Germany's strength in depth delivers ultimate prize

Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:58pm EDT
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By Simon Evans

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Germany’s impressive strength in depth proved the decisive factor in their 1-0 extra-time World Cup final victory over Argentina on Sunday as Lionel Messi failed to deliver the golden touch for the South Americans.

It was a substitute, Mario Goetze, who struck the decisive blow for Germany after coming on for Miroslav Klose while in contrast, with Messi below his best, Argentina’s other strikers failed to compensate.

International football has become a 14-man game, never more so than when extra time makes it a two-hour contest, and it was Germany’s bench that provided the extra firepower to turn the match in their favor.

Argentina came into this tournament widely described as a team with an abundance of attacking talent but a questionable defense – but throughout the month in Brazil and, in particular, in the final, they proved to be the exact opposite.

The Argentine back four was again tight and disciplined throughout - they did not conceded a goal inside 90 minutes in the entire knockout phase of the tournament - but an attack which managed eight goals in seven games lacked the killer touch.

Half of those eight goals came from Messi but the four-times world player of the year failed to score in the knockout stages.

Germany, though, lived up to their billing as a team with quality options throughout their 23-man squad and when the players on the bench were called on by Joachim Loew in the final, they made the difference.

Loew’s problems on Sunday began before a ball had been kicked as key midfielder Sami Khedira suffered a calf injury during the warm-up and was forced to pull out of the game.   Continued...

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (centre R) and German President Joachim Gauck (centre L) pose with the Germany's coach Joachim Loew (front R) and his players after Germany beat Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro July 13, 2014.    REUTERS/Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann/Handout via Reuters