By Mike Woitalla
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Mario Goetze, who was born nearly two years after Germany last won the World Cup, struck a left-footed volley into the Argentine net to give Germany its fourth world championship.
In overtime, after 113 minutes of scoreless play, Andre Schuerrle swung in a cross that the 22-year-old Goetze tapped down with his chest to set up the shot that returned the trophy to Germany for the first time since 1990.
Here are the reasons why Germany is deserved champion:
Goals! The Argentines finished the tournament after going 322 minutes – more than five hours – without hitting the net. The Germans scored a tournament-leading 18 goals in their seven games, were never shut out, and have now been the World Cup’s highest-scoring team for the third straight tournament.
The Germans reached the final with a 7-1 win over host Brazil, the biggest semifinal win in history. The Argentines arrived thanks to a shootout victory over the Netherlands after the first scoreless semifinal in World Cup history.
Hummels and Co. The Argentines got to the final thanks to unrelenting defense. Until Goetze scored, they had played 486 shutout minutes, not having given up a goal since group play, until Goetze struck. The Argentines did attack the Germans, the final did offer exciting periods of end-to-end action, but the central defense of Matts Hummels and Jerome Boateng ended up being the best pairing at the World Cup.
Both are also solid on the ball, enabling the Germans to keep possession once they gain it. Hummels also scored twice, including the gamewinner in the 1-0 round of 16 victory over France. Outside back and captain Philipp Lahm was a constant attacking threat, enabling the Germans to surge when the midfield got bogged down.
Depth. The Argentines depended on Lionel Messi to bail them out with goals in their three win group games and he helped set up goals in their 1-0 wins over Switzerland and Belgium. When Messi wasn’t effective, neither was his team.
The Germans got goals from eight different players. Both the 24-year-old Schuerrle and Goetze came off the bench in the final. Schuerrle scored against Algeria and Brazil after coming off the bench. Goetze had not started since the round-of-16 game against Algeria.
They complemented a core of veteran attackers from Thomas Mueller -- second leading scorer in the tournament with five goals – to Miroslav Klose, who in his fourth World Cup appearance broke the all-time World Cup record when he upped his total to 16 with two strikes. The Germans could overcome the poor form of playmaker Mesut Ozil because they were able to attack in a variety of ways.
A glorious ending. This World Cup, tied for the highest scoring in 20 years, looked in danger of the most unsatisfactory of finishes -- a penalty-kick shootout. But the Germans came out attacking in overtime and produced a fantastic goal. They deserve a big Danke for that.