World Cup final: Five things we learned

By Michael Burgess in Rio

Five things learned from Germany's 1-0 World Cup final over Argentina in Rio this morning.

Messi ain't no Maradona
Lionel Messi may have been the world's best player for much of the past decade, but he still has a long way to go to match the feats of Diego Maradona at this level. The Argentine captain had a decent game today, with some clever passes and elusive runs.

Indeed, on a couple of occasions it was only because his team-mates weren't on the some wavelength - both Sergio Aguero and Rodrigo Palacio failed to anticipate Messi passes and missed opportunities. Messi also played the crucial pass that led to Gonzalo Higuain beating Manuel Neuer in the first half - only for the effort to be ruled out for offside.

But there came a time, especially in extra time, where the Argentine number ten had to take the game by the scruff of the neck, like Maradona did in so many matches during the 1986 campaign. Messi needed to break out of his signature amble and hit full throttle, but instead he is left with a feeling of 'what might have been'.

Germany's golden generation will roll on
Most countries have a golden generation for one, maybe two, tournaments. Portugal's came between 2000 and 2004, Spain's finished (after four years) at the 2012 European Championships and England's is long gone.

Germany's was launched in 2006, with a clutch of young players who surprised everyone by finishing third at their home World Cup. Since then their record in major tournaments has been finalist (2008), third (2010), third (2012) and winner (2014).

But, unfortunately for their opponents, this golden generation will keep on rolling. Look at the young players in their squad; Mesut Ozil is only 25, Thomas Mueller has ten World Cup goals to his name and is just 26. Then there is Andre Schuerrle (23), Toni Kroos (24) Mats Hummels (25) and goalscoring hero Mario Goetze (22). In all almost half of Joachim Loew's squad at this tournament are under 25 - watch out world.

Man of the match judgements can be a joke
What is so hard about judging the best performer in a particular game? It should be simple but especially on big occasions, no matter what the sport, it consistently goes wrong. Sure, German striker Mario Goetze scored a brilliant goal - and it was the moment of the match - but was that enough to justify the award?

A more correct - but less glamorous choice - might have been Jerome Boateng or either of the Argentinian centre backs, who blunted the German attack for most of the match. Then there was Marcos Rojo, who completely limited Thomas Mueller's impact, or either of Philip Lahm or Bastian Schweitzer.

FIFA needs to return to South America soon - and examine semi final scheduling
On the evidence of this tournament, it's crazy that FIFA has not staged a World Cup on the South American continent since 1978. Fair enough, the 1986 event was scheduled for Colombia and later shifted (to Mexico) but almost 40 years is way too long.

This continent might lack some of the infrastructures of Europe but Latin America is the natural home for the event - it's no conicendence that this has been a brilliant World Cup. Hell, why not bring it back to Brazil in 20 years? They have the stadiums now and it would help to offset some of the billions the government here has invested in this tournament.

Fifa also need to look at their semi-final scheduling. It would be unpopular with the television networks, but it might be time to play both last four matches on the same day.

German had three full days to prepare for this match, Argentina had barely 48 hours. At this level, that can be a crucial difference. Was it a coincedence that the South Americans seemed to tire considerably once the match went to extra time?

Get ready for a shock; There was someone more unpopular than Sepp Blatter at a World Cup final
For various reasons, Fifa president Sepp Blatter tends to attract a hostile reception at World Cups. Usually, like in South Africa four years ago or Brazil this time, it is frustration from Fifa's one sided contracts, which put all of the costs and few of the benefits on the host nation.

Blatter was booed every time he appears on the stadium's big screen today, with some loud abuse during the trophy ceremony. But for once he was outshone, with Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff the subject of some unprintable abuse at the end of the match, the kind that would make even a sailor or a solider turn their heads. Local media are divided on her chances of re-election this but if the stadium is an accurate sample her days are numbered.

- NZ Herald

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