Germany have claimed their fourth World Cup title after winning Brazil 2014, beating Argentina 1-0 in the final after extra time.
Though the national side rode their luck at times—Argentina missed a handful of clear chances on goal and had one disallowed for offside—the Germans were the better team overall, throughout the latter stages of the tournament and on the night, with a selection of players putting in excellent performances in the final itself.
Top of the entire pile was central midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was near-faultless in his 120 minutes on the pitch, running the game for his side and helping control Argentina's attackers and provide a supply-line for his own.
In adding the World Cup trophy to his considerable list of honours, and in producing one of the performances of the tournament in doing so, Schweinsteiger writes his name into the annuls of football as one of the best all-round midfielders to ever feature.
Potential Problem Position
The centre of midfield might not seem as though it should be a particular area of concern for Germany, but for the final it could easily have been.
Sami Khedira injured himself in the warm-up and had to be pulled out of the starting XI, with more experienced options such as Lars Bender also missing through injury before the World Cup even began.
Philipp Lahm started the tournament in the central role too, so it was very much a changed zone of the pitch for Joachim Low. Even the replacement, Christoph Kramer, came in and got injured within half an hour of the start.
It was Schweinsteiger who held the centre of the park together, regardless of his partner on the night at various stages, and ensured the midfield remained as effective and dominant as ever.
Schweinsteiger, too, was incredible tonight. Stepped up in the middle of a midfield crisis. All-action. Box-to-box. Back to his best. #GER— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) July 13, 2014
Impressive, Impervious, Imperious
Whether in a defensive capacity or in build-up phases of play, Schweinsteiger was impeccable in his approach.
He won numerous challenges during the game, not only breaking up Argentina's moves through the centre but preventing dangerous counter-attacks coming to fruition before Lionel Messi or the other forwards could even get involved.
Schweinsteiger's aggressive pressing, relentless off-the-ball work and ferocity in protecting his back-line ensured there were few opportunities for Argentina to progress directly through the centre of the park.
Going the other way, his passing was accurate and he consistently looked to link play with the attacking midfielders, even making his own sporadic bursts forward to up the tempo and try to create overload situations when possible.
Bloodied, bruised and battered all over the pitch at times, Schweinsteiger produced a performance which mixed his natural talents of the game with a warrior-like spirit which endured through several overly rough challenges on him.
Winner of All
Not even yet 30 years old, Bastian Schweinsteiger has already won more than a century of caps for one of the strongest nations around and has now secured the World Cup itself.
Add that to his seven league titles, numerous domestic cup trophies and a Champions League winners' medal and his haul stacks up impressively against many of the best players to have played the sport. A fiercely committed winner, tactically astute and with the physical capacity to dictate games all day long, he is a manager's dream and provides a perfect balance for a whole host of team-mates.
The World Cup, and especially the final, is often said to separate the majestic and the great from the true echelons of world class.
After a performance to rank alongside any which came before him in such a spectacular setting, Schweinsteiger can now be comfortably held in the same esteem as midfield legends from his own nation—such as Lothar Matthaus or Franz Beckenbauer—or even beyond, on the global stage.
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