Good evening and welcome. The biggest game in football is less than an hour away.
In a couple of hours, either Germany or Argentina will be crowned the new world champions and we’ll start counting down the days until Russia 2018.
Let’s enjoy it, eh?
Team news: Our friends at FIFA have faxed us over the team-sheets. Here’s how both sides will line up tonight.
GERMANY: Neuer, Howedes, Hummels, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Ozil, Klose, Muller, Lahm (c), Kroos, Boateng.
ARGENTINA: Romero, Garay, Zabaleta, Biglia, Perez, Higuain, Messi (c), Mascherano, Demichelis, Rojo, Lavezzi.
It’s not about one man tonight but no matter who wins, you can be sure that the spotlight will fall on Lionel Messi.
Does he need to win a World Cup to be considered among the best ever? I say no — but there’s no denying that he carries the hopes of a nation tonight.
Here are the scenes outside the Maracanã this evening:
And in Buenos Aires:
Tens of thousands of Argentinians are expected in Rio tonight and after everything Brazilian football has been through this week, it really would be the final insult if their neighbours were to win the World Cup on their turf tonight. A brand new Maracanazo for the 21st century.
Our man in Brazil, Mikey Stafford, has taken his place in the Maracanã press box
Any of the Argentinians not in Rio this evening appear to be in Dublin — and queuing to get into the Trinity Bar on Dame Street. This was snapped by Richie McCormack a couple of minutes ago.
As kick-off gets closer, I’ve forced everyone within earshot to put their reputation on the line. Ben nailed his colours to the mast when he rocked up to work in a classic Argentina jersey earlier but his head says a German win.
- Steve O’Rourke: Germany 0-1 Argentina (AET)
- Ben Blake: Germany 2-1 Argentina
- Niall Kelly: Germany 0-0 Argentina (Messi Panenkas his penalty and Argentina win the shootout)
Leaving the actual football aside for one moment, tonight is also a particularly significant night for Irish sporting TV as legendary RTÉ broadcaster Bill O’Herlihy hangs up his mic after a long and distinguished career.
For one last time, we’ll leave it there so.
LATE CHANGE: We’ve already had our first drama of the night. Sami Khedira has a calf injury and is out of the German side. Christoph Kramer starts in his place.
The teams are in the tunnel and no matter which way you dice it, this is set up to be a classic head to head.
The tournament’s best team versus the world’s best player?
Germany’s attack versus the Argentinian defence?
Germany bidding to become the first European team to win the World Cup in South America versus Argentina hoping to lord their victory over neighbours Brazil?
Argentina win the national anthems anyway, that’s for sure.
KICK OFF: The 2014 World Cup final is underway with Argentina attacking the Maracanã equivalent of the Hill 16 end (ie right to left as you watch on TV).
2 mins – Rojo comes across and nudges Müller in the back and Germany will have the first real chance from this free-kick. About 23 yards out.
Thumped into the wall… and Argentina break straight down the other end where Higuain flashes one across the face of Neuer’s goal.
4 mins – Müller threatens again but Biglia gets his toe in to knock the ball back to Romero. One goal for the German tonight and he will take home the Golden Shoe by virtue of having more assists than James Rodriguez.
Germany are getting plenty of joy down the right in these opening few minutes. Could be a busy night for Rojo.
9 mins – Brilliant surge of pace by Messi to burst past Hummels but his pull-back into the box is knocked away by Schweinsteiger. More of that please!
10 mins – So far, there has been none of the caginess that we saw from Argentina in their semi against Holland. They’re swarming on the counter and creating good chances. Biglia tries his luck from outside the box and it comes off Howedes and behind for a corner, despite the best efforts of sweeper-keeper Neuer.
13 mins – Miroslav Klose already has Ronaldo’s record but that doesn’t mean he’s done yet. He nearly gets on the end of Lahm’s cross but Demichelis is close enough to put him off.
17 mins – Play is stopped for a couple of moments so that Christoph Kramer can receive some attention. He got a pretty nasty blow to the head, courtesy of Garay’s shoulder.
Ouch. Another one to add to the list of bad head injuries.
20 mins — WHAT A MISS! Toni Kroos gifts Germany a golden opportunity with a weak back-header. Higuain is coming back from an offside position and one-on-one, he snatches at the chance and drags it wide from the edge of the box.
A massive let-off for Germany.
28 mins – Schweinsteiger clips the back of Lavezzi’s heels and he’s booked for his troubles.
In other worrying news for Germany, it looks like Kramer will have to come off following that head injury.
GOOOO…NO! We’re on our feet in TheScore.ie HQ as Higuain latches on to a peach of a cross from Lavezzi and sidefoots past Neuer. He wheels away in celebration but there’s a late flag to rule him offside.
The replays show that the assistant got it spot on. Higuain was about a yard off.
SUBSTITUTION: Kramer goes off, and he’s replaced by André Schürrle. He obviously wasn’t right and let the bench know he couldn’t continue.
33 mins – Höwedes is booked for a terrible challenge on Zabaleta. On another day, with another ref, and probably not in the World Cup final, that’s a straight red.
36 mins – Özil ducks at the last possible second and Romero has to react quickly to save Schürrle’s shot. It was offside anyway as Özil was deemed to be interfering with play… which would be unusual for him (BA-DUM-TISH).*
* This is a joke.
40 mins — GREAT CHANCE FOR ARGENTINA! Messi races down the right again and makes a beeline towards goal but his shot is scrambled away by Boateng as it trickles towards the line.
Messi’s face says it all — he can’t believe he hasn’t scored — but if Argentina keep targeting the right, you get the feeling he will before long.
43 mins – Lovely bit of footwork by Özil on the edge of the box but Kroos’s shot is tame, to say the least, and easy for Romero to get down and save.
Here’s the moment when Gonzalo Higuain thought he had scored:
HALF TIME: Germany 0-0 Argentina
Cracking chance to finish the half as Höwedes crashes a header off the post from a corner. It comes back off Müller’s shin but Romero falls on it before it crosses the line. Müller was offside anyway so it wouldn’t have counted.
Still scoreless but this is one of those open, exciting 0-0s. Plenty of chances so far at both ends — Higuain even had the ball in the net.
We’ll be back in a few.
It’s very hard to sum up the entire first half in a photo. This is about as close as we can get though:
SECOND HALF: We’re back. Hard to know quite how this one has stayed scoreless but the entertainment levels haven’t suffered as a result.
SUBSTITUTION: Aguero comes on to replace Lavezzi.
47 mins — MESSI!!! JUST WIDE! Biglia threads a ball through to Messi and it looks for all the world like he’s going to score but it skates past Neuer’s left post. A game of inches.
54 mins – Schürrle goes down on the edge of the box and looks about incredulously when his appeal for a free-kick is waved away. It is a German corner though, but it comes to nothing.
57 mins – File under ridiculous. Manuel Neuer comes out to challenge Higuain for a bouncing ball and takes man, ball and everything in between. The referee gives a free out. Nothing makes sense any more.
If you’ve been watching on TV, you will have seen this stunning shot of the sun setting over Rio — and on the Brazilian World Cup — a few minutes ago.
Cristo says howaya!
62 mins – Schürrle squares for Özil but it takes him by surprise and bobbles off his calf and behind for a goal kick.
64 mins – Mistake by Mascherano. He gives the ball to Klose and then dives in to bring him down, earning a yellow card for his troubles.
65 mins – Aguero booked as well now. It’s getting feisty.
70 mins – Twenty minutes to play in Rio. Snifter of a chance for Schürrle but it skips away from him at the last minute and Romero is able to cut it out.
74 mins – After an entertaining first half, the game has fallen a little bit flat in the last 15 minutes. Messi tries to pull the strings with some magic but after linking with Zabaleta on the edge of the box, he curls his shot wide. Oh well.
Tonight’s attendance is 74,738. Rihanna’s there. So is LeBron. And 74,736 others.
SUBSTITUTION: The man with the best haircut in the World Cup, Rodrigo Palacio, comes on to replace Higuain. We’ll just leave this here.
You’d be inclined to agree if Argentina win and Messi doesn’t score the winner.
thetruth: Javier Mascherano is the player of the tournament, hands down. He has been utterly superb every game
81 mins — KROOS BUT NO CIGAR! Özil pulls the ball back to Toni K on the edge of the box and a nation holds its breath… but he sidefoots wide. That’s a great chance in each half now that he has passed up.
EXTRA TIME WATCH: Five minutes of normal time to play…
ARGENTINA SUBSTITUTION: Gago on to replace Perez. Sabella’s done his bit — all three of his subs are made.
GERMANY SUBSTITUTION: Super ovation for Miroslav Klose as he leaves to be replaced by Mario Götze. Cheers, bud — it has been a pleasure to watch you.
There will be three additional minutes. Will we have a late hero?
90+1 mins – Götze sees his name in lights but his shot from 25 yards is tame. Tame. Tame.
90+2 mins – Argentina can’t keep possession. Every time they hack it clear, Germany swarm back. Eventually, Zabaleta gets rid.
FULL TIME: Germany 0-0 Argentina
The final of the “Extra Time World Cup” goes to extra time. Fitting, really.
We’ve been on the phone to our bookie friends. Germany are 4/5 to lift the World Cup; Argentina are evens. Where’s your money going?
EXTRA TIME: We’re back, baby.
32 seconds into extra time – Oh me oh my. Romero has to look likely in the first minute to deny Schürrle. It was straight at the Argentinian keeper but still a great chance.
Germany have been very much on top for the last while. Argentina look tired. And nervous.
92 mins – Aguero plays the ball across the face of goal but there’s nobody there to get on the end of it.
97 mins — GREAT ARGENTINA CHANCE! Palacio has a brilliant chance to give Argentina the lead. He takes Rojo’s cross on his chest but is forced to lift his shot over Neuer who steams out to close him down. He gets it up and down alright, but it’s just wide.
103 mins – Aguero tries to find Messi — as you would, obviously — but the German defence crowds him out. Messi looks wrecked at this stage but you know he’s got at least one moment of magic left in those tired legs, right?
HALF TIME EXTRA TIME: So far, so inseparable. Do Argentina really want to try their luck against the Germans on penos?
If it does go to penalties, would you bet against Manuel Neuer taking one for the Germans? Before we start again, read this quickly by Ben Lyttleton.
SECOND HALF ET: Here we go again. Fifteen minutes to decide the champions of the world.
17 mins – Biglia and Mascherano both slide in on Schweinsteiger, presumably in an attempt to con the ref into booking neither of them. Mascher has been on his last warning for a while.
110 mins – Aguero becomes the latest man to be lucky to escape a second yellow card. Schweinsteiger needs a little bit of treatment to stop a cut under his eye.
GOAL! Germany 1-0 Argentina (Götze , 113′)
Germany lead. Germany lead. Germany lead.
And what a goal it is! Mario Götze is Germany’s super sub and he’s scored a goal worthy of winning a World Cup final.
He takes the ball from Schürrle in his stride, on his chest, and volleys past Romero.
Three minutes to play. Is this how it ends?
119 mins – Müller twists and turns into the Argentinian box but there’s nobody up in support.
Mertesacker comes on for Özil as the final minute ticks away.
Germany have one hand on the trophy.
120+1 mins – Schweinsteiger fouls Messi. Argentina will have one final free, one last roll of the dice…
120+2 mins – Messi sends it high and over the bar. Surely that’s it?
GERMANY ARE THE 2014 WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS!
FULL TIME: GERMANY 1-0 ARGENTINA (AET)
Germany make history as the first European country to win a World Cup in South America. Mario Götze, this is your moment.
Lionel Messi — surrounded by 75,000 people in the loneliest place in the world.
So that’s it for our liveblog as Germany get their party started. Thanks for reading and for your comments, not just tonight but over the last four and a half weeks. It has been a lot of fun.
Mario Götze made the world his own and, in the words of a man who takes his final bow tonight, we’ll leave it there so.