Germany needed 113 minutes to earn its day under the sun. This Sunday (13 July), Mario Götze came off the bench to become the German hero of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil final match at the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro. The attacking midfielder came off the bench in the final minutes of regulation time to make history in the second half of overtime.
The final was dominated by the Germans, who repeated against Argentina their quick-pass strategy used throughout the World Cup . But Messi's team brought danger on the breakthroughs, leveraging the opportunities to pry open the German defence but failing to convert them into goals.
In the final minutes of the second half of extra time, with penalties already looking a certainty, Götze doubled as a striker and guaranteed the German frenzy at the Maracanã. With the fourth title, Germany now joins Italy for the exclusive club of four-time champions, now only one title behind Brazil.
Germany dominated possession in the opening minutes, but the first shot on goal came from Argentina. In a fast-paced breakthrough, Higuaín invaded the right flank and curled a shot that gave goalkeeper Neuer a scare. With a tight-knit defence, the South Americans then continued to bet on breaks from the right flank, circling around Höwedes.
Joachim Löw had to make his first substitution before half time, as Kramer suffered a blow to the head and had to be replaced with Schürrle. The player would soon be needed. Müller tore down from the left flank and passed to Germany's number 9 in the midfield, who struck a beautiful volley and forced Romero into a great save.
The South Americans returned a different team from break time, advancing the defence and maintaining possession for longer. Sabella also made changes to the his team, substituting Aguero with Lavezzi. Messi almost opened the score sheet at the 46th minute. He received a great pass from the left flank inside the box and curled a shot that went inches from Neuer's crossbar.
Germany gradually recovered the field of play, but were still unable to bring danger to Romero's goal post. The Europeans would pass the ball around the Argentine box, but the South Americans were tightly knit and would not allow the ball to come in.
At the 74th minute, Messi once again brought peril to Neuer's turf. The Barcelona star received the ball on the right flank, charged up the edge of the box and hit a poisonous left-foot shot, but the ball went right of the goalpost. Shortly after, Higuaín was replaced by fellow striker Palacio.
Now more focused on the attack, the Germans hit hard at the 81st minute. Özil made a great play down the right flank, sidestepped to the left foot and nudged a perfect pass to Kroos. Germany's 18 made a resounding fumble of the shot, however, sending the ball slowly and irrevocably off-target.
Argentina made its last substitution 5 minutes before the end of regulation time. Perez left the match to make way for defensive midfielder Gago. Joachim Löw also brought change to Germany, removing Klose from the pitch to be replaced by Mario Götze. Visibly tired and already preparing for overtime, the two teams refrained from venturing too far in the final minutes of regulation time, and the goalless score remained until the referee's final whistle.
The German went on an all-out assault against the Argentines in extra time, bringing more danger to the Argentine box than ever, but leaving more room open for breaks. Schürrle forced Romero into a great save right at the first minute, taking advantage of a quick play from the left flank, but at the 6th minute it was Palacio's turn to raise hairs at the defence. He received the ball from behind the defence, chested it down and tried to dispatch it past Neuer, but the ball rolled out.
The decisive play would only come at the 22nd minute of overtime, from the feet of two players who had not been in the official line-up. Schürrle tore down through the left flank and made a laser-focused cross to Götze. Germany's 19 chested the ball masterfully and struck a fantastic volley to put the Europeans ahead. It was only Götze's second goal for Germany in the World Cup, but the Germans will be hard-pressed to find a more important one this side of the last 10 years.
In desperation, the Argentines would hit any ball straight into the box, scraping for a saving last-minute goal. But there was little time left, and Germany's tall defence kept any serious danger at bay. The end result is now history: Germany has won the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil after 24 years, and holds the coveted title of four-time champion of the event.