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The Final

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After more than 110 minutes, I finally have a rooting interest — Argentina being shut out the rest of the way to avoid the abomination of penalty kicks.

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  • KmCO

    Heartbreaking for Argentina–but that game changer by Gotze was astounding and incredible.

    • When I first heard Goetse scored the winning goal, I had a sick image in mind.

  • wjts

    Not the best game I’ve ever seen, but an undeniably great result.

    • Jestak

      As World Cup finals go, it’s not the worst, either.

      • wjts

        It was certainly better than most, but I’ve never seen a World Cup final I’d class as a great game*. They’ve been penalty shoot-outs, narrowly averted penalty shoot-outs, or fairly one-sided wins. I’d love to see a final that was a legitimately close 3-2 game.

        *Admittedly, I’ve only been watching since ’94.

        • Jestak

          The 1986 final–also between Germany and Argentina–was exactly that, with Argentina winning 3-2. That was the first final I saw and still the best.

          And if you first watched in 1994, be thankful you were spared the dreary 1990 final.

          • wjts

            Yeah, but the bad guys won.

            • Manny Kant

              Weren’t Germany the bad guys in the 80s?

              • wjts

                In soccer, Argentina are always the bad guys.

                • Crunchy Frog

                  The Maradona-era Argentina squad had two skills: Maradona’s footwork and flopping. They were so notorious for flopping and crying to refs (and Maradona was the worst of the lot) that eventually almost everyone rooted against them.

        • pete

          1966 — Germany scored first, England equalized for 1-1 at half time. Then England went 2-1 up, but Germany equalized to send it into extra time. Geoff Hurst scored (or didn’t, if you are German) a controversial goal to put England 3-2 up. Germany pressed and pressed, but Bobby Moore found Hurst with a long outlet pass … and Hurst completed his hat-trick and sealed the result with the last kick of the game. I know I’m biased, but it was a great game.

          • wjts

            Well before my time (i.e., before I was born), but a great game. Pity about the result, though. (Ages ago, I saw an internet poll with the question, “Was England’s goal over the line?” The possible answers were, “Yes”, “No”, and “NEIN!!!”.)

          • Leeds man

            Hurst’s go-ahead probably wasn’t over the line, but it was unquestionably a goal, because the ref said so. Just as Maradona’s Hand of Arsehole was unquestionably a goal, and Lampard’s shot against Germany in 2010 wasn’t.

            • wjts

              …but it was unquestionably a goal, because the ref said so.

              There’s a (probably untrue) story that when the Soviet linesman was asked on his deathbed why he told the referee it was a goal responded, “Stalingrad”.

            • pete

              Pedant! :) I agree that Hurst’s probably didn’t cross the line, which is one reason why I love that last goal. Also the fact that Jackie Charlton was (according to his autobiography, via my memory) yelling at Moore to hack the ball into touch, and his conclusion when Moore found Hurst was, “I’ll never learn to play this game.” Unlike little brother Bobby who uncomplainingly followed instructions and marked Beckenbauer out of the match, probably the decisive tactical move.

              • Elihawk

                I was watching the wonderful “I Scored a Goal” documentary that ESPN did talking to every living person who’s scored in a World Cup Final, and Hurst told the story that he was trying to hoof it into the stands so that by the time they got the ball back, the game would be over, but he mishit it and it ended up in the back of the net. Classic.

          • John Casey

            I actually watched that game on live TV. The West German equalizer for 2-2 came in the last minute of stoppage time. It was amazing that England could pick themselves up and play on in extra time.

            And if they hadn’t, and the score had remained 2-2, both sides would have played another full game 2 or 3 days later. None of this penalty shoot-out nonsense

            • Crunchy Frog

              Whenever I’ve questioned the limitations on substitutions I’m told by futbol affectionados that “real mean play a full game”. Then when I question the idiocy of using penalty kids to decide a world cup match the same folks (literally the same) tell me that the players are too tired to go on.

              I guess some people are just too blinkered to be able to see an obvious solution to both of these problems.

              But, hey, maybe they are right. Maybe this is how all sports should be decided. The next NBA final game that goes into overtime, let’s have the players line up to play H-O-R-S-E. For the next NFL final, we can have a field goal kicking exhibition from 50 yards. And for baseball, we’ll do a home run hitting contest instead of extra innings.

              • Crunchy Frog

                “real men”

                • liberalrob

                  How about “real mean men?”

                  The wussification of soccer had the added indignity of water breaks this year. Because real men play until they die of heat stroke, I guess.

          • dn

            I just watched that match the other day (the whole thing can be seen on YouTube). One of the most entertaining things I’ve watched in a long time.

      • wengler

        Best final since France destroyed Brazil in ’98.

        • Crunchy Frog

          Yeah, that French food poisoning was extremely effective (look it up).

  • Marek

    Good chances by both sides, fun to watch. Argentina could have won. But SCHWEINSTEIGER!

    (I just like saying that.)

    • Davis X. Machina

      Translates to roughly “Pig-supervisor”.

      Always reminds me of the Lloyd Alexander books, starring Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper, and Hen-Wen, the oracular pig.

      • wjts

        Translates to roughly “Pig-supervisor”.

        I love him even more now. (Somehow, I could never get into the Prydain books.)

      • Eric

        Literally it means Pig-mounter.

    • wjts

      I know I said this before, but I watched the Germany/Algeria game on the Univision website and I swear the commentators were having a contest between themselves to see who could pronounce “Schweinsteiger” in the most comically exaggerated German accent. For my money, the winner was the guy who managed “SCHVINE-sch-TAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG-ach”.

      • Ronnie Pudding

        I heard that as well. It was funny.

        Anyway, it wasn’t a very good final. A potentially great WC failed to finish strongly.

        • wjts

          Like I said above, this is my sixth time at this particular rodeo and the final has always been a bit of a disappointment even when I’ve enjoyed the result.

          • Ronnie Pudding

            I blame Argentina as their semifinal sucked. Also, had they converted an early chance, everything would have changed.

            • Leeds man

              had they converted an early chance, everything would have changed.

              Yeah, the Germans would have won 3-1.

              • Ronnie Pudding

                Sounds more exciting (which was my point).

      • Manny Kant

        Yes! I watched that game on Univision, too! They said Schweinsteiger a lot! They apparently decided to stop saying Schweinsteiger’s name for the games against France and Brazil.

        • Jestak

          I miss watching the Cup on Univision. Even though I don’t speak Spanish, I always preferred their broadcasts over ESPN, because their announcers always focused on what was happening on the field and told you who had the ball, rather than yapping about irrelevant trivia.

    • hickes01

      Agreed. I”m trying to figure out how to make “SCHWEINSTEIGER!” my ringtone. Too bad he doesn’t play basketball, “SCHWEINSTEIGER!” would be a great dunk call.

  • MAJeff

    I’ve been saying it for years: beware the eyebrows of Lahm.

  • Cruyff – Beckenbauer and a few other good players 1974

  • Leeds man

    the abomination of penalty kicks

    Easily avoided if drama weren’t so important and lucrative to the vampire squid running the show. In the event of a draw after 120 minutes, give it to the side with the most corners. That would actually encourage and reward attacking play.

    • Jordan

      I’ve always kinda wondered what the optimal solution would be, but I’d never thought of this one! :)

    • Ronnie Pudding

      I think that’s a terrible idea. Then you’d have teams late in the match deliberately playing for corners, trying to kick the ball of defenders and across the back line.

      Anything that determines the game by a stat other than goals/points is a bad idea. E.g., bNFL game determined by the team with the most first downs.

      • Leeds man

        you’d have teams late in the match deliberately playing for corners

        How do you deliberately play for corners without threateningly penetrating the other side’s territory? It’s not that easy. Deciding by shots would be silly, because the sides could alternate taking potshots from 40+ yards. A corner, on the other hand, indicates real intent and commitment.

        • wjts

          I like the old replay system, but that’s a non-starter.

          • Agreed.

          • dn

            Ditto.

          • scythia

            Why not? Doesn’t everyone love extra TV money?

        • LosGatosCA

          Playing for corners beats the hell out of stalling for penalty kicks.

          Heck, they might even accidentally put one (of the corners) in the net and avoid the non-scoring standoff result.

          Lots worse strategies than playing to dominate corner quicks in a soccer game.

        • Jeffrey Kramer

          I’ve always thought it should go to a judge’s decision as in a boxing match when there isn’t a knockout. Basically the same purpose as your suggestion — discouraging going into a defensive shell — but just going by corner kicks seems a bit limiting to me. Judges would be told to give the decision to the team which created significantly more scoring chances (I wouldn’t automatically count a corner as a scoring chance), then — if the teams are essentially even in that, to the team which committed significantly fewer fouls (on the theory that you commit fouls when you’re about to be beaten, or as part of a strategy to slow the game down or perhaps take out the opponent’s best player), then if they’re even there to the team which had the most possession in the opponent’s end.

          • scythia

            OMG. You want judges appointed by FIFA entrusted to make impartial decisions on who should win the entire Cup?

            • wjts

              Only if the judge is Pierluigi Collina.

      • DSN

        Number of hits off the workwork basically avoids this problem: nobody will deliberately put it on the post when they could put it in the net.

    • Manju

      After 90 minutes it should be sudden death. For the Finals at least. Nobody got nothing to do tomorrow so let them go on till they drop.

      If that sounds heartless, we can double the size of the goal if nobody scores after 30 minutes. That should end things soon and its purer than penalty kicks (which I don’t even mind, but they appear to be to Futball what the DH is to Base…or California Rolls are to Sushi…but I digress).

      • R. Johnston

        Extra time should definitely be golden goal. If ending things in a timely fashion is really that important, relax offsides rules in extra time–let offensive players have a step or two on the last defender to eliminate the offsides trap and allow for generally more aggressive efforts to score–and treat extra time penalties like in hockey where you team plays a man down for two minutes (five for a yellow card).

        Penalty kicks are nothing like the DH; they’re like a coin flip, or maybe like having baseball players shoot free throws rather than play extra innings. They’re largely random and a completely different game.

        • Anonymous

          I like the hockey idea. In fact, after 105 minutes, just take anyone with a yellow card off the field. Except the ref. And just stop having the offsides rule except in the box.

          If it’s still tied, get some bigger goals and put them on the goal box line.

      • Manny Kant

        Just allows 4 more subsitutions, or something.

      • Inner Partisan

        But… I like California Rolls :-( I’ve also been known to, on occasions… drink Vodka. And enjoyed it. I’m not ashamed because WE WON THE FUCKING WORLD CUP! ALL THE VODKA FOR ME! SCHLAAAND!

        Ahem. Seriously, now: They tried Sudden Death, for a time. It was called “Golden Goal”. The only team to score one in an important tournament, winning that very tournament with it? Well, take a guess…

        • Thlayli

          France in Euro 2000.

      • Jeffrey Kramer

        Another method for making OT goals more likely would be to remove the offside rule. Or to remove the goalkeeper’s privilege of using his hands.

    • jafd

      Q: Why are soccer balls round ?

      A: If they were square, you’d have to kick too many corners.

  • Heliopause

    How stupid is the penalty kick method of resolving these games?

    Argentina played 450 minutes in the “knockout round”. That’s the equivalent of five full games. They scored a total of two goals in those games. They played the equivalent of three full games without scoring a single goal.

    In the semifinal and final they scored no goals in the equivalent of two and two-thirds games.

    In the current format you can be shutout in the equivalent of three out of five games and still come within a hair’s breadth of winning it all. Goddamned stupid.

    Luckily, the team that pretty clearly was the best from the start of the tournament, Germany, won the thing. Or perhaps unluckily, as there is no incentive now to change the format, since the team whose offense ranged from awful to mediocre over the equivalent of five games didn’t ultimately win.

    • Anonymous

      With much of their attacking talent injured, Argentina was an average with one all world player. La Albiceleste need a creative midfielder in the worst way. Despite their limitations, Mascherano almost dragged them to a win.

      • Leeds man

        Demichelis and Rojo were far from average. Wish they could play for England.

      • Kurzleg

        Argentina’s play in the final reminded me of the US in their knockout loss to Belgium: pack in the defense and hope to capitalize if a scoring chance comes along. Argentina had more and better chances than the US did but never got close to capitalizing.

        • Bufflars

          Argentina had two or three chances that should have been goals in the first half alone. “Never got close to capitalizing” seems like an overstatement to me.

      • Johnny Sack

        I feel like Germany didn’t get much love before because they had a team. Not one superstar the media could latch onto to further its great man theory of sports.

      • wengler

        It didn’t help that the manager didn’t even pick one of the best strikers in the world(Tevez).

  • Elihawk

    Congrats to Germany for finally producing a likeable World Cup champion on the 4th try!

  • Since I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old, let me just say: Götze.

    • Anonymous

      Man. I should’ve been prescient and registered Götze.cx ahead of time.

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