Good evening, fans of sport, spectacle and populist nationalism, and welcome to the 2014 World Cup Final. This evening, Germany play Argentina in Rio de Janeiro for the right to declare themselves The Best International Football Team In The World Over The Last Four Weeks, and, as we have been throughout the remainder of the tournament, we’re here with live coverage of a match that is likely to be remembered as The Most Tweeted Football Match Of All-Time.

So, Germany against Argentina, then. In handing out the shellacking to eclipse all shellackings upon the host nation in the semi-finals, Germany have seen their popularity rise to unprecedented levels, and the slickness of their football in Belo Horizonte last week was such that Brazil has already confirmed that it “won’t be bothering with this bullshit any more,” and expectations are high that Germany, who haven’t always been as brilliant as they were last week over the last decade or so, will now go on to finally end their eighteen year wait to lift a major trophy once again.

If this is to happen, however, there are significant obstacles yet to overcome, not the least of which is Destiny. Over the last few weeks or so, any number of journalists who should know better have been reminding us with considerable frequency that it’s Lionel Messi’s destiny to win this competition, and this is an opinion that has come to gain some traction over the last few couple of weeks as a distinctly average looking Argentina team has overcome a  a conveniently comfortable draw to set up half of The Final That Everybody Wanted To See. It’s just a pity, we might reflect, that Germany failed so comprehensively to read this script before their semi-final match.

Historically speaking, these two nations have met each other twice before, in successive World Cup finals in 1986 and 1990. The first of these matches is probably most notable as being the last time that a World Cup final actually produced a match that was worthy of the name, while the second of these was just about the worst World Cup final of them all. Argentina won in 1986 and Germany (well, West Germany, if we’re being completely precise on the subject) won it in 1990, and other than that Argentina have their 1978 win to their name, whilst West Germany also won the trophy in 1954 and 1974. The teams line up as follows:

Germany: Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Hummels, Howedes, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Muller, Kroos, Ozil, Klose. Substitutes: Zieler, Grosskreutz, Ginter, Schurrle, Podolski, Draxler, Durm, Mertesacker, Gotze, Kramer, Weidenfeller.

Argentina: Romero, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Rojo, Biglia, Mascherano, Perez, Higuain, Messi, Lavezzi. Substitutes: Orion, Campagnaro, Gago, Di Maria, Rodriguez, Augusto Fernandez, Federico Fernandez, Palacio, Alvarez, Aguero, Basanta, Andujar.

We’ll be back here very, very shortly, to see whether Destiny can lift the trophy for the first time. It promises to be… well, we’ll see, shall we?

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Ian July 13, 201411:12 pm

As for Argentina, well I thought they were a little fortuitous to get this far in the first place. Defensively, they were tremendously strong and got stronger as the tournament went on, but they were largely uninspiring throughout the tournament save for the brilliance of Messi and a couple of moments from Higuain. They only scored two goals in four matches in the knock-out stages of the tournament, yet they were only a few minutes away from the penalty shoot-out to decide the World Cup. It’s admirable, but hardly inspiring.

This evening, they had a go early on and threw the kitchen sink at an equaliser, but it was too late by then. I think the stick for Messi over that late, late free-kick was pretty unfair. He’s Lionel Messi, not Lionel Messiah – in fact, if anything, the decision to award him with the Golden Boot was a bad one. I can think of six or seven players who had better tournaments than him. That’s not to say that he was disappointing. He was “merely” very good.

Ian July 13, 201411:02 pm

There we are, then. I thought that Germany were the best team in the tournament and put in two unbelievable performances against Portugal and Brazil. And I remain convinced that they’re the most likeable, intelligent and most enjoyable to watch team to watch in just about all of international football.

This evening, they probably just about shaded it. They came closest to scoring prior to actually scoring and kept Messi more or less locked out of the game. I was suspicious of the decision to start Klose in this match, seemed to blunt them a little in attack and they looked sharper once he was replaced.

Mark July 13, 201410:54 pm

Oh…and Bundesliga 1 EPL 0???


Mark July 13, 201410:52 pm

Odd really. I tipped Argentina to win without ever thinking during the tournament that they would. Defence good enough eventually. Messi not quite good enough eventually.
Germany the best team over the tournament? The Netherlands might want a word about that. Hoddle has just said that Germany attacked everyone from the start. Which suggests that he’s forgotten about half of Germany’s games. But they came good at the right time. And they WERE good. Yeah. Ian’s right. (Whaddya mean, what a creep?)
The extra 24 hours before the final doesn’t make the difference usually attributed to it. 6 out of 7 second semi-finalists have won the final. More important was the attritional nature of Argentina’s semi and the circus clown defending that Germany destroyed.
And this was the best World Cup finals I’ve ever watched. The main reason being that I was too young to watch, or at least remember, 1970. I’ll give you 1800 words of evidence for that over the next day or so…no…NO…come back!!!
Oh…and Alan Hansen’s finished. A worthwhile month.

Mark July 13, 201410:37 pm

24 years of hurt.

Mark July 13, 201410:36 pm

And yes Ian, Messi SHOULD have chucked in a floater there.
Germany champs. Lineker will be SO pleased.

Mark July 13, 201410:32 pm

I hope Mertersacker can take a penalty…

Mark July 13, 201410:29 pm

Manuel Neuer is annoyingly good, isn’t he? I’ve actually been waiting for the moment to write that all night – which might be a comment on Argentina’s display.

Mark July 13, 201410:26 pm

“What a goal to win a World Cup” says Tyldesley, a touch prematurely, of Gotze’s goal, which is a good un but not quite as good as ITV are making out. Deserved though.

Ian July 13, 201410:25 pm

Beautiful run and pass, and Gotze, who has been far from Germany’s best player finally, FINALLY breaks the deadlock.

Mark July 13, 201410:21 pm

The Schweinsteiger/Mascherano sub-plot slide-tackles on. Mascherano lucky again. Oooh…and Aguero on Schweinsteiger. Schweinsteiger’s odds on being sent-off himself???

Ian July 13, 201410:19 pm

I’m running out of energy for this World Cup, if I’m honest.

Mark July 13, 201410:16 pm

“Running away from a tired player…rash challenge,” says Tyldesley of Palacio’s last challenge. Palacio’s been on for 29 minutes…
Meanwhile, the game’s two best players, Mascherano and Schweinsteiger, go in for an equally “rash” one. Loser gets his second yellow. Its Mascherano. Ref bottles it. Sure to be remembered by some if the “Argies” win it.

Mark July 13, 201410:08 pm

Did my ears deceive me or did Germany’s fans just shout “Puto” at Romero’s last goalkick? No Mexican wave, either. Good crowd. GOOD crowd…

Mark July 13, 201410:06 pm

Palacio with the sort of chance which presents the only chance most of us have to say “rue.”

Mark July 13, 201410:04 pm

Argentinian kid praying . Hard. Sees himself on the big screen. Continues to pray. Hard. Well done that young man.

Mark July 13, 201410:02 pm

At least he hit the target, eh Andy?
Germany right on top.

Mark July 13, 201410:01 pm

Meanwhile, Schurrle should have scored in the first seconds of extra-time, which so far (2 mins) has been MAD…

Mark July 13, 201410:00 pm

What with all the adverts, only time for about two minutes’ analysis on ITV – only JUST enough time to discover that Dixon thinks Neuer should have been sent to the line for his altercation with Higuain..for which Germany got a free-kick, remember.
Mind you, not QUITE a complaint.

Mark July 13, 20149:55 pm

The “wonder” of modern football. With the sort of defending which has semi-scarred this tournament and the positive attitude both sides largely showed, this would have been a 3-2 classic. With good defending on both sides, in other words better football overall, a slightly frustrating 0-0.

Mark July 13, 20149:46 pm

Mario Gotze ready to come on with what looks like a birthday card for the ref…

Ian July 13, 20149:45 pm

It’s now (as I write this) 459 minutes since Argentina conceded a goal in this tournament.

Mark July 13, 20149:42 pm

Townsend believes Kroos should have taken his last shot “off his laces.” Are laces harder than boots these days??? I know boots have got soft but…

Mark July 13, 20149:38 pm

Oh well. 12-1 for Higuain to score next. Not such good odds after all.

Mark July 13, 20149:37 pm

Englishman, Scotsman and Messi’s underpants walk into a bar. Barman says “is this a joke?”

Ian July 13, 20149:36 pm

*Insert joke about Messi underpants here*

Ian July 13, 20149:34 pm

Messi shoots a couple of feet wide of the right hand post. Guy Mowbray orgasms for the seventh time this evening.

Mark July 13, 20149:30 pm

There’s been a few tweets suggesting that this is getting “a bit 1990” in the last few minutes. Needs a diving, rolling, annoying blond called Jurgen to complete the picture…

Mark July 13, 20149:23 pm

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There’s enough time to overturn bad corner decisions using the technology that was available at the LAST World Cup.

Mark July 13, 20149:17 pm

HOW THE FCUK IS THAT A FREE-KICK TO GERMANY? Higuain forgot he was hurt long enough to complain. But WHAT foul did he commit there? Talk us through it, ref.

Mark July 13, 20149:14 pm

Can’t imagine Robben would have got away with a dive like Schurrle’s. “May have been a trip,” says Townsend. Or maybe not.

Mark July 13, 20149:10 pm

And that one…

Mark July 13, 20149:10 pm

I AM hopelessly biased. That sunset pic DEFINITELY looked better on the BBC.

Ian July 13, 20149:09 pm

Not far short of the first things he’d done in 47 minutes, that. Germany have played a bit more like they did in the three or four matches prior to the semi-final, so far.

Mark July 13, 20149:07 pm

What’s the cliché? Germany “still in the dressing-room”? That said, the number 10 should have…yes…hit the target… Is that Cristiano Ronaldo I hear cackling???

Mark July 13, 20149:04 pm

Aguero for Lavezzi. Wooh. Harsh if its not an injury.

Mark July 13, 20149:04 pm

I’m no tidal expert, so I TRUST that the Copacabana fan park won’t be swept away if this goes to penalties.

Mark July 13, 20148:59 pm

“He’s always got these things up his back…his sleeve.” Hoddle on Messi. Hoddle getting confused with up his sleeve and “talking out of his arse…” there.
Ray Winston has just asked us to “have a bang on” Higuain to score next at 12-1. Aren’t they ridiculously good odds?

Mark July 13, 20148:51 pm

Without Bobby Charlton’s borderline xenophobic anti-Argentine commentary…

Ian July 13, 20148:49 pm

Woke up a little in the last fifteen minutes, that, didn’t it? Goalless at half-time, but a better second half of the first half than the first half of it, which had shades of 1990 about it.

Mark July 13, 20148:48 pm

Hermedes’s miss there…well, he HIT the target. But that wasn’t what Townsend meant, I’m guessing.
“Absorbing,” says Tyldesley. And its not a euphemism this time. Looked like it was running out of puff after 20 minutes. But its found some more.

Mark July 13, 20148:45 pm

If that Osvaldo Ardiles tweet is true (“Mark Lawrenson get in my nerves”) then I take back EVERYTHING I said about him when he was Spurs manager. Which was a LOT.

Mark July 13, 20148:41 pm

That would take a while…

Ian July 13, 20148:39 pm

If I had the option to, I would watch the shit out of that.

Mark July 13, 20148:38 pm

Not on Sky, though. They’ve got Phil Brown watching a screen. Zero-rated, surely??

Mark July 13, 20148:37 pm

It’ll be on YouTube…

Ian July 13, 20148:34 pm

I don’t know whether he will be able to tell his grandchildren about it, Mark. Judging from the look on his face when he went off, I doubt if he’ll be able to remember too much about it.

Mark July 13, 20148:33 pm

Supersub Schurrle on for Krammer veerus Krammer, who has had an afternoon which he really can tell the grandchildren about. Original, certainly.
That makes Schurrle the German David Fairclough…ask YOUR (ulp) Grandad….

Mark July 13, 20148:31 pm

Surprised Higuain didn’t know he was offside. Should have had “a little look at the linesman” before embarking on that lap of honour.

Ian July 13, 20148:31 pm

Beautiful pass over the top for Higuain, there, but the timing of his run was all wrong and the “goal” was disallowed for offside. And correctly so.

Mark July 13, 20148:22 pm

But the officiating was not as bad as Higuain’s finishing. Turning point? Pivotal moment? “Has to hit the target,” says Townsend – FOUR times in a minute. Has to hit the net, more like. Aguero, whom plays in the EPL, wouldn’t have missed it.

Ian July 13, 20148:22 pm

Well, Higuain missed a gold-plated chance to give Argentina the lead there. Kroos had what looked like a senior moment, and suddenly he’s in on goal, but he wrapped his foot badly around the ball and dragged his shot about three yards wide of the goal. The first decent chance of a pretty poor match, so far.

Mark July 13, 20148:18 pm

Geez…appalling officiating there. ONE of them must have seen Kramer’s head snap back like that.

Mark July 13, 20148:13 pm

What was the last daytime Final? 1994? Hope its better than that…

Mark July 13, 20148:12 pm

Well, it IS more 1986 than 1990 so far…as Mowbray hoped for earlier. Though, as I recall, 86 wasn’t THAT great until West Germany woke up in the second half…

Terry July 13, 20148:10 pm

Indeed, Ian. I neglected to mention that he plays for the ‘Gladbach handball team.

Mark July 13, 20148:09 pm

Oooh eck (part 2). ITV Player’s commentary is seconds ahead of the action (except when Townsend’s on the mic, when its…INSERT YOU OWN BEHIND THE TIMES COMMENT HERE). Disconcerting.
And is Kramer pronounced “Krammer”? Clive thinks so.

Ian July 13, 20148:07 pm

No, Terry! He’s never played football before!

Terry July 13, 20148:07 pm

Hello. It’s worth pointing out that Christophe Krämer was a last minute entry into the Germany squad to begin with. He’s a very good player for Borussia Mönchengladbach. Just how good he is, we are about to see.

Mark July 13, 20148:06 pm

Schweinsteiger laughing ahead of that last German free-kick. Suggesting an “imaginative” setpiece. But no. Straight into the wall, like most free-kicks here…the teases…

Mark July 13, 20148:04 pm

Well, I did fail German O-Level.
“Lavezzi is quicker than Hummels” notes Tyldesley on ITV. Which could be key…

Ian July 13, 20148:02 pm

There’s no logic behind the gendering of nouns, Mark.

Mark July 13, 20148:01 pm

Mowbray: Die Mannschaft against Die Mann. DER Mann, surely? ITV for me, then…if ITV Player’s adverts EVER bloody stop.

Ian July 13, 20147:59 pm

Good evening, sports fans! They’ve wrested the World Cup trophy from the hands of that old Brazilian guy, and it’s now sitting on a plinth as Deutchslandlied booms out around the Maracana.

Sami Khedira is out for Germany, injured in the warm-up, meaning that Christoph Kramer replaces him (his first full competitive match for Germany, though he did play ninety seconds against ALgeria in the Second Round of the competition), so that team-sheet was a little out of date.

Mark July 13, 20147:59 pm

Oooh ‘eck. Khedira out in THE WARM UP. A tragedy in football terms only but sad nonetheless.

Mark July 13, 20147:57 pm

BBC hacks looking…well…”sombre. Wondered who had died and was afraid to ask in case someone had. Then I saw ITV – smart casual (with emphasis on the casual) on the beach.
Sums up the two channels in many ways…

Mark July 13, 20147:55 pm

Anyone watching on ITV? I mean amongst “us”…although the question’s probably a valid one in general…