RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – With two quick and sublimely deft touches, Mario Gotze ended Germany's 24-year wait for another World Cup title.
Gotze scored the winning goal in extra time to give Germany a 1-0 victory over Argentina on Sunday in a tight and tense World Cup final that came down to a few moments of individual skill.
Gotze, who wasn't born when West Germany beat Argentina in the 1990 final, controlled a cross with his chest in the 113th minute and in one fluid motion volleyed the ball past goalkeeper Sergio Romero and inside the far post from five yards out.
It was a goal that gave Germany its fourth World Cup title in its eighth final, and left Argentina star Lionel Messi still walking in the shadow of his compatriot Diego Maradona, who led his country to the 1986 title.
This is it: Argentina and Germany are the last two countries standing, and all that separates them from glory is 90 minutes. And each other. Germany has been an offensive powerhouse in this World Cup, while Argentina has been quietly, ruthlessly efficient thanks in large part to a huge tournament from Lionel Messi. This has all the makings of a classic, and regardless of the outcome it should be a lot of fun to watch. (Check out our primer on the five things to look out for during the match.)
But one team does have to win. And SI Kids' editors weigh in on what country they think will walk off the pitch with the gold trophy — and a place in their nation's history.
We’ve made it. Five weeks and 61 soccer matches later, it’s down to the final two: Argentina and Germany. The Germans have not lost on their path to the championship match, while Argentina has been tested throughout. This will be the third World Cup final matchup between the two teams. They each have one win. On Sunday, we’ll find out who is going to tip the scales and become the 2014 World Cup Champion.
Here are five things to look for in the final match:
Brazil was supposed to end the 2014 World Cup holding the championship trophy. Instead, in the semifinals yesterday, Germany decimated the home country, 7-1, in one of the most lopsided games in World Cup history.
"Had someone had said we’d have won 7-1 I wouldn’t have believed them," said Toni Kroos, German midfielder and Man of the Match. "It was an impressive performance. It’s the best team performance for Germany I’ve been involved in."
Germany's victory was also Brazil's first non-friendly loss at home since 1975. And it was Brazil's first World Cup loss since the 1950 final — a match that still lives in infamy in the country.
"It’s the worst moment of my football career and the worst day of my football life," Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. "Who is responsible for this result? I am, it’s me."
But the Germans did more than crush Brazil. They rewrote the World Cup record books.
Hats off to Brittney Griner and Tim Howard. Or perhaps I should say, hands up! The Phoenix Mercury center and Team USA goaltender both showcased incredible defensive performances this week. On Sunday, Griner recorded 11 blocked shots against the Tulsa Shock, the most ever in a WNBA game. On Tuesday, Howard made 16 saves during Team USA's game against Belgium, the most in a World Cup game since 1966.
While scoring gets a lot of praise and attention, Griner and Howard showed us why defense deserves more applause.
If you’re feeling blue because of that devastating US loss on Tuesday, you’re not alone. But don’t hang your head for too long, — it was a great game, and there’s a lot more World Cup soccer left.
Here’s the lowdown on the quarterfinals matchups, which begin on Friday.
The US lost a heart-stopper to Belgium yesterday, 2-1, in the World Cup Round of 16. Belgium moves on to play Argentina in the quarterfinals; the Americans head home.
But there's a lot of victory the Americans can pull from their defeat. Not only did they make it out of the Group of the Death, the US team defeated rival Ghana, came within two seconds of topping Portugal, and hung with the high-octane Belgians for most of the knockout round match.
And then there's goaltender Tim Howard. He had the tournament of a lifetime, and his best performance came in his team's final game. Howard made 16 saves against Belgium — the most since World Cup stats began being kept in 1966. The previous record holder was Ramon Quiroga from Peru, who saved 13 shots in 1978.