Featured Matches
Previous
Germany
Argentina
ESPNDeportes 6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Czech Republic
United States
6:15 PM GMT
Game Details
England
Norway
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Philadelphia Union
Toronto FC
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
New England Revolution
Sporting Kansas City
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Chivas USA
Seattle Sounders FC
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Russia
Azerbaijan
3:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Lithuania
United Arab Emirates
4:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Latvia
Armenia
5:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Denmark
Turkey
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Czech Republic
United States
6:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Republic of Ireland
Oman
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Germany
Argentina
ESPNDeportes 6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
England
Norway
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Morocco
Qatar
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Somozas
CD Varea
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Leioa
Sestao
5:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Izarra
Atlético Granadilla
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Puertollano
Teruel
6:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Barakaldo
Trival Valderas
6:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Alcoyano
Pena Deportiva
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Cornella
Real Jaen CF
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Gimnastic de Tarragona
Atlético Baleares
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Gimnástica Torrelavega
Lealtad
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Huesca
Toledo
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Racing Ferrol
Atletico Astorga
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Aviles Industrial
Marino de Luanco
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Real Oviedo
Amorebieta
6:30 PM GMT
Game Details
FC Cartagena
UCAM Murcia
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Hercules
Eldense
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
La Hoya Lorca
Villanovense
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
San Roque de Lepe
Cádiz
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
UD Marbella
Linense
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Philadelphia Union
Toronto FC
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
New England Revolution
Sporting Kansas City
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Chivas USA
Seattle Sounders FC
2:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Gimnasia La Plata
Estudiantes La Plata
5:00 PM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Godoy Cruz de Mendoza
River Plate
12:15 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
EC Vitória
Sport
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 1 - 0
Game Details
Goiás
Fluminense FC
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
Game Details
Crucero del Norte
All Boys
7:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Ferro Carril Oeste
Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Argentinos Juniors
Aldosivi
9:15 PM GMT
Game Details
Douglas Haig
Instituto de Córdoba
10:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Santamarina
Independiente Rivadavia
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Colón de Santa Fe
Guarini A. Franco
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Patronato
Sarmiento de Junín
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
San Martín de San Juan
Nueva Chicago
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Atletico Paranaense
América RN
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 3
Game Details
Santa Rita
Cruzeiro
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 5
Game Details
Ceará
Botafogo
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 1
Game Details
Corinthians
Bragantino
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
Flamengo
Coritiba FBC
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 3
Game Details
Santos FC
Gremio
Postp
Leg 2Aggregate: 2 - 0
Game Details
Aguilas Doradas
Independiente Santa Fe
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Atlético Junior
Atlético Huila
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
León de Huánuco
UTC
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Limon
Santos
9:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Carmelita
Perez Zeledon
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Cartagines
Universidad De Costa Rica
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Pumas Generalena
Club Sport Uruguay
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next
 Posted by Miguel Delaney
Jul 13, 2014

German preparation makes ending inevitable

Germany head coach Joachim Low believes that their World Cup-winning tournament was the result of many years of hard work.

RIO DE JANEIRO -- In terms of an ending and a climax, the delivery just couldn't be faulted. Mario Gotze's magnificent 113th-minute finish was entirely fitting of the type of goal that should win a World Cup, from the quality of the control, to the athleticism of the turn, through to the elegance of the strike. It was, without putting too fine a point on it, absolutely world-class.

It was also the perfect distillation of everything that ultimately won this World Cup for Germany: one of their most vibrant young players maximising the talent that the most sophisticated coaching structures had given him, to eventually provide true end product. Again, you can't fault the technical delivery of that ending.

As a consequence of all that, however, it wasn't exactly the most unpredictable ending. There was a sense of inevitability about Germany's deep infrastructural changes ultimately ensuring the team landed on the right result. That affords a grand scale to this great victory, but it doesn't necessarily mean it was in keeping with the repeatedly epic nature of this competition's narratives.

This World Cup had arguably more stunning storylines than any other in history, but this was a break from that, at least in the sense of how "expected" that finish was.

In that regard, the winning goal did fit the final, because this was also more reminiscent of recent tournaments. For all the unique grandeur of the Maracana as a special venue, it was not quite a special World Cup final. In fact, it was rather mid-ranking in the history of these games.

Although it had nowhere near the negativity of 1990 or 2010, it didn't come close to the coruscating crescendo of 1966 or 1986. The initial pace and openness gave way to tension and a gradual decline in dynamism. What made it stand out was the atmosphere and the setting, as well as the winning goal. Gotze was probably the only player who truly took charge of the final, but it said much that he was a substitute, benefiting from fresher legs.

As he went on, manager Jogi Low had a specific message for him: "OK, show the world you are better than [Leo] Messi and can decide the World Cup."

He certainly did the latter. And while the first part of Low's statement was clearly a stretch in order to provide motivation, it was certainly true that Gotze ended up the more decisive force on the night.

Messi, after all, had the opportunity to put Argentina ahead long before Gotze's arrival. The 47th minute represented another inversion of the tournament's general trends. After a campaign in which the No. 10 had maximised the smallest margins, he missed by inches when presented with acres of space for someone of his talent. It should really have been his moment.

Lionel Messi could not finish off what he started in the group stages. Germany proved too strong.

Instead, having been put through by Gonzalo Higuain, Messi attempted to swerve the ball beyond Manuel Neuer's reach but succeeded only in swerving it beyond the post. It should not affect the legacy of one of the greats of the game, but it is impossible to overlook the fact that it affected this final and this tournament.

Rather than serve as the campaign in which Messi put forward a decisive argument in all the debate about the greatest player in history, we saw another story unfold: Germany brought to fruition one of the greatest football projects of all time.

That also harked back to the trends of the past few tournaments. With Spain finally deposed, Germany at last did what they have long suggested they would: they replaced the Spanish at the pinnacle, finally stepping into a breach. There was no more grand obstacle; they now represent the benchmark.

Of course, most of their players would rightfully balk at the idea that this was some kind of fait accompli. They worked hard for this, and that showed in every trying moment of this final.

"From the beginning we knew we would not have only 11 players on the pitch," Low said of what was a taxing game. "We would need 14, so everyone had to be in top shape during the tournament. Everyone had to be ready. People can't always play for 90 or 120 minutes at their maximum level. You saw that today. Argentina were becoming more and more tired, so we had players like [Thomas] Muller and [Andre] Schurrle who could go deeper."

The emotion certainly went deep, as Schurrle himself indicated: "This is the best moment of my life. I had to cry because I was so overcome. I couldn't stop it. It was always a dream to become a world champion."

Germany have made it reality, and there is no denying they are a great champion. The trajectory of this team makes that all too clear. A young side have learned along the way to crown a generation.

"We've been together now for 55 days," Low added. "We started this project 10 years ago, so this is the result of many years' work, beginning with Jurgen Klinsmann. We've continued that work and our strength has been our constant progress. We'd not made this ultimate step before, but champions do what they will do. We believed we'd win it, and we worked a lot to achieve it. If anyone deserves it, then this team with [Bastian] Schweinsteiger, [Philipp] Lahm, [Lukas] Podolski, [Per] Mertesacker ... they deserve it. This team deserves it. We showed the best performances for seven matches of all the teams in this tournament, but we're looking back over 10 years of preparation and hard work. This team has developed a spirit which is unbelievable."

That made the ending, however, all too believable. There was no unpredictability, only inevitability.

Miguel Delaney

Miguel Delaney is a London-based correspondent for ESPN and also writes for the Irish Examiner, the Independent, Blizzard and assorted others. He is the author of an award-nominated book on the Irish national team called "Stuttgart to Saipan" (Mentor) and was nominated for Irish sports journalist of the year in 2011. Follow him on Twitter @MiguelDelaney.