DAVE SEDDON’S BRAZIL 2014 VERDICT
If there were two men who deserved to get their hands on the World Cup trophy, then Germany pair Bastian Schweinsteiger and Christoph Kramer truly did.
‘Putting your body on the line’ is an oft-used phrase by coaches and managers – and those two midfielders did just that.
Kramer put his head on the block for the German cause, or rather in the way of Ezequiel Garay’s shoulder during the first half of Sunday night’s final.
Such was the force of the blow he was on the end of, I suspect Kramer will still be trying to remember his own name this time next week.
The shuddering blow was to halt the Borussia Monchengladbach man’s involvement in the final after just half-an-hour or so.
Kramer himself had been a last-minute replacement for Sami Khedira, injured in the warm-up.
As for Schweinsteiger, the Bayern Munich schemer gave everything for the German cause – including a decent amount of blood.
He was my man of the match by a country mile, shielding his back four and being the starting point of much of their forward play.
Schweinsteiger required running repairs to close a cut on his cheekbone, inflicted by Sergio Aguero’s swinging fist.
Back he came to see out the final minutes and clinch Germany’s fourth World Cup triumph – the first as a reunified country.
It was not only blood, sweat and toil which got the Germans over the line though.
They enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the final. That said, Argentina were content to let them have the ball at times and rely on the counter-attack.
And as has been widely recognised, victory was many years in the making in terms of Germany having re-built their football structure.
That patience and foresight was deserving of such reward on a global scale and you suspect that Brazil 2014 will not be a one-off with this crop of players.
As for the competition as a whole, it was up there with the best in my lifetime in terms of pure spectacle.
England reaching the semi-finals 24 years ago will always make Italia ’90 special for me, but from a sit-back-and-being entertained perspective, this summer had plenty.
I was perplexed by Lionel Messi being awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.
Strong in the group stage, the little fella faded somewhat, and while still decent, was far from the star billing awarded to him by FIFA’s technical think tank.
James Rodriguez was more fitting of the award, so too Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller and Schweinsteiger.
Rodrigeuz can console himself with the Golden Boot award for his six goals.
BBC viewers voted the turn and volley scored by Rodrigeuz in Colombia’s win over Uruguay as goal of the tournament.
Hard to disagree, but I will! My nod went in the direction of Tim Cahill’s superbly-executed finish for Australia against Holland.
It was a refreshing World Cup in terms of the emergence and performances of some of those outside the powerhouse nations.
Colombia were excellent and must be kicking themselves after the occasion got to them when playing Brazil.
Costa Rica and Mexico were good to watch, so too the USA and Algeria.
Russia 2018 awaits, and who would bet against Germany lifting the trophy a fifth time in Moscow?