No, no one can blame it on Rio even though the sun prophetically cast an L-shape on one end of the field to indicate a team was inevitably going to lose at Maracana Stadium.

Argentina had all the clear-cut chances to become the Fifa World Cup champions in regulation time, not to forget in extra time as well, but seemed more preoccupied with conceding a goal.

Messi, the Messiah, painted a morose picture and looked more like a pariah as his troops wept openly.

Instead, the camera followed a virtually unknown German bench player. Mario Goetze, whose surname will be mispronounced over and over again for a long time in some parts of the world, will be on the lips of billions of football followers.


As I predicted even before the first game, the tourney was never going to be about individuals.

Not Lionel Messi, not Luis Suarez, not Thomas Mueller, not Cristiano Ronaldo, not Neymar.

It was always going to be about the country that performed as a team throughout the month-long tournament.

Sadly the burden of expectation on Messi's shoulders would have been immense enough without the captain's armband and the media juxtaposing him with Diego Maradona. His Golden Ball award for best player will be scant consolation.

It is farfetched to suggest Christ the Redeemer, perched on Corcovado hill and sporting Germany's colours, was always supporting the Europeans.

However, it's fair to say the first European champions on South American soil deserved to be four-time world beaters because they played as a unit, absorbing the pressure and riding their luck to sing Deutschland on the medal dais.

Ironically the Argies persisted on playing it through the middle of the park when it was abundantly obvious they had the German defence exposed several times when they went wide.

The reality is while both sides had 10 shots each at goal, Germany had seven on target to Argentina's two with 60 per cent possession.


Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Rodrigo Pelascio all butchered gilt-edged chances while goalkeeper Sergio Romero made a couple of blinding saves.

The victors boasted big names, such as Miroslav Klose, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and man-of-the-match Jerome Boateng, but in the eyes of coach Joachim Low they were players who would make way for substitutes when the need arose.

They operated on the platform of cohesiveness and did what the South Americans didn't religiously - play it out wide where Muller's cross found Gotze, who chested it for a volley from an oblique angle for the only goal in the second spell of extra time.

Germany keeper Manuel Neuer was equally adept to claim the Golden Glove.

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella did everything but run on to the pitch although he should have subbed off Javier Mascherano who looked out of sorts.

A hero who stopped Dutchman Arjen Robben scoring a goal in the semifinal, Mascherano appeared to be locked in a defensive mindset when the Argies needed a go-forward man in the midfield yesterday.

Any demands Sabella should step down as coach should be deemed asinine.

For me, the most disappointing aspect of the cup was the inexplicable reluctance from officials to clamp down on shirt grabbing, diving and dumb challenges.

If Fifa's logic centred on not pulling up transgressors to avoid disrupting play then I argue it would have been better to use TMOs because the silly antics caused too many stops and starts, anyway.

That Robben can confess to diving and still be allowed to get away with it is inexcusable.

Even more damning is the contemptible Suarez biting, which was no fault of the officials but the rap on the knuckle from Fifa is gutless.

Overall, the officials were superb especially refs' assistants who marshalled offsides and anything else they were privy to on the sidelines.

If anything, the Dutch should ban the two players who refused to take the first penalty kick in their semifinal loss, leaving it to unsuccessful defender Ron Vlaar.

Just like the Argies, the Dutch let themselves down.

I doubt a more memorable cup will follow in my lifetime - unless, of course, they come down hard on all the undesirable facets of play - but that will only be put to the test at the 2018 cup in Russia.

My goal of the tourney goes to Colombian striker James Rodriguez for his chest-volley-turn to the top of the net against Uruguay. Goetze did the same but had no traffic in front of him.

HB panel's final standings: Jonny Gould 29pts, Tim Claudatos 27, Bruce Barclay and Chris McIvor 25, Ritchie Howard 24, Lucas Himschoot 23.

PS: No one picked a bonus point for picking Germany to win before the cup started.