Germany cap memorable SWC

After five weeks and 64 matches, the 2014 Soccer World Cup climaxed with Germany wearing the crown.

Die Mannschaftscored 18 goals, conceded just four and were the most organised and tactically disciplined team in Brazil. They boasted the right balance in all departments and I believe are deserved world champions.

Moreover, the players that were called upon from the bench all made an impact over the course of the championship and ultimately contributed to Germany winning their fourth World Cup title and first since 1990.

Turning to the final which pitted Europe versus South America, the Germans started the match in their traditional 4-2-3-1 formation.

Meanwhile, Argentina employed a 4-4-2 formation and looked to defend with two banks of four which would, in turn, allow Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain the freedom to play upfront on the counter-attack.

Largely because Germany controlled the ball possession in the first stanza, Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella made a very brave decision at the start of the second half. He replaced Ezequiel Lavezzi for Sergio Aguero and reverted to a 4-3-3 system.

The above tactical alteration allowed Argentina back into the game. Germany no longer controlled the lion’s share of possession and, as a result, the Argentines looked much more of a threat in the second half.

However, the longer the game wore on without La Albiceleste breaking the deadlock, the more one felt that the game would be won by the Germans owing to their tactical discipline and continuous work ethic.

As in previous matches, the Germans again punished a team on transition from defence to attack, while the tactically astute Joachim Loew made the correct choices with his substitutions. 22-year-old attacking midfielder, Mario Gotze, came on to win the game with a fantastic finish late in the second half of extra-time.

For me, his was the goal of the tournament. What a way to win the World Cup with a fantastic control and finish on the volley.

While both teams created 10 goal-scoring chances, crucially Germany managed to hit the target on seven occasions as opposed to Argentina, who only mustered two shots on target over the full 120 minutes of play.

Brazil 2014 was a rollercoaster ride which saw 171 goals scored at an average of 2.7 goals per game. This goal-tally was matched only at France 1998. In 2010, for instance, the average number of goals-to-games was 2.3.

Furthermore, Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica surprised us all with flowing and constructive football.

We also witnessed the end of an era with the likes of Xavi Hernandez, Frank Lampard, Miroslav Klose, Andrea Pirlo and Didier Drogba almost certainly competing in their final World Cup campaigns. 

New stars were born in Brazil. 23-year-old James Rodriguez was surely one of, if not the brightest. The rising Colombian superstar won the Golden Boot award having scored six goals and contributed two assists.

For Germany, 24-year-old midfielder Toni Kroos notched two goals and four assists over seven matches. He boasted a pass completion rate of 84 per cent and was undeniably a vital cog in the German machine.

For the Netherlands, 22-year-old Stefan de Vrij and Memphis Depay, 20, were stellar. The former, who captains his club side Feyenoord, showed great maturity in the centre of defence for the Dutch.

Depay, meanwhile, enhanced his reputation having scored twice and assisted once. The young forward can be likened to team-mate Arjen Robben owing to his speed off the mark, trickery and powerful shot.

The fifth and final young player that piqued my interest in Brazil was 21-year-old midfield dynamo Paul Pogba.

He played exceptionally well during the tournament and is a huge asset for both club and country. In fact, I believe Juventus will struggle to keep hold of him should some of the richer clubs come calling.

As for my player of the tournament, that accolade goes to Robben. His speed, work-rate and ability to run at players ensured he was always a threat. He scored three goals and provided one assist in Brazil.

Tinkler was capped 48 times for Bafana Bafana. He is currently Orlando Pirates’ assistant coach.

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