As the month long World Cup finals come to an end, two powerhouses of world football pit their wits against each other in what will hopefully be a final to remember. So many others have lived up to expectation over the previous nineteen editions since the first in 1930 and this time around maybe we will add this as one of the greatest finals in living memory. Germany and Argentina both share a victory in each of their only two final appearances versus each other – Argentina in 1986 and Germany in 1990. The prize at the end of it all is a glistening piece of iconic sculpted gold known the world over.
One will claim the bragging rights come full time, whether within 90 minutes or at most penalties. One assumption off the bat is that it is pretty much inevitable that we will not witness end-to-end wide open expansive football that lit up the early stages of this tournament but a cagey affair. After all, there is too much at stake.
In 1990 both sides tried to outwit each other tactically in one of the cagiest of all World Cup finals ever, where all it took was an 85 minute Andreas Brehme penalty to decide the outcome. Brehme later outlined that the penalty should not have been given. It was too late for Argentina but now it is time to make amends.
Kamikaze football will surely be nowhere to be seen but Germany is son the ascendancy after Brazil’s 7-1 capitulation in the semi-final.
As for Argentina, Lionel Messi looks jaded and something else seems to be playing with his mind, but let’s hope it’s his fitness and he has saved his best for last. Mascherano the unofficial captain put in a stellar performance as he rallied the troops during and after the semi-final victory over the Dutch. On face value the Germans look destined to add to their three precious victories but don’t count on it, as the Argentinians may have the last word at Brazil 2014.
Both sides have won the most beautiful iconic footballing trophy twice after its initial introduction in 1974. Brazil had won their third Jules Rimet trophy in Mexico, in 1970, and the hat-trick heroes’ three successful tournaments in a twelve year span meant that Brazil were allowed to keep Jules Rimet after their 4-1 demolition of Italy in that famous of all World Cup finals in the Azteca, in Mexico City. This time around a miniaturised replica will be given to the victor instead of a full outright ownership.
A conundrum I had quietly pondered after Germany’s win at Italia 90; would we have a repeat where another nation won three editions of the new pretender and subsequently kept it? Apparently not. Neither side would say no to the ‘Magna Carta’ of all football trophies being the pride of place in the middle of each respective glass cabinet at either footballing HQ. One iconic piece being replaced by another happened before and it will happen again.
The current trophy’s inception began in the early 70’s after FIFA received numerous requests for its commission from the world’s best sculptors and after much deliberation the task of finding a replacement was eventually assigned to the Stabilimento Artistico Bertoni company based in Italy. The designer was one of their colleagues Silvio Gazzaniga; who also designed the UEFA Cup. When the plans finally saw daylight, boy did he deliver in what can only be described as an exquisitely sculpted metallic beauty of 18-carat gold.
This holy grail of all trophies, a piece that has captured the minds and hearts of millions of budding football fans and players alike since its first introduction which, after all these years, still excites passionate fans the world over. It really is the one trophy that any footballer dreams of lifting, whether it’s the European Cup at club level, or league title, but this one trophy is why every player playing today started out with playing football. This one is the true pinnacle of them all. Come the end of tonight’s match a dream will be fulfilled when the world’s maestros enter the Maracana.
As kick-off approaches, we can only have one winner – yes it’s a cliché but a statement of fact. The Germans will be shouting for ‘Der Mannschaft’ and the Argentinians for ‘Selección.’ Both sets of players after a month’s hard graft or a career chasing this very dream have reached the acid-test of any football competition, the pinnacle of their chosen craft. Like pro cyclists navigating a war of attrition through the cobbled streets of the ‘Paris-Roubaix’ or conquering the dizzying heights of Le Tour’s ‘Alpe d’Huez’- the world’s best will be on show in Sunday’s World Cup final. But from either Lionel Messi or Philip Lahm, one will ultimately fall at the final hurdle and be resigned to the fact of watching the other reign supreme holding aloft this very trophy. A lifelong dream will finally be made tangible once both hands from whatever captain touch what all of those hours of hard graft were used for, culminating in a tactical plan that finally comes to fruition.
For any other outsider, or neutral, and trying to avoid the inevitable cliché again, will all hope that football ultimately wins and leaves a final resigned to the history books as one of the greatest we have ever witnessed.
Liam Cairns, Pundit Arena.