Germany win World Cup: Mario Gotze goal the perfect finale

 

Germany's players and supporters could barely tear themselves away from the Maracana as Brazil's World Cup got the winners it deserved and the winning goal it deserved.

The giant figures of Per Mertesacker and Benedikt Howedes were the unlikely leaders of the dance troupe that spread from the turf in Rio to the fans celebrating behind the goal to the strains of Daft Punk's disco anthem Get Lucky.

It was a joyous scene and one in which no luck was involved. This was a World Cup victory - their fourth - by German design and years in the making - the 1-0 final win over Argentina was merely confirmation of the success of a strategy forged on embarrassments at successive Euros in 2000 and 2004.

When Mario Gotze took Andre Schurrle's pass on his chest with only seven minutes of extra time left and volleyed his finish past Argentine keeper Sergio Romero, it was not simply a German win for now, it could be one that sets the platform for years of success.

And it was fitting that Joachim Low's side should lift the golden trophy as fireworks burst into the night sky over Rio at the end of a World Cup that can be rightly regarded as a triumph for Brazil.

World Cup final

Jeers filled the stadium when the faces of Fifa boss Sepp Blatter and Brazil president Dilma Rousseff appeared on the Maracana's big screens, but this World Cup has largely been a celebration on and off the field, with few of the mass protests that scarred last summer's Confederations Cup.

It was also right that at the end of a tournament marked out by capacity crowds and attacking football, for all the steel of Argentina, the best team were crowned as winners.

And, as the after-party snaked along the curve of Avenida Atlantica, the stretch of carriageway that accompanies Copacabana, Argentines were drowning sorrows while Germans were simply drenched in the success of their first World Cup triumph since 1990.

In particular, the sorrow of the Argentine fans surrounded their superstar Lionel Messi, who was unable to inspire his team to the heights of his predecessor Diego Maradona when they last won the World Cup, in Mexico in 1986.

There was almost a poignancy about the scene played out in the dying seconds as Barcelona's Messi prepared to take the free-kick that would either send Argentina into penalties or seal their fate. The little master's anguished face, dotted with beads of sweat, appeared on the giant screens as he made his preparations.

Germany lift the World Cup trophy

The result was a free-kick skied horribly over Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's goal. The cheers from Germans were of relief, while those of the many Brazil fans inside the Maracana - relieved that they would be spared the nightmare of an Argentina World Cup victory in their own sporting house - were of mockery.

It took a hard heart not to feel sympathy. It was Messi, whose fast feet troubled the mighty Mats Hummels on occasions, who symbolised this Argentina team along with the magnificently competitive Javier Mascherano.

Messi was nowhere near his stellar best and certainly did not deserve the Golden Ball as player of the tournament - but the 27-year-old is not the busted flush some would have you believe after losing this World Cup final.

Jaded yes, but still a player who was striving every sinew and someone who occasionally looked capable of making the game-changing contribution. It did not happen on this night but this is a fate that can befall the very best.

The honours, instead, went to Germany - and the buzz of celebration as supporters gathered around the beach bars and in the side roads off Copacabana late on Sunday was the sound of acclaim for a job well done.

Such was the vibrancy of this World Cup in Brazil, from the exotic Amazonian location of Manaus to its heartland in the Maracana, it was the perfect finale that the elation of Germany's players was so exuberant.

Coach Low received even bigger hugs from the wives and girlfriends than he did from the players themselves. He was kissing small children like a president on the campaign trail. Such will be his popularity in Germany now that he will overshadow watching Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck.

Germany win the World Cup

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski played huge roles in a consistent German team

For Germany, this was the end game of those plans that started to be laid back in 2000 - although they did reach the 2002 World Cup final - while the 2009 European Under-21 Championship in Sweden when they thrashed England 4-0 to lift the trophy was the significant signpost to this night.

In that side were Hummels, Howedes, Jerome Boateng, goalkeeper Neuer, Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira, who was cruelly robbed of his place in Germany's World Cup final with a calf injury sustained in the warm-up.

Germany's success was no accident. This was a plan coming together and when you add Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller to that group, along with Gotze, Ilkay Gundogan, Schurrle, Marco Reus and the twins Lars and Sven Bender, then this win can certainly be seen as the beginning of the era of domination Low believes is at hand.

It is certainly a lesson on how to foster home-grown talent for the long term and it is to be hoped that when the party is over and the heads are clearer, the Deutscher Fussbell-Bund (DFB) might be receiving a call from the Football Association seeking tips.

Germany fitting World Cup winners - Lineker

Low may have reached the pinnacle here in Rio, but he must be tempted to stay on because he will surely feel he has every chance of remaining there for years to come.

It was end of a World Cup that has contained the noise of Brazil's fans as they backed their team in searing atmospheres across the country, with the rendition of their national anthem remembered by anyone fortunate to hear it.

There has also been the controversy of Uruguay striker Luis Suarez's bite on Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini - but that never deserved to be the headline news from this World Cup.

The lingering memory of anyone in Belo Horizonte last Tuesday would be the spectacular demise of hosts Brazil, picked apart with such ruthlessness in their 7-1 defeat by Germany that it made both compelling and uncomfortable viewing at the same time. Many Brazil fans were in tears inside 30 minutes as Germany took a 5-0 lead. It was not meant to end like that.

Germany's fully merited win gives this World Cup the right final flourish. This vast country, with the Copacabana Fanfest a pulsating rhythm for the tournament throughout, will be an emptier place this week but Brazil has hosted arguably the finest World Cup of the modern era.

And the final piece of action played out at the Maracana saw Lukas Podolski's son taking penalties at his father - who was in no mood to let his little boy score.

German future planning in operation again? It worked well enough here and, as they prepare to fly out Brazil and celebrate in Berlin, they have once again proved the example to all.

Sergio Aguero

Despair was evident on the faces of the Argentina players, including Sergio Aguero