RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL —
1. Germany the best side on the night and of the tournament
Germany won the World Cup, and it was fitting they did so. With 18 goals scored and only four conceded in their seven matches, they were the best side overall and deserved to lift their fourth title.
I was surprised how open it was to begin with; Germany went for it in much the same vein as they did against Brazil, except they came up against a much more resolute central defensive partnership, with Javier Mascherano protecting them.
Argentina had their own chances to win the game, but Gonzalo Higuain in particular was wasteful and Germany profited from that. Had he held his own run a little in the first half, his offside "goal" would still have been a presentable opportunity, and Germany may have found it difficult to break the South Americans down afterward.
Along with Mascherano, Jerome Boateng and Bastian Schweinsteiger were the best players on the night.
2. Lionel Messi wrong choice as Golden Ball winner
Quite frankly, the decision to hand Lionel Messi the Golden Ball award was a shambles.
If you put together a highlight reel of his World Cup it would look pretty good—10 minutes or so of his dribbling, getting shots away, his goals and assists—but that's not an overall reflection of his tournament.
He was walking around a lot, didn't help his team-mates off the ball and looked at times as though he was carrying an injury. If he was, he shouldn't have played. If he wasn't, comparisons with Diego Maradona need to stop now—Maradona did it all and made a difference. Messi, in the end, didn't.
The award isn't an accurate mark of his achievements at the World Cup and masks the performances of those who deserved it more, including the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez.
3. Central midfield key for Germany
The pre-match loss of Sami Khedira was tough on Germany. He's a complete modern midfielder, able to do everything from the defensive work to getting into the final third. He has power, technique and intelligence, and you suspect he might have made a better job of a big chance for Germany, which Kroos ended up side-footing wide after a pull-back.
Cristoph Kramer took a tough head injury, but such is the ability and versatility of Germany's side that you could put any of their midfielders with the exception of Mesut Ozil in the centre alongside Schweinsteiger and get a similarly good performance.
Philipp Lahm played there earlier in the World Cup, which shows the all-round ability he has. Lahm is a model professional, a world-class orthodox right-back and can certainly play well centrally, but for both club and country his future should remain on the flanks of the defence.
4. Final officiating good enough overall
There were a few moments where the temperature on the pitch seemed to creep up after a few debatable challenges, but overall the final was played in a good spirit and the referee and assistants dealt well with things.
Manuel Neuer clearly fouled Gonzalo Higuain rather than the other way around, Sergio Aguero caught Schweinsteiger and Kramer took a very heavy foul too, quite possibly deliberate, but you don't want players seeing red cards in the final unless it's for serious foul play.
5. Fans embrace entire World Cup
As a whole, the World Cup has been tremendous. The fans have been exceptional throughout the country: I've been at eight of the 12 stadia, and all the way along they have embraced the World Cup spirit, have supported their respective nations and made the atmosphere what it was.
Early on World Cup final day Copacabana beach had reports of around 100,000 Argentinian fans being on the way, and there was a massive police presence—but no trouble at all really, and inside the stadium both sets of supporters were excellent.
The parade in Germany will be tremendous; millions of people will probably be lining the streets, and they completely deserve it for the effort and quality put into the tournament.
Stan Collymore is a former Liverpool, Aston Villa and England striker who has forged a hugely successful second career as a radio and TV broadcaster.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!