Germany 1-0 Argentina AET
13 July 2014
Estádio Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
World Cup Final
A wonderful goal by wunderkind Mario Goetze secured Germany their fourth World Cup title. In defeating Argentina, the Germans also took the UFWC title and became Unofficial Football World Champions. Having unified the FIFA and UFWC titles, Germany can claim to be the ‘undisputed’ champions. This was the fourth successive UFWC title match to go to extra time, but unlike the previous three it didn’t go to penalties. Substitute Goetze’s 113th minute strike was all that was required to win the game, as a fantastic World Cup came to an end.
Germany’s path to this final had seen them defeat Portugal and the USA and draw with Ghana during the group stage, then beat Algeria and France, before humiliating hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semi final. They suffered a blow before kick-off, losing Sami Khedira to injury during the warm-up. He was replaced by Christophe Kramer, but a nasty concussion meant Kramer also had to be replaced before half-time.
Germany started the match with a 4-5-1 formation, spearheaded by all-time record World Cup goalscorer Miroslav Klose, supported by Toni Kroos, Mesut Oezil and Thomas Mueller, with Kramer and Bastian Schweinsteiger in holding roles. Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng played in central defence, with Benedikt Hoewedes and captain Philipp Lahm as attacking full-backs. Manuel Neuer kept goal, and would subsequently be awarded the golden gloves trophy as the tournament’s outstanding goalkeeper.
Argentina had won all of their previous matches during the tournament, against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria, Switzerland, Belgium and then the Netherlands, from whom they took the UFWC title. They lined up with the same team that had beaten the Netherlands, in a familiar-looking 4-3-3. Sergio Romero kept goal in front of a back four of Ezequiel Garay, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis and Rojo. Mascherano, Enzo Perez and Lucas Biglia made up the three-man midfield, with Ezequiel Lavezzi and captain Lionel Messi supporting Higuain up front.
As expected, this was a tight game, with little to chose between the sides. It was Higuain who had the best chance of the match, presented with the ball at his feet and the keeper to beat following an errant back-header. Remarkably, though, the striker mis-hit his shot wide of Neuer’s goal. Higuain subsequently had the ball in the net, and wheeled away in celebration, only to be (correctly) flagged offside. Substitute Rodgrigo Palacio also had a decent chance, but his attempt to lift the ball over the advancing Neuer went wide.
Although all eyes were on Lionel Messi, the star was unable to exert much influence on the game. His one chance, when it came, was dragged wide of the post, as he was outshone by team-mate Mascherano and opponent Schweinsteiger, who were the pick of the players on view. Surprisingly, Messi was subsequently awarded the golden ball as player of the tournament, although it seemed that decision must have been made before this match had been played.
The winning goal was forged by two substitutes. First the energetic Andre Schuerrle barrelled down the left wing and cut in an excellent cross. But there was still plenty for Mario Goetze to do, as he controlled the ball on his chest, then stroked it across Romeros and into the far side of the goal. The celebrations were long and loud, and even Sepp Blatter’s botched trophy presentation couldn’t spoil the occasion.
It was Germany’s fourth World Cup win, and their 28th UFWC title match win, moving them up to 7th in the all-time rankings alongside Sweden. And it was the ninth time the official and unofficial titles have been unified at the World Cup Final:
1974 West Germany
Over the course of the last month in Brazil we’ve had seven UFWC title matches and five UFWC champions – Uruguay, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Argentina and Germany. All four knock-out phase UFWC games went to extra time, and three of them went to penalties. We’ll have more reflection on the tournament over the coming days, but here’s a full run-down of the World Cup 2014 UFWC title matches:
14/06/14 URUGUAY 1-3 COSTA RICA Fortaleza
20/06/14 ITALY 0-1 COSTA RICARecife
24/06/14 ENGLAND 0-0 COSTA RICA Belo Horizonte
29/06/14 GREECE 1-1 COSTA RICA*Recife
05/07/14 NETHERLANDS* 0-0 COSTA RICA Salvador
09/07/14 NETHERLANDS 0-0 ARGENTINA* Sao Paulo
13/07/14 GERMANY 1-0 ARGENTINA, Rio de Janeiro
[*won on penalties]
Their official title may be safe for another four years, but Germany will have to defend their unofficial title in less then eight weeks. And it will be a swift World Cup Final rematch. By coincidence, in a pre-arranged friendly, Germany’s next match is against Argentina in Düsseldorf on 3 September. The Germans will then embark on their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, with their first qualifier against Scotland on 7 September. We’ll continue to have full coverage of all things UFWC right here. You can also keep right up to date via Twitter or Facebook.
You can find out everything you need to know about the UFWC in our official handbook, Unofficial Football World Champions, which contains a complete history of the unofficial competition. The 2014 edition, updated for the World Cup, is out now.