It's been a few days now since Germany deservedly won their fourth World Cup title. The team is back in Germany, was celebrated live by over 500,000 fans in Berlin and is now off on vacation. So now that we've all calmed down a bit (it might take me a bit longer), it's time to reflect on this accomplishment, how the national team got to this point and what it all really means.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is over. A sad state of affairs for England, yes, but now that we're officially in post-tournament mode there is still loads to talk about. Most of it will center around how one country got things right while the other 31 still have much work to do, or how the competition is going to impact the sport in years to come.
In arguably the greatest World Cup ever, the five week adventure that is the grand global tournament in Brazil has now concluded.
Now in a fitting conclusion that saw a resilient and mentally strong German side win their fourth world championship (and first as a unified national side), we've put together a final team of the tournament that represents the best starting XI.
The 2014 World Cup final was not a classic but it would be hard to argue that the Germans were not deserving winners. They were the best collective unit, achieved the outstanding result in the World Cup demolishing the hosts, Brazil, 7-1 in the semifinals and were by far the most consistent team in the tournament.
Mesut Özil was heavily criticized during this World Cup from just about every corner of the soccer world. Arsenal's record signing endured a stop-start campaign at the Emirates and his indifferent form spilled over into the German side. In the buildup towards the World Cup speculation was rife that Özil would be dropped by Manager Jogi Löw.
When Italy won the World Cup in 2006, my father took me, then aged ten, to the Little Italy section of Manhattan to witness the celebrations. I thought it was the most electrifying experience, as I had never been to a celebratory parade before, but at the time I was too young to truly understand the significance of winning the World Cup.
André Schürrle proved to be the most critical player in this World Cup that virtually nobody is talking about. His pace and high-energy play helped change the trajectory of Germany's matches against Algeria and Argentina.
The Chelsea midfielder, who spent a season in and out of Jose Mourinho's doghouse, ended the Premier League campaign as a versatile and useful player in the Blues setup.
Jurgen Klinsmann is a legend of German football, as a player. As a coach, his reputation may be more notable for the 3rd place finish in Germany's own World Cup 8 years ago, and the spectacular flameout at Bayern Munich 3 years later. Now his reputation may have been rehabilitated by his former assistant Joachim Low, as the process Klinsmann largely started finally paid off with this World Cup win.
And so it finally happened! 120 minutes on the 13th of July 2014; 120 minutes in the famous Maracana Stadium; 120 minutes to determine the World Champions; 120 minutes to change soccer players into legends.
...and what a tense 120 minutes it turned out to be as a total of 36 fouls were made.
Congratulations to Germany on winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup after defeating Argentina 1-0 in extra time.
After the first 90 minutes ended 0-0, the match went to extra time. In the second half of extra time, Mario Götze's goal was the difference in the match after he chested the ball into his path and scored an unbelievable goal to win the game for Die Mannschaft.
World Cup finals are often cagey events, with teams too nervous to make mistakes in case it costs them the game. But in the first half between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana, this was a joy to watch with both Argentina and Germany to put their teams in the lead.
This is it. The game we wait every four years for, and it'll be over in 90 minutes or more. Savor every moment. And share your observations, rants and raves in the comments section below with fellow World Soccer Talk readers from around the world.
"We Are The Germans" has been my guilty pleasure this weekend. The hilarious music video features the unofficial World Cup song "We Are The Germans," which is the perfect rallying cry ahead of Germany's World Cup Final match against Argentina.
With obvious influences from Falco to Sacha Baron Cohen, the catchy song, funny facial expressions and cast of characters in the music video makes Ernst Hauser a rising star in my book.
The winners of the 20th FIFA World Cup will be decided in a mouth-watering clash between two giants of international football in the historic Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Between them, Argentina and Germany have won 5 World Cup tournaments and both teams make part of the relatively short list of 8 nations that have won football's greatest prize.
Never in recent history has a World Cup final been bigger for a head coach. Unlike most other managers that have taken their national teams to a final, Joachim Löw is a multiple major tournament leader implementing a long-term vision for his national team. Remaking the German style and blending in youth required continuing commitment from the DFL (the German football league).
I remember fondly a Bundesliga match between Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen during the 2012-13 season. Bayern Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer runs up towards the Leverkusen goal. He dribbles and sets up a cross that drifts into the area, and in the end the ball skips off the crossbar. Bayern loses the game.
It's obviously a coincidence that the two teams with the best looking shirts for the World Cup will meet in the World Cup Final on Sunday. Both Germany and Argentina's home and away shirts are splendid.
The shirts are available for you to order online so they can be delivered to your doorstep.
Great World Cup finals are surprisingly easy to come by when you look back through the tattered pages of the tournament's history. Given what's at stake, you would imagine that thesegames would bebeen tense, tight affairs — admittedly, the last few have been pretty abrasive contests—but overall, there have been some wonderfully gripping showpieces.
During the World Cup 2014 at Brazil, it has become more evident that Germany's new maestro is Toni Kroos. Bastian Schweinsteiger is still a vital component in the team's offensive configurations. Sami Khedira has proven that he is still Germany's best defensive anchor in midfield, while Mesut Özil – despite a disappointing World Cup campaign – still has Joachim Löw's confidence.
Arsenal and Germany international Mesut Özil has received plenty of criticism since his arrival to London from Madrid last September. Costing the Gunners around $66 million (absolutely demolishing the team's previous transfer record), Özil was seen as somewhat of a savior to Arsenal fans. In the previous weeks leading up to the Özil transfer, Arsenal lost their opening 2013-14 Premier League match at home to Aston Villa and their closest rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, were in the process of spending $170 million to upgrade their squad and were picked by many pundits to overtake the Gunners in the standings.
Germany's shock 7-1 victory over Brazil in the 2014 Workd Cup will be one of the everlasting memories of this summer. And now expert animator Richard Swarbrick has created another sensational animation, this time highlighting a few of the goals from the game.
With a video of only 30 seconds, it's impossible to cram all of the goals in, but the animation is still worth watching.
Just a week ago, Germany appeared to be struggling. The highly-touted side had struggled in a Round of 16 match against Algeria after having been exposed at various times during the Group stage. The problems for Germany earlier in the tournament included playing a high line, seeing its backline beaten for pace against Algeria and Ghana, and some breakdowns in communication in midfield against the United States.
Humiliated. There's no other word for it. Brazil were completely and utterly embarrassed by a ruthless German team in front of their own supporters in the World Cup semi-final.
For 64 years, the most devastating day in Brazilian football was the Maracanazo—the "Maracana Blow", where hosts Brazil unexpectedly fell to Uruguay in the final—but the "Humiliation of Belo Horizonte" has surely surpassed that, and is a game that will be etched in the annals of the sport for eternity.
Germany defenderPhilipp Lahm announced his retirement from international soccer today, ending his international career on a high note with a World Cup medal after defeating Argentina on Sunday in Brazil.
Lahm, who is versatile as a right back or defensive midfielder, will continue to play with his club Bayern Munich.