The end of footie

Well, it’s all over, and the golden World Cup trophy (worth several million dollars, I’m told) is in the hands of Germany.  One can’t argue that they don’t deserve it, for they’ve played well the whole time. And yesterday’s game against Argentina was very good, with the winning goal scored in the second 15-minute extension period by Mario Götze. I’m just glad it didn’t go to penalty kicks.

Still, my heart was with the scrappy Argentinians, as I was hoping that Messi would attain the stature of Maradona in his own country—a status he deserves—which he would have done had Argentina won. He’s like Mardona in that he’s small and fast, but unlike Maradona in that Messi is a Good Boy. Argentina was also playing without star di Maria.

Messi missed several shots that, I think, he normally would have made. Perhaps the team was simply tired. But congratulations, Germany, even though your victory cost me a book that I bet against a German.

Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 6.31.41 AM

Here are the highlights (click on screenshot of Götze’s goal to go to the video):

Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 7.45.05 AM

As for our winner, here again is the spreadsheet showing the readers who guessed, before the tournament began, that the final match would involve Germany and Argentina. And, thank Ceiling Cat, there was only one winner and no ties. That winner, as you can see, is reader Aaron H. So Aaron, email me with your snailmail address and I’ll send the autographed book out soon. Let me know if you want the soccer-playing team to be wearing Germany’s colors!

Screen shot 2014-07-10 at 6.32.46 AM

My hearty thanks not only to the entrants, but to the anonymous person who kindly kept a spreadsheet of the entries, and narrowed it down as the tournament progressed.

We’ll take this up again in 2018.

 

29 Comments

  1. Dominic
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Most of the players were clearly knackered, & Messi was never fully fit. Imagine, van Gaal is straight of to Man Utd for their pre-season tour of the USA! In England the Premier League starts again on Saturday 16th August!

    Too much footie means they can end up jaded.

  2. Ian Hewitson
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    From a British perspective the most incredible thing about yesterday’s game was just how many Brits wanted the Germans to win.

    As for the end of footie? The English Premier League returns in just 33 days. Yay!

    • Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      I’m glad to hear that. I was watching the BBC and as usual the commentators were falling over themselves trying to talk Germany down, and saying things like “thank goodness” when an Argentinian cleared. (In 2010 before the game the game against England they were saying that no German player would even get into the English squad, before it wound up 4-1 for Germany.)

    • TJR
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      In my experience Europeans are vastly more anti-German than Brits are. In fact we’re remarkably pro-German, relative to everyone else in the neighbourhood.

    • Pete Taylor
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Well, many Brits remember the Falklands War (more recent than World War 2 !), and many English (being more specific) dislike Argentina because of Maradonna’s cheating ‘hand of God’ goal in 1986.

      The Scots, Welsh & Irish probably have no problem with the latter :)

  3. Daoud
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    I am very sad for Argentina, why oh why did Higuain flub that gift shot? That shot will haunt him for a long time. And so many other extremely close shots, Messi’s that went a few inches wide of the post, eh, it’s a game of inches. I am also glad it didn’t go to penalties, it’s such a crummy way to decide the WC.

    I think the result should also be a boost for Ghana who tied Germany and Algeria who came very close to penalties and played their best game ever against Germany.

    Full disclosure: against all odds, I always start the WC cheering for the African teams until they’re all gone. :)

    • michaelfugate
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Men in Blazers labeled Higuain’s miss as “wondolowskiesque.”

  4. Thomas
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Of course, footie hasn’t really ended. Major League Soccer is in the middle of one of its most competitive and popular seasons ever, and the various European leagues will start up again over the next couple of months. You don’t have to wait four years, or even until the next round of qualifiers begins.

    • Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:01 am | Permalink

      Yes, yes, I know: my title involved hyperbole. But remember, we Americans see precious little high-quality football on television. We never, for example, see the European leagues like La Liga or the Premier League unless (I suppose) we subscribe to expensive sports channels. I doubt I’ll see another classy televised match live in a long time.

      • Duncan
        Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:46 am | Permalink

        This foray into soccer has, for me, made your site even more of an essential part of my day. I wouldn’t want to break da roolz by demanding you post on a particular subject but might there room for the occaisional glance towards the ‘Chicago Fire’? I’m a Leeds United fan and haven’t seen any MLS but the USA team’s great showing in Brazil has got me a little curious.

        If not, fair enough but thanks for Ceiling Cat perspective on the beautiful game.

        • Paul S.
          Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:26 am | Permalink

          I haven’t see a Fire game or know how good they are, but they are televised. Whenever soccer is brought up I relive the heyday of the Chicago Sting championship seasons in 81 & 84 with Karl-Heinz Granitza. I’m too old and stubborn to latch onto a new team.

  5. drew
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    Why 2018?

    The Woman’s cup is next year in Canada.

    Then there’s the Olympics in 2016.

    Otherwise,

    I wanted Germany to win so I’m happy there.

    I was surprised that Messi missed so many of the shots he missed. Additionally, there were a few shots that he took where I thought he should have tried for the assist rather than shooting directly. I worry that he was focused too strongly on trying to get the goal for himself.

    • gravityfly
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      Yes, women’s soccer is really good these days. The top national teams are a delight to watch!

  6. Paul Lurquin
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Messi or no Messi, football is a team sport. Germany was simply a better team.

    • wildkennett
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      And in this age of individualism its no bad thing to see a team win at a team game by being a good team.

    • Luis
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      I saw a wonderful meme yesterday that read:

      Portugal have Ronaldo
      Brazil have Neymar
      Argentina have Messi
      Germany has a team!!

  7. Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Some things that really impressed me about the German team (apart from roundly beating Portugal & Brazil before the final):

    * That they formed a guard of honor for the Arg players at the end — never seen that before in a World Cup, and Germany it’s unbelievably important for that they’re setting an example of how to be gracious victors.

    * That the pig climber and Podolsky were fooling around after the game pretending to kiss each other on the lips (and thereby freaking out the BBC commentators — “Thank heavens there was no contact!”) — With homophobia so prevalent in sport, that was the perfect chance to break down some barriers in the public perceptions. (As far as I know neither is gay, and that’s rather the point, I think!)

    * Anyone who says they didn’t deserve it, should just look at Götze’s goal again. (And at least the BCC comentators have stopped calling him “Goats”!)

    • drew
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      At least they didn’t call him Goatse :D

  8. TJR
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    In their book “Soccernomics”, Kuper and Szymanski refer to the playing style of the top european club sides as “EU football”, by which they mean a game based on pressing and short passing, very much inspired by the Ajax and Holland sides of the early 70s.

    Germany’s win was a clear win for “EU football” in this sense, albeit they play with a much higher line than almost any top club side does nowadays.

    The contrast with Brazil’s very retro style of hoping to score through individual brilliance was especially clear.

    Anyway, a cracking tournament and thanks to Jerry for providing a rare interweb forum for saying vaguely sensible things about football.

  9. gravityfly
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Congratulations, Aaron H! I would bet again on Germany in 2018…they’re such an amazing team!

    • Aaron H.
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Thanks!

  10. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Congrats Aaron H!

    • Aaron H.
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Thanks! I’ve already contacted Jerry about getting my new, upgraded version of WEIT. I shall have to find someone to give my old copy to. Perhaps a religious friend…

  11. Nick260682
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    2018!!??

    What about the 2016 European championships? Granted they won’t have your beloved (below par this tournament) Messi, but the general quality of play is thought by many to be marginally higher than the World Cup, due to the lack of teams from Asia, Australasia etc, where the standard of football is not so good.

    Also, not sure about the roolz on putting website names, but on firstrow dot org you can stream pretty much any club game you want.

  12. Shwell Thanksh
    Posted July 14, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    “the golden World Cup trophy (worth several million dollars, I’m told)”

    Does the winning team get to keep a newly minted cup each year, or do they pass it on to next year’s winner (like the Stanley Cup)?

    • Daoud
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

      It persists, there have been 2 trophies in use, the original one was permanently given to Brazil in 1970 because it had been stipulated that the first nation to win 3x would keep it forever. The 2nd trophy has been in use since.

  13. Posted July 14, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    The game was a thriller. Argentine played very well. Especially their defence proved to be well-embattled. I am of course very biased towards Germany, but I do think the Argentine team were splendid. But I have to say that I detest this “Italian” style of play. The Guardian comment section calls it “parking the bus” – with yet another metaphor: walling up the goal with 9 players and with 2 lurking for a counter. It makes for ugly games and I am very pleased that this wasn’t successful in the end. If Germany played the same way (like the Netherlands did in the previous game against Argentine), it would have been the most boring final ever.

    Like in previous games, the referees made a few big mistakes. I think Höwedes, which I didn’t like during the entire tournament for entirely subjective reasons could have seen a red. He saw a lucky yellow instead. Schweinsteiger got a yellow for almost nothing and the Argentine shirt pullers and straddlers got away for most of the time. Germany’s replacement who had to go in instead of Khedira (who injured in the warm-up, also bitter) Kramer also saw an Argentinian Bus, but to his face. This position had to be filled up with a third man as Kramer had to leave due to a concussion.

    I found refereeing somewhat unfair, but acceptable. Some people complained about Neuer’s scene. He is a tower and his leap forward looked brutal, but he played the ball and got there first – completely fair (and having a knee up instead of presenting the crotch isn’t unfair, either, just healthy self- and future family protection).

    Thanks to the Argentine “parking the bus”, the ball possession was easily 60%, if not more, for Germany and the game was objectively dull at times, but of course not when you are invested in the outcome. Both teams not always played their best, missed passed and some very good opportunities to score.

    The best moment for Argentine was Higuain’s when a German mistake allowed him to snatch the ball near the German goal. For a brief moment he was alone before Manuel Neuer, but stumbled this pristine opportunity. Messi was, to my perception, mostly invisible. To me, who doesn’t watch league soccer (so yes, I don’t count as a soccer fan), he is overrated, but I’ve seen the statistics and compilations and well, that was someone else! (he probably is the most talented player ever, but not in this tournament).

    As the match went on towards the end of the regular time, it looked more like hard labour. The Argentinian bus blocked the entire goal, but the German pressing was good enough to prevent the Argentine team to play up their offensive side. Call it lack of creativity of the German team, or a very tough defence of the Argentine team — it was tense but often not very pretty. But as it went on, the German team seemed to be in better shape. It could be the late revenge that Argentine play so boringly already against the Netherlands (they also had to play through overtime there and that could exhausted them some more, plus a day less recovery time).

    And this game went into overtime as well and continued as it ended in regular time: more hard labour. But Germany kept attacking and trying to find a way to the goal, while Argentine seemed determined to make it to penalty shooting. Now many unfair fouls happened, in particular against Schweinsteiger. This gave the game almost a kind of hero story.

    The first foul against him should have resulted in a yellow-red for Macherano. Soon afterwards, there was another one, even more brutal than the previous, with a fist to his face, which alone could have been red. Since Agüero already saw yellow before, this was at the very least a yellow-red.

    Schweinsteiger was kicked down, got up again, was kicked down again, stood up again, was punched in the face and blood ran down his eye. For a time they played with ten people as Schweinsteiger was literally stitched together beside the game. But Schweinsteiger collected himself once more and was back to the match. For me the most outstanding player. That was really as if in a movie script. Hero dies, all is lost. But he makes his comeback and turns the tide.

    Götze’s goal was a technical masterpiece, but came a bit as a surprise. Again, as if scripted by Joseph Campbell, Messi got a final opportunity to rescue his team to a penalty shootout, but missed the goal with his freekick by a mile.

    I think the best team won. It was close, and some luck is always part of the game. But to make it that far that some bit of luck can determine the outcome, both teams have to be top notch. Kudos to Argentine as well!

    After the game, the German team again showed that they are a very likeable bunch. They emphasized the team, were humble and even the cool Neuer dedicated his air time to those players who couldn’t come to the World Cup because of some untimely injury, and to those behind the scenes. Well played, Germany.

    (yes, I am very biased :))

    • Posted July 14, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      Great summing up, and I didn’t find it biased at all, but then maybe I’m biased as well!

    • Luis
      Posted July 14, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Spot on!


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