Football Commentator & Columnist
World Cup 2014: Brazil can be proud of warm-hearted competition, says Martin Tyler
And will success of Mario Gotze and Germany re-fuel English ambition?
Last Updated: 14/07/14 12:56pm
Unlike its team, Brazil got to the end of the World Cup in good shape. Or just about.
The Maracana pitch was so drenched by the weeping skies that both Germany and Argentina had to train elsewhere on the day before the final. The stadium’s wifi system, a source of some concern when we arrived here, finally broke down three hours before kick-off.
Protesters did eventually gather in the numbers of a year earlier during the Confederations Cup, but they could not penetrate a ring of steel around the climax to the competition.
Nevertheless, the glue which kept it all in place held out to the end and Brazil is rightly proud that the pre-tournament doubters did not have their gloomy prophecies fulfilled. It was a tremendous collective effort by a warm-hearted nation who welcomed the world, doubters and all, with open arms.
It was a tremendous effort too by Germany and Argentina to reach the final, coincidentally 84 years to the day that the first Finals games took place in Uruguay in 1930.
Germany’s win in Rio was typical of the competition in which they were the best-equipped side. Extra time was required for a third final in a row, and Mario Gotze became the Andres Iniesta of 2014.
Substitutes have played a big part in this tournament and it was fitting that one, Andre Schurrle, crossed for another, Gotze, to score.
The German success was totally backed by Brazil, for whom the prospect of Argentina taking home the trophy was too much to bear. Yet if Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi and Rodrigo Palacio had taken good chances, it could have been a very different story. Eventually, Argentina conceded a goal in extra time for the first time in their World Cup history
The baby-faced Gotze had won the penalty which gave Germany their first goal of the tournament against Portugal but although he scored the opener against Ghana in the second game, he had fallen out of the starting line-up.
His winner in the final, superbly taken, was Germany’s 18th goal of this World Cup - a vast improvement on Spain’s miserly eight when becoming world champions in South Africa.
The story goes that when Mario Gotze was a little lad, he always wanted to train with his older brother and his friends. The problem was that Gotze junior was so good, they could not get the ball off him.
So the bigger boys would untie his laces which at that age, he could not do up by himself. When Mario had to go off and find someone to tie them up, they had more opportunity with the ball!
Messi looked embarrassed at receiving the Golden Ball as player of the tournament. He was outstanding in the group games and set up Angel Di Maria’s winner in the second round against Switzerland. But he still has not scored in the knockout phase at a World Cup, and the award looked simply like a consolation prize.
For me, five weeks in Brazil has been a marvellous experience. Eighteen commentaries down, and none to go! History has been made before my eyes, with Germany’s record semi-final win which included Miroslav Klose setting a new mark for goals at World Cup Finals. I also saw a European nation win the World Cup on the American continent for the first time.
It seems a long time now since England’s participation, in effect a six-day stay between the first game and elimination. I have witnessed the passion, pride and sacrifice of other countries who lasted longer.
I do believe that there is not much wrong with the football quality at the disposal of the national team but I worry that the players no longer see playing for England as the pinnacle of their careers.
Those Maracana celebrations should re-fuel English ambition. A northern European team in white winning a World Cup. It should not be the sole privilege of Germany.