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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Four stars: Germany wins the best World Cup in the modern era

Photo: FIFA

Germany won the World Cup today with a score line that did justice to the teams and the tournament they played. Germany was dominant throughout Brazil 2014, including the most humiliating defeat of a football Titan ever recorded. Seven goals against Brazil, the host nation. Argentina were uncharacteristically defensive but had brilliant moments through Lionel Messi.

Argentina put up a fight and, at times, controlled the game and could have won the Cup if the ball had rolled the right direction. Messi was masterful when he was unmarked, a shadow of himself when three defenders were upon him. But he still got them to the final, and for that he deserved the Golden Ball.

Mario Gotze scored and saved us from the randomness and cruelty of penalty kicks. It was the one play where Argentina's defenders were out of position, and the German machine pounced and delivered.

We say goodbye to the best World Cup in generations. We salute the dreamers in Costa Rica, Algeria, Colombia. We will remember the fighters in Chile, Mexico, USA, Greece. We wish redemption for the fallen in Spain, Italy, England, Brazil, Portugal and Ghana.

We loved so many moments in this World Cup. From Robin Van Persie's amazing header, to the wonders of James Rodriguez, to the record-breaking number of saves by Tim Howard. There were more goals in the group stage than any other tournament since the number of competing teams went from 24 to 32. There was penalty kick drama, again, and favorites went home and tears flowed in excitement and despair.

There was a bite to the game, pun intended. From Luis Suarez's indiscretions to Arjen Robben's simulation versus Mexico. There were injuries too, like Altidore's early in the first game against Ghana and Neymar's unfortunate departure in the quarterfinal versus Colombia.

We cheered today perhaps for the game alone, perhaps for our favorite team. We forgot a nation's transgressions of the past, fallacies of the present, uncertainties of their future. But, for two and a half hours today, one billion people sat together in their homes, stood clapping at their watch parties, put down their weapons of war, and enjoyed the beautiful game. 

The World Cup is a time machine. Brazil 2014 is now a World Cup of memories that will forever latch onto our psyche. Be it Brazil's fall from grace or Julian Green's goal. But it also gives us glimpses of the future through the magic of James, the speed of Yedlin, the wonders of Neymar and the vision of Gotze.

Today is also the start of Russia 2018. When each of our teams went home, be it at the end of qualifying or the moment of elimination, plans were set in motion for the next cycle. The World Cup is the engine of the sport that drives the passions of billions.

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