It might’ve taken 113 minutes, but, in the end, the German machine finally escaped from the confines of an Argentinian defense that had — for 113 minutes — swallowed up a German assault that had just torched the Brazilians to the tune of seven goals. For 113 minutes, Argentina handled Germany, even generating a couple of scoring chances that players will be reliving in their dreams and nightmares for years to come.
In the end though, the better team — the best team in the world — scored one of the best goals of the tournament to rob Argentina a chance at transforming Brazil into a wild, raging fire of outrage and discontent. In the end, the soccer gods decided to use logic, and awarded the trophy to the team that deserved it all along.
I knew all along that I’d be rooting for Argentina to pull off the upset, namely because I wanted Lionel Messi to deliver a World Cup trophy to his fellow Argentinians like Diego Maradona did in 1986, like Pele did for his fellow Brazilians in 1958, 1962, and 1970.
But it’s hard to be upset with the result. Because, for the past month, Germany did nothing but look like the best squad the world has to offer.
The German Machine
It was nearly a month ago, but Germany started the World Cup by demolishing Portugal, 4-0. The best part about that now? How about the fact that the Portugal game isn’t even Germany’s best game in terms of the final scoreline.
Not only did Germany emerge from the Group of Death with the most points in the group, not only did Germany knock off a resilient Algerian squad that seemed bent on shocking the world, not only did Germany beat a France team that breezed through the group stage, Germany also did something nearly unheard of: it beat Brazil on Brazil’s home turf and it did so by cutting off the head of the monster after just 30 minutes of playing time.
Germany and Brazil’s clash in the semifinals won’t be remembered for being a game that could’ve gone either way; instead it’ll be remembered for the seven German goals, for the four goals in six minutes. I’m only 21 years old and have many more soccer games to watch as a spectator, but I highly doubt there will ever be a six-minute stretch of soccer that comes close to matching the exhilarating feeling of shock and disbelief that shook through my body during those six minutes. Those six minutes were the six greatest minutes ever.
In the end, I can’t be upset with the final result of the final match because Germany deserved to win it all. I can’t be upset because the goal that brought glory to this German team was a goal worthy of a World Cup winner. I can’t be upset because, now, that Germany/Brazil beat down will remain the defining game of this World Cup.
But, for me, soccer is the beautiful game because, unlike American football, there are no stoppages in play. Coaches can’t call timeout to organize their team. Players can’t huddle up to call a play, execute that play, then reconvene to discuss their next move.
With the exception of a 15-minute halftime, everything is done on the fly. Soccer is the beautiful game because in order for a team to succeed, all 11 players have to be working together, in sync, without so much as a few words spoken between them. The ball has to be moving and the players with it, even though 10 players have no assurances that they have any idea where the ball is going next. It’s difficult, which is why you see a lot of 1-0, 2-1, and 0-0 scorelines.
But, when it all comes together, it looks something like this:
The German performance at this World Cup proved that in soccer you can be a beauty and a fucking terror. I’m not sure another sport can claim that.