World Cup 2014 Final: Top Performers from Germany vs. Argentina

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World Cup 2014 Final: Top Performers from Germany vs. Argentina
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Mario Gotze's stunning extra-time goal in the 2014 World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday was enough to see Germany to victory against Argentina in a tense encounter.

After beating Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals, Joachim Low's side were far better restricted by a dogged Argentine side who had their own chances to win the game.

However, Germany's quality showed through eventually, and they claimed a 1-0 victory to win their fourth World Cup—and first since 1990.

Let's take a look at the top performers from an historic night at the Maracana.  

Manuel Neuer, Germany

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Argentina should have made Neuer work harder in the final—they did not have a single shot on target, per Squawka—but his presence alone was enough to throw the opposition off their game.

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Undoubtedly the best keeper at the competition, his regular forays outside the box cut out numerous threats and allowed the Germans to begin attacks at pace.

Sunday's match saw Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Rodrigo Palacio all put golden opportunities wide of the target, not least because of Neuer's presence in the goal.

He was remarkably strong in clearing the ball—his clash with Higuain a particular highlight—and his confidence was such that he was even prepared to take a throw in as Germany searched for the winner, a first according to Opta:

He was magnificent once again in Rio and was a deserving winner of both the Golden Glove award and the World Cup.   

Jerome Boateng, Germany

Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

The Bayern Munich defender was a rock at the heart of the German back line and shut out just about everything that came his way.

He made a key clearance inside the six-yard box as the first half drew to a close, after terrific work from Messi had put Argentina into a fine attacking position.

As Sky News' Paul Kelso highlights, Boateng snuffing out Argentina's counter-attacks became a regular feature of the final as the game went on:

One of the star performers on the night, without Boateng, Germany would undoubtedly have conceded more chances, one or two of which might just have gone in and changed the course of the game.

Lionel Messi, Argentina

Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

Although not at his absolute best, the Barcelona maestro still managed to create problems for the German defence on several occasions.

He showed sparks of brilliance as he took on the German team and tried to inspire his side to victory by dribbling his way past defenders.

Squawka Dave illustrates Messi's attacking intent. On another day, it could have been his night to shine:

However, his stoppage-time free kick that skied over the bar somewhat summed up Messi's night as his best efforts went unrewarded, but he was still at the centre of everything Argentina did going forward.

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