The Four Moments Which Decided World Cup 2014

So the ruthless Germans have won the Cup after all? It wasn’t the outcome Wired868 expert Lasana Liburd foresaw. But he has now decreed that tiki-kaiser shall henceforth succeed tiki-taka as football’s dominant style.

Liburd’s opinion dovetails with the post-final view expressed by TV6’s Sweet Samba guru Keith Look Loy. According to the former TTFF technical director, it is not just top-class automobiles like Mercedes Benzes, BMWs and high-end Volkswagens that have been rolling off the German production line but top-class footballers as well.

Photo: Germay defender and captain Philipp Lahm (second from right) lifts the World Cup trophy with his teammates. (Copyright AFP 2014/Fabrice Coffrini)
Photo: Germay defender and captain Philipp Lahm (second from right) lifts the World Cup trophy with his teammates.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Fabrice Coffrini)

And they will continue to do so, he predicts, into the foreseeable future.

It’s hard to disagree with Look Loy; I think, however, that Liburd’s is a questionable conclusion. True, the Mannschaft won on Sunday. But it was neither German football nor German strategy that triumphed at the Maracanã; it was sheer German technical efficiency.

And if there is one constant in German football, it is technical efficiency. Think Gerd Muller, 10 goals in the 1970 Finals. Think new record-holder Miroslav Klose, 16 goals in four Finals.

In his post-match analysis, Liburd himself takes issue with LookLoy’s conclusion on strategy. The ex-TD contended that, at a crucial stage of the proceedings, the South Americans opted for safety first. Cockroach eh have no right before fowl, I was taught, so I am staying far away from the experts’ argument.

What I will, however, venture to say is that Liburd’s “Tiki-Kaiser” piece misses the obvious conclusion to which the following three paragraphs adduce:

It was Germany who made the defensive change and not Argentina. But history would not remember it that way, particular (sic) after the 22-year-old (Mario) Götze’s superb winner.

Earlier, (Gonzalo) Higuain scoffed (sic) the best chance of the match in the 20th minute and ended up with the foolish look of a guy who suddenly forgot his girlfriend’s name while trying to introduce her to an ex. And (Rodrigo) Palacio’s scooped miss in extra time was even worse.

Photo: Argentina's rat-tailed forward Rodrigo Palacio (centre) shoots past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer but wide of the goal in the 2014 World Cup final. (Copyright AFP 2014/Fabrizio Bensch)
Photo: Argentina’s rat-tailed forward Rodrigo Palacio (centre) shoots past Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer but wide of the goal in the 2014 World Cup final.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Fabrizio Bensch)

(…) Germany, unsurprisingly, was not as wasteful; and that was the difference between dancing along to “Happy” after the final whistle or praying for the Maracanã Stadium to swallow you up.

If Liburd misses the mark, Kern Spencer, the first reader to leave a comment, is right on the ball, pointing out that goals, not reputations, win matches. Here, in part, is what Spencer says:

Argentina had good chances, and the front line just lacked that finishing touch. If Higuain scored that gift early in the game, who knows how the game may have evolved.

That, for me, is where the cookie crumbles. Had Higuain scored that opening goal in the 20th minute, who knows indeed how the game would have turned out? But the striker’s technique failed him, one of three such instances of South American failings in the match, which altered its course – and, arguably, the outcome.

And in my view, the heart of the matter resides in a combination of Spencer’s comment that “Argentina had good chances” and Liburd’s observation that “Argentina did not force a single save from Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.”

Minute 20: Toni Kroos, doing his best Brazilian impersonation, heads the ball back onto the feet of Higuain, well behind the high German defence. In an offside position but not, of course, off-side.

Gleefully accepting the gilt-edged gift, Higuain turns, gets into the German 18-yard box; the goalkeeper advances. With space ahead of him and on either side of Neuer, the forward unforgivably screws his shot left of the custodian’s right upright.

Who knew then that that was the first nail in the Argentine coffin?

Minute 47: Nail number two comes from an unexpected source. Lionel Messi wriggles free on the left, leaving behind a clutch of German defenders. Neuer, the only one to beat, is planted on the first post. But the man some say is the world’s best player and whom a star-studded panel would inexplicably later adjudge the Player of the Tournament sends his left-footer spinning wide to the German’s left.

Photo: Argentina captain Lionel Messi (second from right) looks for a way past Germany players Andre Schuerrle (far right). Benedikt Hoewedes (centre), Mesut Özil (second from left) and Toni Kroos. He couldn't beat four Germans?! Clearly, the boy is overrated! (Copyright AFP 2014/Gabriel Bouys)
Photo: Argentina captain Lionel Messi (second from right) looks for a way past Germany players Andre Schuerrle (far right). Benedikt Hoewedes (centre), Mesut Özil (second from left) and Toni Kroos.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Gabriel Bouys)

Nil-nil. Argentina die a second time before their eventual death and Loew’s Germans live to fight another day.

Minute 97: Day Three comes in extra-time. Substitute Palacio benefits from a German defensive misjudgement on a high ball and finds himself confronted by a German custodian advancing late into no man’s land. Missing is more difficult than scoring, you feel; one proper touch is all it takes. Palacio contrives to get the inside of his instep on the ball, taking it over the custodian’s head… and, like Higuain’s before him, left of Neuer’s right upright.

Before we look at the final critical moment of Sunday’s final, let us briefly look back at one moment of the July 7 Brazil vs Germany semi-final. It is a situation we have encountered a dozen times before in the course of the last month; the result has always been the same. Either the attacker misses the mark (Brazil’s Hulk) or the keeper lifts his arms in time to make an impossible stop (Nigeria’s Enyeama).

Today, the score is already 6-0 and the result has long been settled. André Schürrle gets free on the left side of Julio Cesar’s goal. The angle is acute. Cesar advances to make it more so. Schürrle pulls the trigger. Jepnest. Julio Cesar fetches. 7-0.

German technical efficiency with a vengeance.

Minute 113: In yesterday’s final, it was replicated with seven minutes of extra-time left on the clock. This time, however, the Germans are assisted by an Argentine misjudgement. Seeing Schürrle racing down the left flank, DeMichelis opts to go towards the ball instead of dropping deeper to give cover and get Götze, angling right on his run-in from midfield, in his sights. He is banking, it seems, on a low cross which he can cut out.

Photo: Germany attacker Mario Götze.
Photo: Germany attacker Mario Götze.

Schürrle delivers high, on point; the defender looks back to see Götze take the ball on his chest just wide of the first post, swivel and crash his volley ever so sweetly with the middle of his left boot.

The advancing Romero is helpless against German technical efficiency.

Match done.

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About Earl Best

Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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  1. Riquelme was thought to be a defensive liability but he had a skeleton key for any defence. He used to take a lot of hits. Cambiasso would be more likely to give rather than take hits. Game changers like Quaresma, Ginola, Romagnoli were slighted by coaches because they played their brand of football no matter what and were hard to contain in or conform to a system. One name in particular comes to mind- George Best. If the Cambiasso change worked out, then the coach would have shown that he didn’t need Riquelme to win the match. Riquelme was just too big for that system.

  2. I don’t think it could have been said any better. Good job Earl.

  3. He was not struggling (that is justification)…. reality was he try to manage a 1/0 and didnt trust Riquelme to close out the game…. If memory serves me correctly wern’t he (coach) and Riquelme having some problems during that WC? Nobody understood why he took him off… and lasana, making a right decision for a wrong reason is a WRONG decision…lol… he knew he f**ked up…..

  4. I agree with everything but Riquelme’s legs were full of running. I just am in no position to judge that. I’m fine with everything else. And the decision definitely backfired.

  5. Sana, de man make a bad mistake….not say he is a bad coach… but that sub at that time was ill advised if your intention was not a like for like sub… had too much time left in the game and Riquelme’s legs were still full of running… that sub it unbalance the team and they lost the TRUSTED on field leader for that game… Germany did what Germany always does… once you keep them in the game they will find a way as they never stop believing until that final whistle was blown… Argentina had no right to lose that game but found a way to do so….. so be it….

  6. By the way, Aimar was on the bench and there was a continuing debate in the Argentine press as to whether he should start. Some Argentine writers were openly mocking Riquelme even.
    The point is Pekerman could have brought him on rather than a holding midfielder. I won’t argue if he said Riquelme was tired. I would quicker ask why Aimar didn’t come on.

  7. It was a wrong decision. But it might have been for the wrong reason. I wasn’t on the bench. And I actually watched that match from the fan zone.
    I don’t know if Pekerman was right or not. But I sure don’t trust an outside to make a decision about Riquelme’s physical state.

  8. Kendall, why would I take the word of a blogger over a coach on the condition of Riquelme?
    The debate isn’t whether Riquelme was vital to his team and not having his skill cost Argentina. It is whether he was tired enough to be a liability.
    A blogger on his couch cannot answer that question for me.
    Pekerman nurtured Riquelme from a holding midfielder with number five on his back straight up to be the national team playmaker. He is well aware of his talent.
    That blog in no way invalidates what I said.
    I think on the whole people should also understand that watching sport live is a million miles different to seeing it on television.
    You can’t properly assess movement, shape and so many other things on television.

  9. Riquelme was my favorite argentine player!

  10. Riquelme wasn’t struggling at all.

  11. As was I. And then he said why he did it. And I decided that, although it didn’t work, I could see the logic in his changes.
    One can make the right decision for the wrong reason and vice versa.

  12. Every Argie fan I know were at a loss to understand why that change was made.

  13. Okay. I checked back and it was 18 minutes left. Also our goalkeeper was replaced in the 71st minute for what must have been an injury. Then Cruz for Crespo in 79th minute and all subs used up…
    Then flipping Klose scored in the 80th minute and we had to play extra time with no changes and use our second keeper for the shootout. Sigh.
    I not disagreeing with allyuh. I just saying why he said he did it and it made sense if he really felt that Riquelme was struggling.

  14. nah Lasana have to agree with Kendall on this one… Riquelme was looking strong in that game and Germany had no answer to controlling him… it was actually one of the best games I had seen Riquelme play for club and country for a LONG LONG Time…. It was a bad bad change… because as soon as he went off the germans were able to push forward and the Argentine side had no one to stem the tide or control the pace of the game…. it was definitely one of the WTF are you doing coach?…. it was the only change that could have changed the game in Germany’s favour and he made it…..

  15. It was more than 20 minutes remaining Lasana.

    Scolari pick a side to please the sports editors and critics in Brazil. if he had put Robinho, Ronaldinho or Kaka in that squad he would have get crucified.
    Brazil lost 7-1 because they sell out. Marcelo was either high on Cachaça or rich off Russian goonta millions. he played the match at snail pace. the whole back line did. the rest of the team was looking up to Cristo Redemptor to see if He would send Neymar to rescue them.
    Argentina lost a tight match by a brilliant, technically perfect goal. ball was delivered ON A DIME at the corner of the 6 yard box. but the way the ball was taken down with that chest—THAT was brilliant. the volley on the twist was ALSO brilliant. but look at the keeper’s hand position. if he was advancing with his hands UP instead of down, he would have touched that ball—TOUCHED, maybe not scored, but its like Papa Best says: TECHNICALLY CORRECT versus vaps.
    the 3x ARG misses are all going to be dissected by the pundits. none of them were proper technique.
    Messi is a genius footballer. Better than Maradona. Plain talk. People remember his wins for Napoli, but that team was not a one-man machine. Careca and Alemao were also on that roster. de Napoli will not ring anybody’s bell as a “GREAT” player, but anybody remembering them years will recall always hearing his name calling. Napoli in the mid-80s was like Liverpool today: struggling to regain past glory and Maradona was the piece of the puzzle that took them to the top.
    For ARG in ’86, Maradona wasn’t alone either: that was a BIG squad! and as good as that 90 squad was they LOST.

  17. Argentina was leading 1-0 and he subbed him with ten minutes to go or something. It is one of those things that makes perfect sense if it works.
    Of course I was far from happy at the time. But I have way too much respect for Pekerman and the job he did with the youth teams to be too harsh.
    I think Pekerman and Basile played the most attractive football I ever saw with Argentina. I’m envious of Colombia for getting him.

  18. With all due respect, 2006 was built around Riquelme so to expect to replace him with 20+minutes to go in Germany against Germany who are renowned for never letting up is lunacy. I do not recall Riquelme looking bad or wanting to come off either but I could be wrong.

    He took out the heart of the midfield. That was madness to me.

  19. Nah. Bielsa never plays defensive. He played the same system he used with Chile and everyone else. A 3-4-3 with an extremely high defensive line.
    Pekerman said he had Riquelme from U-16 and knows him better than anyone. Whenever Riquelme makes three bad passes, he is either exhausted or injured. And he felt Cambiasso had the technique to maintain their play.
    He said Crespo had hit a wall too and he thought the only way Germany could score was through a set piece. So he brought on Julio Cruz to defend against those.
    I can see the logic in both although they didn’t work.

  20. Lol. Can’t recall if I did Lasana. Probably did and thought it was nonsense.

    Bielsa played with one striker in a defensive setup as I recall but will defer to your view if you think otherwise as I can only say how it looked to me. I was preoccupied watching my team march to victory. 😉

  21. I agree with the first part Prince. Lol.

  22. Time to start analyzing the premiership fellas! Man City too the world! Lol

  23. Oh ok thanks Lasana Liburd. I was mistaken.

  24. It was not Khedira’s replacement that gifted Higuain his chance. It was Toni Kroos who was Germany’s indispensable midfielder. All their other midfielders were rested at various stages.
    You never read Pekerman’s explanation or his Riquelme change Kendall Tull? I thought it was reasonable.
    Bielsa tried to play a high energy pressing game with tired players.

  25. Hahaha we took 7. Ah sit down and watch every goal. Argentina never defended like that. Scolari choose to leave Lucas Mora home! A useful replacement. So we had an idiot coach too I guess. I am still baffled how the two articles ah read so far it sounds like Argentina was the completely better team and should have won. Argentina played well but they never had the ball. I understand that Messi disappears then shows up when needed. I felt like he was needed for that whole second half. Yes if higuain scored different game. World class player should have done better. But in big games pressure sometimes prove to be too much. Whose to say if it was in target it wouldn’t have been saved. Nauar is an exceptional keeper. Maybe his positioning forced some doubt in their heads. I want to see an article that completely praises Germany. They were by far the best team in this World Cup. Let’s not forget Sami Khadira didn’t play either and his replacement that was in Mickey Mouse land gifted that chance to Higuain if I am not mistaken. Honestly I would have like to see Argentina at full strength. But then they would have had less men behind the ball if a healthy Di Maria and Aguero was available. In the end they had good spirit and maybe another day they would have been champs. They lost to the better team. That totally deserve the match and Tournament.

  26. Colin – the tactical errors were very basic in both cases so the the coach was an idiot at the time to make them. I would agree that they are not idiot coaches generally.

  27. If they did, all this talk wouldn’t be happening because that would have been a definitive cut ass enough to silence any fan. I would know because it happened to me and my team. 🙁

  28. A bit harsh to call Bielsa & Peckerman idiot coaches although they did make mistakes in 02 & 06. Maradona 2010 was wildness though ha

  29. Let me sum it up for you guys. Key players to watch were Khedira and Rojo. Rojo was carrying an injury and could not go as far forward. Because Khedira was out, Germany played 1/2 to 1 yard slower than the Brazil Game. Because Di Maria was out and Rojo injured, Argentina played 5-10 yards deeper into their own half. The game was fairly contested without major weapons but with the same number of blunders. Argentina missed their chances and did not have a hold up man. Germany was 1 to 2 yards short of final passes on goal and hardly attacked the wings.

  30. This is a very comprehensive review from Senor Best. From what my rabbit ear antenna allowed me to see in HD (Hoping for Definition), my moments were Khedira withdraws from starting line up, Kramer (born on the 19th) replaces him, Kramer gets a concussion in the first half (gets up close to the 19th minute), Schurlle shortly replaces him, Schurlle assists with a goal! Goetze ironically wears the no.19 which Messi used to wear.
    There were 19 world cups before this one.

  31. I thought that was the point I made though. That Germany had a deeper bench than everyone else and the disruptions due to injury cost us.

  32. I will agree with the last part of your comment Sana (hard luck dey on the 1st part…lol)……the biggest thing for me in this WC was the team that won had a REAL bench…. the drop off between starter and sub for ALL the major teams was so glaring that virtually EVERY Major team was literally 1 or 2 injuries away from getting 4+ (and some did)….. Germany was just best equipped to handle injuries and poor performances…. 1 man band teams just couldnt get it done the WC…

  33. There are a handful of teams that can win a World Cup and then the details matter. Argentina’s entire attacking cast outside Angel Di Maria went into the World Cup after injury hit seasons.
    That is Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero. And, just for bad luck, Di Maria broke down.
    Messi being Messi was still effective. Like Lara, he is better than most at just 70 percent. But the others were not good enough and, in the end, our attackers didn’t do their defence justice.
    Germany had a deep enough squad to shrug off the problems that did for teams like Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and even Netherlands.
    I will have nightmares remembering Palacio coming on in a World Cup final.

  34. we know… but one could argue that he got a team with 11 players in club form in form for Confederations so he felt it didnt warrant much changes…Problem is that team never showed up this WC… His one man band team, if everybody was on form, would have given anyone trouble. And I would argue that that team that won Confederations could easily have won the cup… but a side where virtually EVERYONE but Neymar and Thigo were off form, there was no way that team, as composed, would scare anyone if those 2 didnt play… even with a Ronnie or Kaka or Robinho.

  35. Scolari picked a squad based on his loyalties for the old guard and paid the ultimate price.

  36. would definitely agree with 2006… that was a bad change…. but 2002 they were not beating Brazil (too many game changers) and 2010 Maradona selected no defenders so they had no choice but to attack… everybody knew if you got them in an open game is was lights out…. but do agree the coaches have really done more harm than good for the senior teams…. But the same can be said for Brazil…. Only difference is we have actually won something in the 21st century… 🙂 …..

  37. I have said to Lasana that Argentina have had a squad good enough to win the last three World Cups but were let down by poor coaches.

    2002 – blessed with an abundance of attacking talent with Crespo, Batistuta, Kili Gonzalez, Claudio Lopez et al, idiot coach plays a defensive line up and goes out in the group stage.

    2006 – Bossing Germany and leading comfortably, idiot coach takes off Riquelme with 20+minutes to go in Germany. Germany comes back to win.

    2010 – coming up against the Germans who just destroyed England with pace and precision, idiot coach says tactically we not making any plans to counter their strengths. Play open game and collect 4.

    See the recurring theme?

  38. Nah, not with Lasana on board…. lol…. Like you I take meh 7 like a big man and still engage in shit talk with some serious Argentinian supporters (even though it was 2 days AFTER the …. these fellahs different… ah mean they WILLINGLY support Argentina… 🙂

  39. good ting they din’t get 7 eh Kendall!!!! lawd have mercy…..

  40. So an entire article on the final and zero discussion of the German chances including hitting the post in the first half. If I didn’t watch the game, it would be hard to conclude anything other than Argentina having all the chances and spurning them until Germany score in extra time based on the article. I recognise it’s an opinion piece but surely some balance should be on display.

    Both sides had chances. Higuain should have scored his first chance but then again, if Howades had scored his header, what would have happened then?

    Enough of the what ifs, the maybes and what might have been. Argentina played a good game. Germany played a better one overall. All the nonsense about the better team lost is just that – nonsense. The team that was the best on the night won and that was Germany.

    Messi is a great player who was frustrated by the inability of his teammates to take their chances and he badly missed Di Maria to shoulder some of the attacking responsibilities.

    We can argue forever as to whether he was the best player of the tournament. I don’t think he was and many people agree with me. Lasana thinks he was and many people agree with him. He was voted the best – Punto final.

    Can we all just agree to disagree and move on? Jeez.

  41. Awesome article. This made it sound like Argentina had the only 3 chances. Yes clear cut but let’s not for get the Germans broke down the argentines a couple times and had chances that they blasted in the back of the net against the Brazilians in the semis. It wasn’t one vs ones but it was chances they put away in the previous match

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