Germany lifted the 2014 World Cup after an extra time Mario Gotze volley secured a 1-0 victory over Argentina in the final. The triumph means the Germans have lifted the famous trophy four times in their history, moving them level with Italy’s total and becoming the first European nation to win a World Cup on South American soil.
Despite a midfield crisis which saw Sami Khedira, who impressed in the 7-1 semi-final victory against Brazil, injured in the warm up and his replacement Christoph Kramer taken off with concussion, Germany’s strength in depth came through in the end. Argentina captain Lionel Messi threatened to break through several times but they were able to limit the Golden Ball winner to just one clear cut opportunity over the course of the 120 minutes.
They owe much of their success defensively to the experience and know-how of Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was a target for Man Utd earlier this summer, did a stellar job in front of the back four. The Bayern Munich man started the tournament on the bench but quickly nailed down a place in the Germany team and as captain Philipp Lahm moved to his natural position of right-back, Schweinsteiger took over the role of holding midfielder.
His discipline and work rate were crucial in the final as Messi tried his best to find space in the hole in front of the back four. It felt like Schweinsteiger was always the one breaking up the Argentina attacks or winning a pressure relieving free-kick for his side. The midfielder’s action heat map shows just how important he was to the Germans, Schweinsteiger popped up all over the central area of the pitch, giving his defence fantastic protection.
When Sergio Aguero challenged for an aerial with the impressive Schweinsteiger, he caught him with a fist, causing the midfielder to bleed from just under his eye. It may sound clichéd but this incident, which should have seen Aguero given a second yellow card, summed up Schweinsteiger’s committed and determined performance.
He was extremely reliable when in possession of the ball, often giving the more attack-minded German midfielders the ball in advanced areas of the pitch. He was a big reason in Germany’s dominance in the possession column. Schweinsteiger’s recycling of the ball was more often than not, done at speed. He never really held onto it for too long which was important as it meant Argentina were never allowed to settle. In total, he completed a fantastic 90% of his total passes.
But it was Schweinsteiger’s ability to read the game and keep Messi under some sort of control that was most impressive. Although he picked up an early booking, which was the only blemish on his defensive stats from the final, he was able to win possession back after 100% of his attempted tackles, which helped limit the Argentinians threat in the final third. He also completed two clearances, blocked one shot and won two free kicks for his side.
Schweinsteiger rose to the occasion following the loss of Khedira and Kramer to show that he is a truly complete central midfielder. His presence in the midfield has allowed the likes of Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil to weave their magic in the latter stages of this tournament.
His Squawka Performance Score of 24 does not quite reflect how impressive he was in the final as he was most people’s man of the match, including mine. The battle between him and Javier Mascherano was extremely intense and fantastic to watch, neither gave each other an inch throughout the 120 minutes.
The historic German victory means that Schweinsteiger has now achieved all you can in the game of football. Seven Bundesliga titles, seven German Cups, a Champions League success, a UEFA Super Cup and a Club World Cup have now been joined on his résumé by the biggest accolade of them all, the World Cup.
It means Bastian Schweinsteiger will go down in history, not only as a Bayern Munich great, but as a bona fide Germany legend.
Related Teams: Germany