With an estimated audience of over 800 million watching on television across the globe and a lucky 74,738 holding tickets at Estadio do Maracana in Rio De Janeiro, the 2014 World Cup got under way in Brazil Sunday afternoon. Germany was favored to beat the Argentines who were led by their superstar Lionel Messi on to the pitch at Brazil's signature stadium. Germany suffered a hiccup before the game began when it was learned that midfielder Sami Khedira suffered a thigh injury during warmups and was replaced by Christoph Kramer.
Temperature at kickoff was a beautiful 26 degrees Celsius under sunny skies and 65 percent humidity, perfect conditions for the final game of this glorious month long tournament. Germany had the uniform of choice and elected to go with its all white shirts and shorts trimmed in black, red and yellow. Argentina had to wear the dark blue jerseys with white trim instead of the Carolina blue stripes with white they are used to.
The first 10 minutes featured the usual feeling-out process between these two great nations. Messi had the best offensive surge during in the period sprinting down the far side of the pitch, outrunning Mats Hummels to make a pass near the right goal post but no one was there.
Argentina knew that to beat Germany, they would have to create space for Messi to operate and Germany new that if their midfielders could create offensive opportunities like they did against Brazil, they would win.
In the 17th minute, Khedira's replacement, Christoph Kramer, could have been concussed when he took a shot to the head from the shoulder of Ezequiel Garay. He walked off, cleared the cobwebs and came back after a few moments on the sideline.
In the 21st minute, Toni Kroos made a huge mistake trying to boot the ball back to Manuel Neuer. Gonzalo Higuain collected the ball and had a wide-open shot but missed and the Germans breathed a sigh of relief.
Argentina seemed to learn a lesson from the loss by Brazil to Germany. The men in blue played tight defense and never allowed Germany to mount a credible attack to get either Philipp Lamm free on the right side, or Mesut Oezil free on the left side, good strategy.
In the 29th minute, the first yellow card was issued to Bastian Schweinsteiger for tripping Ezequiel Lavezzi, but the replays showed no trip.
A minute later, Higuain scored but was ruled offsides. And in the 31st minute, medics had to help Kramer off the field because he was still dazed from that earlier shoulder to the head. He should never have been allowed back on the field and it's clear he was concussed.
Two minutes of additional time for the first half and Germany almost had the lead when Toni Kroos with the corner kick. Benedikt Howedes was in perfect position with the header and it hits the post. The half ended 0-0.
The second half began with Argentina feeling good about its first half effort. Germany appeared to look fine as well. The men in blue went on the attack and in the 47th minute. Messi took a pass onside and had Manuel Neuer dead to rights, but kicked the ball just wide. Speaking of Messi, it looks like he has "heavy legs". He looked slow early in the second half. In the 57th minute, Neuer and Higuain collided. The Argentine forward got the worst of that clash as the 6'4" 215-pound German goal keeper's knee nailed the smaller man in the jaw.
So we went to overtime. Germany had never lost a World Cup game in overtime. Sergio Romero in the 91st minute made a great save of Andre Schurrle at point black range. Moments later, Rodrigo Palacio, a replacement for Higuain, had a chance but it went awry. The first overtime came and went and you could see that both sides were exhausted. In the 109th minute, Sergio Aguero nails Bastian Schweinsteiger under the right eye. He was cut and bleeding badly. There would be no yellow card for Aguero and Argentina dodged a huge bullet. The referee Nicola Rizzoli of Italy missed a number of calls, including some great slo-mo shots of jersey grabbing to impede progress.
And then, in the 113th minute, the second overtime, Andre Schuerrle zipped down the left side of the pitch, sends a honey of a crossing pass toward the Argentine goal. Super-sub Mario Goetze collected the orb off his chest and in one step, drilled it past Sergio Romero for the goal. Angela Merkle, the President of Germany cheered and the huge throng of German fans in attendance erupted. In the final minute, Lionel Messi had a chance to tie it up but his free kick sailed over the crossbar. A few moments later, Germany had won the World Cup of 2014.
It was not a great performance, but Argentina played a pretty good game to dull the German machine. It is the fourth World Cup for The Bundesrepublic Deutschland, the first since reunification for the German republic. It was a tough loss for the men in Blue. All hail Germany, I picked them from the start and they proved me right. Mario Goetze, a substitute, was my man of the match for his game-winning goal. James Rodriguez of Columbia gets the golden boot award as the tournaments highest goal scorer.
Now that the World Cup is over, I must say that blogging has been a blast. I've seen 60 of 64 games from start to finish and have the notes to prove it. I hope my words will inspire all Americans to embrace the beautiful game of soccer. We have a plethora of great athletes in our country. We should be able to field a team that can win the World Cup. Let's get started. Cheers everyone.
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Since joining ABC7 in 1982, Jim Rose has become a major force in Chicago sports broadcasting. He currently serves as sports anchor/reporter for ABC7 News in Chicago's top-rated 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. newscasts. He is an avid fan of the World Cup! Learn more about Jim
World Cup 2014: Germany, as predicted, wins the 2014 FIFA World Cup
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