Stadium and Joachim Loew served as the wily architect of triumph, yet everyone in the Germany set-up has his place and knows it; and, most important of all, executes it with diligence and commitment.
RIO DE JANEIRO – It was an honor that felt like an insult, an accolade that Lionel Messi had no desire to either accept or celebrate. The world's best player had just been named the World Cup's greatest performer, and he wanted no part of it.
For Messi did not come to this tournament to take home the Golden Ball; he came to collect the golden trophy that anoints the World Cup's champion, one that now rests in German hands for the fourth time.
RIO DE JANEIRO – Germany became World Cup champion for the fourth time on Sunday night, and the first European team in history to clinch soccer's greatest prize on South American soil.
It did so courtesy of a winner deep into extra time from substitute Mario Goetze, who displayed a brilliant piece of skill to decide a contest of outstanding quality.
Goetze took a pass from the left from Andre Schurrle in the 113th minute of action, trapped it on his chest and swiveled it past Sergio Romero and into the Argentina net. The goal proved to be enough to give Germany a 1-0 victory.
"For us, it really is a dream come true," Goetze said. "I'm more than happy and I'm happy with the team and what happened here in Brazil. I guess it's more or less indescribable how I feel. It is absolutely sensational."
For the second World Cup final in a row scores were level after 90 minutes, but unlike when Spain beat the Netherlands four years ago this was no snoozefest.
RIO DE JANEIRO – For the third time in eight World Cups, the two finalists are Argentina and Germany, two countries with fine soccer traditions. To be fair, plenty of countries have fine soccer traditions, without having been able to turn it into anything tangible, so this one is a little bit extra special.
You have a player for the ages in Lionel Messi against a team for the ages in Germany and it is all going to go down at the iconic Maracana Stadium in a regal rumble for the biggest prize in soccer.
Even if you’re still pining for the United States after their valiant but ultimately doomed effort, or if you have little affection or affiliation to either of these countries, this is something well worth watching.
There is nothing in soccer quite like the World Cup final and after the 2010 version was duller than usual, we are due for a blockbuster. Heck, it is a big enough occasion that LeBron James made sure he got Decision II out of the way in time to be present for it.
Here are five things to look out for in Sunday’s epic showdown, which begins at 3 p.m. ET on ABC.
Messi vs. Mats
RIO DE JANEIRO – Jurgen Klinsmann's World Cup adventure ended nearly two weeks ago, but as his homeland, Germany, prepared for Sunday's final against Argentina, the U.S. coach was the recipient of some fulsome praise.
Just 24 hours from the biggest game of his life, veteran midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger took time to reflect and look back at where Germany's foundation to this title bid was laid. The root of it all, he said, began a decade ago with Klinsmann.
"We rejuvenated the team thanks to Joachim Loew and Jurgen Klinsmann in 2004," Schweinsteiger said. "And now we are reaping the rewards for the work they started."
RIO DE JANEIRO – Lionel Messi's life has been built toward this moment from childhood, even before he knew it himself.
Sunday's World Cup final isn't the last step of the journey, not at 27 years of age, not with further paths of domination to tread. But it is the most important step, the seminal one, the one that magnifies everything to 90 or 120 minutes of effort. And everything means just that.
For when Messi faces his ultimate challenge on this ultimate stage, when his Argentina side takes on Germany in this most magnificent of events, he will need to draw on each step, misstep, lesson and twist in the road that has led him to the crossroads of soccer history.
- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports16 days ago
RIO DE JANEIRO – Two nations go head to head for global soccer supremacy on Sunday, one seeking its fourth World Cup title, the other its third.
One is from Europe, the other from South America. One revolves around a brilliant individual, the other an unshakeable collective mindset. One got to the final with a seven-goal onslaught, the other through penalty kicks following a goalless stalemate.
Yet don’t think for a moment that Germany and Argentina are polar opposites with little in common. These two countries share a dramatic soccer history that saw their respective star-crossed paths mingle at moments of greatest triumph or strongest disappointment.
- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports17 days ago
RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil's World Cup capitulation was bad enough that it was always going to require a scapegoat. It looks like the host nation has found one.
Fred, a homegrown player and formerly a local hero, has borne as much of the brunt as anyone over the team's 7-1 semifinal defeat to Germany despite having little responsibility on defense.
Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is expected to drop the center forward from the starting lineup for Saturday's third-place playoff against the Netherlands in Brasilia, as Brazil desperately tries to regain some pride and finish the tournament strongly.
[Photos: Brazil's drubbing by Germany in headlines]
- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports17 days ago
RIO DE JANEIRO – Javier Mascherano will find out Thursday if he has been cleared to play for Argentina in Sunday's World Cup final against Germany following a sickening clash of heads during Wednesday's semifinal victory over the Netherlands.
Mascherano collided with Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and slumped to the ground in the first half Wednesday. Video replays sparked speculation that he had suffered a concussion given his dazed reaction after stumbling over while clutching his forehead.
After only a cursory exam on the pitch and a couple of minutes' rest, Mascherano returned to the pitch at Arena de Sao Paulo and completed the remainder of the 120 minutes. He was outstanding for the rest of the game as Argentina went on to win 4-2 on penalty kicks, and he may have saved the Argentines with a brilliant block to deny Arjen Robben in the final moments of regulation time.
Mascherano was examined by the team doctor after the match and was due to be attended to again on Thursday.