Sunday, 13 July 2014


The World Cup final, it really needs no introduction. Welcome to my latest blog post, and it's a LIVE Commentary for tonight's game, the conclusion to what has been arguably the best World Cup yet. Germany up against Argentina; the winner wins it all.

The grandest stage of them all, bigger than their respective domestic leagues, even bigger than the Champions League - the biggest and best trophy to win. The World Cup itself.

Here are the team line-ups for tonight's match - 

Germany: Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Hummels, Howedes, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Muller, Kroos, Ozil and Klose.

Subs: Zieler, Weidenfeller, Grosskreutz, Ginter, Schurrle, Podolski, Draxler, Durm, Mertesacker, Gotze and Kramer.

Argentina: Romero, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Rojo, Biglia, Mascherano, Perez, Higuain, Messi and Lavezzi.

Subs: Orion, Andujar, Campagnaro, Gago, Di Maria, Rodriguez, Augusto Fernandez, Federico Fernandez, Palacio, Alvarez, Aguero and Basanta.

Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (from Italy)

19:45 - You have to give credit to all the hard work done behind the scenes, to make sure that everything runs smoothly for this tournament, especially the big one tonight. Nicely done.

19:50 - And it's about to begin. 10 minutes left, until the 20th World Cup final. 

19:51 - Here is a recap of both teams; how they got to where they are tonight, the final.

19:53 - Cameras are showing both teams as they make the long walk out of the tunnel. An especially good look of Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, one of the best players ever to grace a football pitch has the chance to cement himself as the best player of all-time among all of the other footballing greats.

19:54 - A picture of what both teams are playing for tonight.
Former Spain captain Carles Puyol and model Gisele Bundchen present the trophy, pitchside
19:55 - German national anthem now. Klose starts, in what probably will be his last tournament for the Germans.

19:57 - Argentina now. It would be so big if they could win the World Cup, especially on enemy (Brazilian) soil tonight.

19:58 - Pre-match handshakes begin, both teams are itching to kick-off. Argentina were thrashed 4-0 back in 2010, let's hope for a more open and overall exciting match tonight!

19:59 - And having a look at the team line-ups, you might be wondering where Real Madrid defensive-midfielder Sami Khedira is, he was injured during the pre-match warm-up and is consequently replaced by 23-year-old Christoph Kramer; his first ever competitive start for Germany! What a stage.

20:00 - You ready? I certainly am. And it begins. Argentina kick-off.

1: Argentina playing many men behind the ball, as Germany look to keep possession in the opposite half. 

2: Germany free-kick, as Muller is clattered onto the floor by the oncoming run from Sporting Lisbon defender Marcus Rojo.

3: Muller, Ozil, Kroos, Schweinsteiger, Kramer and Lahm all speaking about the spot-kick, to be taken.

4: The resulting shot is blocked by the Argentinian free-kick wall, and they clear the danger away.

5: Muller with an ambitious through ball into the box, Romero able to catch and collect the low cross as Argentina attempt to counter attack.

6: Muller with another cross attempt into the box, but no team-mates are able to latch onto the delivery and Romero comfortably holds onto the ball.

8: Messi shows a quick snippet of what he can bring to the Argentina side, bursting with pace down the flank past Hummels before his resulting cross fails to find a team-mate in space and Schweinsteiger reads the play well to clear away.

9: Good low cross into the area by Zabaleta, who beats his man on the overlap before whipping in a ball into space; Lavezzi and Higuain both fall to ground as they slide and miss the ball completely. That was a good chance there.

12: Good tracking back by Messi to help Demichelis on the flank, as Schweinsteiger wins the ball from a mis-placed pass from the Manchester City defender.

13: Germany have another free-kick in a dangerous area of the field as Demichelis charges into Klose and clips into the back of the experienced striker's heel.

14: Kroos stands over the set-piece, with 4 Germany players waiting patiently for the referee's whistle..... good clearance away by Zabaleta who gets the ball to safety.

14: Good defensive header from Demichelis to block Schweinsteiger's attempted cross into the area.

15: Germany corner, taken by Kroos.... and Argentina clear the ball away.

16: Germany pass the ball out of play with Kramer down on the ground, after many protests from Argentina players to stop play.

17: Ouch! Replays show that Kramer was hit in a collision with Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay; and he looks dazed after that.

20: WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY! Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain has a golden chance to break the deadlock, but he fires his strike wide. How did he miss that?

The opportunity came after an accidental headed back-pass from Kroos fell straight into his path, but it spins into the advertising board and Neuer is under no pressure to kick the ball out from the goal-kick.
HOW! Higuain missed the best chance of the game so far

21: Still can't believe Higuain missed that chance, it should be 1-0 to Argentina really. Anyways, the game's still going on and Germany are having all of the possession. 

24: Germany are dominating possession and keeping the ball, but fair play to Argentina who are doing well to keep them at bay so far. 

25: Mascherano and Demichelis are holding off Klose and Muller well enough so far, but we will wait until the second-half begins to see if they can do more of the same. 

27: Late reflex save by Romero, to deny a good through ball dink over-the-top of the Argentina defence on the edge of the area by Phillip Lahm, Muller runs towards the rebound but the linesman flags for offside.

28: Replays show that it was the correct decision, well done to the linesman for that spot.

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is given the first yellow card of the final after chopping down Lavezzi who was sprinting on the counter attack.

29: GOAL! Wait.. no GOAL! A great through ball from the flank by midfielder Enzo Perez, finds Higuain unmarked inside the area, he taps the ball into the bottom corner of the net and sprints away to celebrate, but eventually realises that his shot was in-fact OFFSIDE.

30: Replays show that it was the correct decision, still 0-0.

31: A real shame now, as Kramer is no longer able to continue after that collision earlier on in the first-half. 

Germany SUB - 
Christoph Kramer OFF
Andre Schurrle ON

32: Pace injection coming on, Schurrle has made a real impact off the substitutes' bench in the past few matches.

33: Naughty foul by Schalke defender Howedes, he sticks a leg out and catches Zabaleta's ankle - that looks painful but the City full-back gets up.

34: The referee brandishes a card to Howedes, and he can have no real complaints. 2 yellow cards, both for the Germans. 

35: Argentina go on the counter attack with Lavezzi and Messi both weaving their way past the German defenders on the break; Messi's attempted final ball into a team-mate in the area is quickly cleared away and Argentina win a corner.

36: Lavezzi whips a cross into the box, but it is too high and close to Neuer who jumps and collects the delivery before throwing powerfully towards the flank.

37: GOOD SAVE by Romero! The Argentinian goalkeeper reacts quickly to parry away Schurrle's effort on-goal inside the area; but the linesman on the far side flags for offside despite Ozil ducking underneath the ball to avoid the offside call being given.

38: It doesn't really feel like a World Cup final, I can't explain it though - it's been a great tournament nonetheless. 

39: Messi weaves his magic again, beats Hummels and almost scores in the process as he speeds into the area - a last-ditch clearance from defender Jerome Boateng ensures that Messi does not break the deadlock.

40: 5 minutes left of the first-half and Germany look rattled and annoyed, not making the most of their half-chances as of yet.

42: A promising counter attack is quashed by Romero as he does well to get his body behind the ball and holds onto the ball to deny Kroos' low but tame effort on-goal, despite good footwork from Muller and Ozil on the edge of the area.

43: Germany's defence looks vulnerable whenever Messi and Lavezzi get the ball at their feet.

45: Germany corner, as the fourth official signals for 2 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the half. 

45+1: OFF THE POST! Two consecutive corners for Germany, the second of which rattles off the post as Howedes goes narrowly close to opening the scoring with a power header past Romero. 
Close but no goal: Howedes hits the post with a power header from a corner
45+2: The referee blows his whistle to end the first-half, an entertaining watch as I expected.

20:48 - Thoroughly enjoyable first-half, there could easily be 3 or 4 goals in the match so far. 

20:49 - Slightly surprising that Germany are playing a high-line with their vulnerable defenders on the counter attack, but both teams look dangerous when they are on the attack. 

20:50 - Messi and Lavezzi are the danger men for Argentina, but they have failed to create many chances apart from on the break.

20:51 - Higuain had the best chance of the half for sure, he should have scored with the first effort and his eventual goal was offside. Typical really.

21:03 - The second-half is about to start, and Argentina are making their first substitution of the match: 
Argentina SUB - 
Ezequiel Lavezzi OFF
Sergio Aguero ON

45: Slightly disappointed to see Lavezzi come off, if any attacking-minded player should be replaced it should probably be Higuain but Aguero comes on for the last 45 minutes (unless extra time is needed).

47: CLOSE! Lionel Messi with a shot narrowly wide of Neuer's post, it looked as if it was going in aswell! His effort trickles wide of the post, and Germany are let off.

49: A hint of doubt is starting to creep in, perhaps Argentina will rue their missed chances? Not saying that Messi's effort was as clear-cut as Higuain's in the first-half but Germany only need one chance to score - as seen by Howedes' effort which struck the post in the dying seconds of stoppage time earlier on.

53: Schurrle is brought down on the edge of the area by Zabaleta; play continues on the advantage rule by the referee but the Chelsea forward reacts angrily to the decision from the ref, who let Germany continue on the attack, before the ball was cleared for a corner. 

54: Corner-kick comes of nothing; and Argentina clear.

56: Germany are awarded a free-kick in the area after Neuer does well to sprint towards the ball and accidentally catches Higuain's face when he punches the ball clear, contacting Higuain's face with his trailing knee as a result.

57: Higuain goes to ground, gets up, protests and goes back down again. He is treated by the physio on the far side before he shouts at the fourth official on the touchline. Okay then.

59: Germany have dominated possession, had more passes (376 in the game so far) and better passing accuracy (82%) than their counterparts tonight - no goals to show for it. 

61: Germany go on the counter attack; Schurrle bursting forward past Zabaleta and fires in a low cross into the box - the ball bounces off the floor and hits Ozil on the way out for a goal-kick.

62: Unlucky there from the Germans, they almost scored from a chance which was created out of nothing.

63: First yellow card of the day for Argentina defender Javier Mascherano with a stretching sliding tackle on Klose, he doesn't argue with the referee who books the former Liverpool player.

65: Another yellow card for Argentina, Sergio Aguero collides with Schweinsteiger near the touchline and drops him onto the floor in a heap. The referee is quick to give the Manchester City substitute striker a booking.

66: Now the game is starting to get a bit more fierce, more sliding tackles flying in and the game is stopping quite frequently as I type this. Klose with a late tackle on Biglia.

68: I digress quickly to give my answer for the "Goal of the Tournament" - there have been some absolute stunners, but I will have to pick James Rodriguez against Uruguay in the Last 16.
My goal of the tournament: Rodriguez vs Uruguay

69: The control, the touch, the execution, the finish. Superb strike.

70: But to be fair, there have been many good strikes.

71: Notably, former Everton midfielder Tim Cahill's wonder strike against Holland in the group stage. That was something special.

72: Also, Manchester United striker Robin van Persie's ambitious long-range header from 18 yards out, which had Casillas scrambling into the back of the net.

73: And lastly (because I'm still watching the match), Messi's solo goals against Iran and Nigeria. Magical Messi.

74: Messi does well to get past three German defenders with quick feet and fast movement onto the edge of the area, but his resulting shot is wide of Neuer's goal. The bright spark of the team.

75: FACT - Argentina are yet to be behind in any game at this year's World Cup.

76: Cameras are showing that Palacio is warming up on the touchline, getting ready to come on.

77: Argentina SUB - 
Gonzalo Higuain OFF
Rodrigo Palacio ON

78: Good distribution by Neuer to throw the ball into the path of Muller on the flank, after a quick burst by Messi is cleared away after the German defenders all swarm onto him; 5 German players were needed to get him off the ball. Wow.

79: Germany are lurking in the area.... goal-kick for Argentina is given by the referee after Muller is clattered onto the floor by Biglia, as a cross is whipped into the box.

81: Super passing play between Lahm and Ozil, the Arsenal midfielder passes across to Kroos after a neat cut-back - but the Bayern midfielder's effort is again tame and low into the corner, for Romero to save. 

82: Ozil is upset after the referee waves play on, he is brought down by Mascherano near the edge of the area and the ball trickles out for a goal-kick.

83: Goal-kick temporarily halted, thanks to a pitch invader. 

84: Argentina are preparing another substitution, and it is a defensive change. Gago is getting ready to come on.

85: Argentina SUB -
Enzo Perez OFF 
Fernando Gago ON

86: Gago comes on as fresh legs for Argentina, the possibility of extra-time is looking more and more likely now. Meanwhile Germany are set to make another sub, Gotze is preparing to come on and is waiting patiently on the touchline.

87: Two good defensive tackles in quick succession by Jerome Boateng and then Bastian Schweinsteiger to block the oncoming runs from Messi and Biglia into the German area.

88: Germany SUB -
Miroslav Klose OFF 
Mario Gotze ON

89: Gotze replaces Klose, and Muller is expected to play in the middle of attack with Gotze on the flank or just behind him in the hole.

90: The fourth official signals for 3 minutes of stoppage time to be played.

90+1: Great piece of skill by Messi to first win the ball in the opposing half before threading through a long-range through ball into the area, but Boateng does well to tackle and clear away.

90+2: Gotze has a long-range shot comfortably held by Romero, before Argentina go on the counter attack and Hummels does well to keep his eye on the ball and block the oncoming run from the flank into the area.

90+3: The referee blows his whistle for full-time.

21:54 - 0-0 after 90 minutes, and time for extra-time. The players will be tired and emotionally drained, but it will be interesting to see how they respond now. 

21:55 - No goals scored in an interesting 90 minutes of football, and this is the third consecutive World Cup final that has gone to extra-time.

21:56 - You'd probably expect Germany to comfortably win the match if it did go to penalties; Romero was Argentina's goalkeeping hero in the semi-finals so this next half-an-hour will be interesting again.

21:57 - My Man Of The Match for the 90 minutes of football would have to be Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta, he has made the most tackles on the field of play tonight with 8 so far and has worked hard for his team. 

Looks dangerous on the flank whenever he goes forward and he knows how to defend.

90: The referee blows his whistle to start extra time, and both sides go on the counter attack almost instantly after the whistle has been blown. 

91: First, Schurrle has a one-two layoff with Gotze and his teasing shot is parried away by Romero - before Argentina go on the counter attack and are denied by two excellent sliding blocks from defensive partnership Hummels and Boateng.

92: Those two have also been standout performers tonight, Hummels and Boateng. Looked solid at the back, 11 tackles between them tonight as of yet.

96: CHANCE! Another chance goes begging for the Argentianians, a great ball by Rojo into Palacio is chested down well, Neuer comes out to rush Palacio's shot and the goal is gaping - but Palacio panics and his chipped effort bounces out of play for a goal-kick, narrowly wide of the post.

97: If Argentina fail to go and win after that chance, they will seriously feel robbed. Germany have played well today but to be honest with you, Argentina could easily be 3-0 up if they had taken their chances. 

99: Good defensive work by Mascherano, he beats his marker to the ball before sliding in on Schweinsteiger who goes down, clutching his ankle.

100: Replays show that Mascherano slid in late with his studs onto Schweinsteiger, a painful one despite attempting to win ball possession there. 

101: A nervy finish perhaps? The Argentina supporters are desperately trying to push their team to score now, shouting loud in the Maracana stadium.

103: Cameras show both sets of supporters in the ground, they all look nervous.

105: The referee blows his whistle for half-time in extra time, with 15 minutes to go to settle this gripping final of the World Cup. 

Neither goalkeeper has been beaten so far tonight, and penalties look like a real possibility now.

106: Second-half of extra time has begun. Some really tired legs on the pitch now.

109: Wow. Argentina very lucky to still have 11 men on the field of play after that, two bad challenges in the space of a minute or so from the Argentines. 

110: First, Mascherano with a late tackle which could have easily resulted in his second yellow card of the match.

111: Then, Aguero with an aerial swipe at Schweinsteiger, hit him with an arm into the face and drew blood on the Bayern midfielder.

112: GOAL! Germany are ahead! Bayern Munich creative midfielder Mario Gotze breaks the deadlock in "Iniesta-style" with a superb touch and neat finish beyond Romero, who can only watch as he is beaten with a low strike which nestles into the bottom corner.

113: And now Argentina need to somehow find a way through and equalise, otherwise they will lose this game.

114: Just had a feeling that they would do this, have most of the chances and then not take them. 1-0 down, 5 minutes to play.

117: Germany are preparing for a substitution, defender Per Mertesacker getting ready to come on. 

119: Germany SUB -
Mesut Ozil OFF
Per Mertesacker ON

120: The fourth official signals for 2 minutes of stoppage time to be played, Schweinsteiger is down on the ground while clutching his hamstring after stretching to tackle for the ball in a dangerous position.

121: He gives away a free-kick in a dangerous area for Argentina, probably their last chance of the match.

122: It appears Schweinsteiger has cramp of some sort, he is getting treatment on the far side as Messi stands waiting patiently to take the set-piece.

123: Messi's resulting effort on-goal is well wide, his shot flies over the bar to ironic cheers from the Brazilian supporters in the ground tonight. 

124: After protests about time from the German subs on the bench, the referee eventually blows his whistle for full-time. 


Germany 1 Argentina 0 AET -
A solo goal and neat finish from Bayern Munich's wonderkid midfielder Mario Gotze (who is 22 years of age) gives the Germans their first World Cup victory for over 20 years against an unlucky Argentinian side who failed to take their chances and have paid the ultimate price as a result. 

An enthralling match to watch, a real shame that the realisation has sunk in that it is the end of the World Cup after this game. What a tournament though. 

Commiserations to Argentina, they have battled their way to the final but didn't take their chances tonight. Just wasn't their night.

22:47 - This may sound controversial, but I think that Messi is without a doubt the best player to ever grace a footballing pitch.

22:48 - They may argue that he needed to win a World Cup to prove himself, but I'm sure that he has done that throughout the tournament.

22:49 - Germany have deserved to win the World Cup this year, they have won all their matches apart from their 2-2 draw against African side Ghana.

22:50 - Cameras are showing Messi, he isn't sobbing on the pitch but he looks like he's thinking about something; he's done well this year.

22:55 -
Goalkeeper of the Tournament - Manuel Neuer of Germany.
Player Of The Tournament - Lionel Messi of Argentina.
Golden Ball Winner - James Rodriguez of Colombia.

23:00 - And now Argentina are walking up to the stage to receive their runners-up medals, after a warm and respectful reception from the German players, giving them a round of applause on the pitch.

23:01 - The world champions are walking up to the stage now, with Bastian Schweinsteiger leading them up to receive their medals and the World Cup trophy itself.

23:03 - Germany are not exactly an old team either, they have a lot of youth startlets who are up and coming in their side. 

23:04 - GERMANY ARE WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS! The media and photographers sit patiently on the pitch, waiting to get their turn to capture the beautiful moment as captain Phillip Lahm lifts the World Cup.
World champions: Germany lift the trophy after a tense finish, winning 1-0 after extra time.
23:05 - And a fascinating fact for you: 

FACT - Gotze becomes the FIRST player to come off the bench and score the winner in a World Cup final.

23:06 - Gotze's second goal at this year's World Cup, and what a time to score it. In the final, the biggest stage of them all.

23:08 - Disappointed that it's all over now, but the countdown to the official start of the Premier League has begun.

23:10 - 34 days until the start of the EPL, and you can bet your life savings that I will have coverage, commentaries, match reviews, analysis and more next season, in England and around Europe. 

23:12 - I will be back probably tomorrow or so, with another blog post (can't be revealed, must be kept in suspense..).

23:13 - Hope you enjoyed my LIVE Commentary tonight, it was a great game and Germany deserved to win the tournament overall despite a nervy finish in a match that could have ended much differently, if Argentina had taken their chances.