[GERMANY-ARGENTINA: Reaction] Mario Goetze came into the World Cup as one of Germany's stars, but he found himself on the bench for the last three matches of the World Cup. When he came on late in regulation of Sunday's final against Argentina, his coach, Joachim Loew, told him to go out and decide the World Cup, which he did, becoming the first sub to score the winning goal in the history of World Cup finals.
"I said to Mario Goetze," said Loew afterwards, "'OK, show to the world that you're better than Messi and you can decide the World Cup. You have all the possibilities to do that.' I had a good feeling with him."
Loew watched as Goetze chested down the centering pass from Andre Schuerrle and blasted it past Argentine goalie Sergio Romero for the 1-0 win.
The goal came in the 113rd minute, three minutes before Andres Iniesta's goal four years ago gave Spain a 1-0 win over the Netherlands. Sunday's game was the fifth final decided in overtime. (Two other finals were decided on penalty kicks.)
"I don't know how to describe it," Goetze said. "You just shoot that goal in, you don't really know what's happening."
World Cup Finals, Goals by Substitutes:
PLAYER, TEAM, SCORE, OPPONENT (YEAR)
Dick Nanninga, Netherlands, 1-3, Argentina (1978)
Alessandro Altobelli, Italy, 3-1, vs. West Germany, (1982)
Rudi Voeller, West Germany, 2-3 vs. Argentina (1986)
Mario Goetze, Germany, 1-0 vs. Argentina (2014)
Germany's title was the culmination of a decade-long effort to restructure the national team program. One of the architects of Germany's revival was Jurgen Klinsmann, who coached Germany to third place at the 2006 World Cup and now coaches the U.S. national team.
"In 2004, German soccer was down," said Lowe, Klinsmann's assistant in 2006. "We took decisive steps. We said, 'We have to invest more in the education so we are technically better. Just having the German virtue is not enough.'"
Loew paid credit to Klinsmann for his work.
"We've been together for 55 days," he said, "[but] we started this project 10 years ago and this is the result of that work, beginning with Jurgen Klinsmann. Though the years, we were able to increase our performances and make progress. We believed it."
Four Germans -- Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Per Mertesacker -- played on Sunday and played in 2006 when Klinsmann's team beat Argentina in a shootout in the quarterfinals. They were among nine Germans who played on Sunday after taking part in the 4-0 win over Argentina four years ago in the quarterfinals.
That kind of experience made Germany a title contender in 2014 and will make it the favorite in 2018 in Russia. Goetze, at 22, was the youngest of seven Germans who played in the final and will still be under 30 four years from now.
22 Mario Goetze
23 Christoph Kramer
23 Andre Schuerrle
24 Thomas Mueller
25 Mats Hummels
25 Jerome Boateng
MESSI'S PAIN. There was a consolation prize for Lionel Messi after Argentina's 1-0 loss to Germany. He was awarded the adidas Golden Ball as the World Cup's best player, somewhat surprising after two quiet performances in the semifinals and final. But it was an individual award that meant little to him.
"It is great pain," Messi said. "We played something important, the country was watching and we wanted to give them this happiness, for them and for us. For me personally, I lived moments of great sadness with the national team and this was the chance to change that. It is a pity not to go home with the cup, but we go home with our heads high."
Argentina's fourth-place finish was its best since 1990 when it finished second to West Germany, losing, also, 1-0, in the final.
MARADONA'S LAMENT.Messi will always be compared to Diego Maradona, who was on the Argentine team in 1990, four years after leading the Albiceleste to its second World Cup title in Mexico City.
"Argentina deserved at least to go to penalty kicks," said Maradona, the Argentina coach four years ago, of Sunday's final. He said the match turned on Gonzalo Higuain's miss in the first half when he had a breakaway but fired his shot wide. "If we put the Higuain goal in," he said, "I think that we would be celebrating. Germany was not overwhelming."
SABELLA'S PUZZLING SUB.One of the surprising moves of the final was Argentine coachAlejandro Sabella's decision to take Ezequiel Lavezzioff at the half for Sergio Aguero, who had been injured and missed most of the knockout stage.
"Lavezzi was playing well, but we wanted to be more attacking," said Sabella. The move backfired as Aguero, who is Maradona's son-in-law, contributed little in contrast to Lavezzi, who gave the Germans trouble down the right wing.
Even Maradona questioned the move. "I still wonder why the change," he said. "If Lavezzi was playing phenomenonally, I do not want to change anything."
July 13 in Rio de Janeiro
Germany 1 Argentina 0 (OT). Goal: Goetze 113.
Germany --Neuer; Lahm, Hummels, Boateng, Hoewedes; Kramer (Schuerrle, 31), Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Ozil (Mertesacker, 120), Mueller; Klose (Goetze, 88).
Argentina --Romero; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Rojo; Biglia, Mascherano, Perez (Gago, 86); Lavezzi (Aguero, 46), Higuain (Palacio, 78), Messi.
Referee:Nicola Rizzoli (Italy).