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B Baskar

And the winner is .... Germany

| Updated on July 16, 2014 Published on July 16, 2014

The Germans were the deserved winners despite their slightly underwhelming performance in the finals.

The World Cup in the home of football has ended and the best team won it. Though the finals did not live up to its billing, title deciders in football rarely do, it wasn’t the most boring match – that honour goes to the Holland-Argentina semi-final. The match was engrossing enough with Higuain getting the best chance in the first half and Messi fluffing another in the second. Germany had its fair share of chances but it took 113 minutes for the deadlock to be broken.

The talented Schuerrle ran down the left flank and with two Argentinian defenders chasing him still managed to send in a cross to Goezte who chested the ball and sent in a volley to the side netting, which the Argentinian goalkeeper had no chance of stopping. Sublime is a favourite word among sportswriters and in this context it would be entirely justified. Messi had one last chance at glory in the 123rd minute of the match but he sent his free kick into the stands.

The Germans were the deserved winners despite their slightly underwhelming performance in the finals. They have consistently played well throughout the tournament. Argentina had a fairly easy draw till the semi-finals where they had to meet Holland.

The average number of goals scored in this edition was 2.7 per match compared with 2.3 in 2010. Though the group stage matches were high-scoring when we came to the knock-out stage or the ‘business end’ of the tournament we started getting those low-scoring defensive games a few of which had to be settled by penalties.

The goalkeepers had their moment in the sun with Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa, Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas and the US’ Tim Howard standing out.

The big guns of Europe – Spain, Italy, England and Portugal – bit the dust. Teams such as Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile and Mexico played brilliantly and deserved to go further than they did.

Brazil’s pain

To say that this was a painful World Cup for Brazil would be an understatement. Brazil imploded in the most spectacular manner and even the shrewdest pundit wouldn’t have predicted their 7-1 whipping against Germany in the semis. But let’s be honest--this Brazil side never looked like world beaters. They were an average side riding on the shoulders of Neymar. As yesteryear great Tostao said in an interview to a Spanish paper, if the World Cup wasn’t being held in Brazil, they would have crashed out way before the semis.

It’s tiresome the way people who can barely recognise a football start supporting Brazil every four years and start talking about Jogo Bonito and Brazilian flair. Jogo Bonito is a clichéd concept and even Brazil stopped playing that in 1974 when they tried to kick Netherlands out of the World Cup. The 1970 World Cup winning team of Brazil was a once in a generation team much like the West Indies cricket team of the 1980s. Only the 1982 Brazil side came close to playing like the 1970 side, but a team consisting of Zico, Socrates and Falcao were shown up for their tactical ineptness by a shrewd Italian team which went on to win the Cup.

In fact, I’m surprised how little attention the 2002 Brazil team gets, both from Pundits and fans alike. To my mind that was the most complete football team. It had the brilliant Ronaldo as the centre forward but he was much more than that. Behind him were two creative midfielders Ronaldinho and Rivaldo, who remains one of the most underrated players of his era. Gilberto Silva and Kleberson were the defensive midfielders and you had wing backs of the class of Cafu and Roberto Carlos, and Cafu unlike Carlos could actually defend. Lucio was a solid central defender who played for Bayern Munich and Inter Milan and Nelson Dida was a terrific goalkeeper who played for AC Milan in the tactically demanding Serie A.

Maybe it’s time Brazil (and the world) stopped harking back at the 1970 team and start modeling their future teams on the 2002 team, the one that combined traditional Brazilian ‘flair’ with European ‘organisation’.

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Published on July 16, 2014
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