2014 World Cup Final: Five Thoughts

Matthias Hangst

Low scoring but far from dull, Germany the new Spain, Messi and legacy, City's trio and concussions

Low scoring but far from dull

Ahead of the final it was fear of many that we would get, as so many finals have been, a dour and cagey affair lacking in goals. Given the final was a reprise of the 1986 and 1990 finals the hope was that it would be more Mexico than Italy: goals and action against, well, not very much. We were only treated to the one goal (and some goal it was) and very little in the way of genuine scoring attempts but it was far from a dull game and it was one that felt on a knife edge throughout rather than an inevitable trawl towards a penalty shoot out. In terms of chances the better ones fell to Argentina - a snatched effort in particular from Gonzalo Higuain, but, when it mattered most, Germany had the bit of additional quality and composure to execute the one chance that was needed to win the World Cup.

Germany the new Spain

So long ago was Spain's exit in the tournament that their obituaries are almost gathering dust by now. Their imploding in Brazil should in no way diminish what this side has achieved in recent years in winning three consecutive tournaments (two Euros and a World Cup). The sense prior to their first was that their time had arrived and would be the precursor to a period of domination. Can the same be said for Germany? It is extraordinarily difficult to win a tournament of such magnitude but there are many in the German side on the wrong side of 30 and, much like the Spanish did, have plenty waiting in the wings to create their own history. Add to this a culture of winning and of expectation and they could well go on to emulate what Spain achieved in recent years.

Messi's legacy

It is a topic much written about in the wake of Argentina's defeat. Messi stood, poised and on the cusp of being able to cement his legacy with a win in the World Cup final, by guiding his country - as Maradona had done - to victory, and on the turf of their fiercest rivals. Messi though was barely a factor in the final. One or two forays aside little went through him or was created by him for the entire game. Pre-game Gary Lineker suggested that he was fatigued and he may have been speaking about him mentally as well as physically. Messi is undoubtedly the greatest talent since Maradona but, much like when discussing Hall of Fame calibre quarterbacks without a Super Bowl win, there remains a gap on Messi's many achievements.

City trio taste defeat

All of City's Argentinian contingent played a significant part last night. Pablo Zabaleta and Martin Demichelis for the entire game and Sergio Aguero from half time onwards when he replaced Ezequiel Lavezzi. Zabaleta was Zabaleta, Demichelis was solid, if slightly caught out on the goal - although it should be Andre Schurrle who is created for splitting the Argentinian central pair with an excellent ball through. It was surprising to see Aguero introduced so early in the game given his recent injury struggles and although brighter than in the semi-final he looked far from fit. It is now under four weeks when City kick off the season in the Community Shield against Arsenal and the management of the three players is something that City will have to look at closely in the early stages of the season as they look to recover from the past month or so.

Concussions

This is an issue that is definitely becoming more prevalent and we saw another example in the final when Germany's Christophe Kramer took a heavy blow to the head, before continuing in the game only to be subbed not long after suffering from what (to the admittedly untrained eye) appeared a concussion. We also saw later in the game Gonzalo Higuain take the knee of Manuel Neur to the head and the Kramer incident in particular saw FIFA draw plenty of criticism. As Bill Barnwell wrote in Grantland though it is difficult to establish what the protocol should be. Who decides whether a player is concussed? Does the game stop or can a temporary substitute be made? Could we have a concussion substitute rule? As Barnwell admits, there are no easy answers to readily implement but this is something that will only attract more coverage until something proactive is put forward.

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