The South Americans’ two units of four across (midfield and defence) shifted well across the field as they retained their shape. The midfield got attracted and were sucked into the game as Germany stroked the ball around. They needed to stay solid and maintain the tactical discipline as the Germans pried for crevices.
Messi kept menacing on the right flank and threatened with each great run into the box. Higuain failed to convert a back pass by Kroos, in one of the two rare Germany mistakes. He hit the target after Lavezzi set him up but he was offside.
Argentina came stronger from the break, with Messi slicing his left-footed shot past Neuer and upright post. They began to thread passes to the front-runners, often playing long balls for Higuain to run to. Neuer almost decapitated the Argentinian striker as he rushed out of his penalty area to punch the ball to safety. While air-borne, his knee caught Higuain on the neck as they both tumbled to the ground.
Biglia became aggressive in midfield while Sergio Aguero squandered possession numerous times. Palacio came in to miss the chance of the tournament. Germany defended strongly and efficiently absorbing all the pressure. The ball fell kindly to Muller and Schurle later in the half but rolled away to Romero. Lahm and Muller were a big concern for Argentina as they asked questions on the left side.
Then came the moment. Mario Gotze received the ball that was won in midfield on the left and played along the line to Schurle. The Chelsea man played a perfect cross to Gotze. The German striker had space and time to take it on his chest, cushioning it on his first touch by slightly withdrawing the contact surface area thereby setting himself for a shot. A step later, he raised his head to time the run of the onrushing Romero. He planted his non-kicking foot slightly behind the dropping ball, which he volleyed with the shoe laces in a controlled manner. He angled the boot appropriately to keep the contact on the ball in the middle so as to limit the height of the resultant kick.
The ball whistled past the diving Argentina goalkeeper and nestled into the net. That goal stood and shall ever stand as the one that stood between Messi and eternal glory. Sentiment aside, Argentina did not hit top gear until the match today, but it was not enough on the day. Messi tried to act as a team player in moments when he should have been selfish and single-handedly weaved his way past the Germany defence.
Manuel Neuer won the Golden Glove while Messi’s consolation was the Golden Ball. James Rodriguez of Columbia was the Golden Boot winner with his six goals. Paul Pogba won the Young Player of the Tournament.