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Henry Liao

2014 FIFA World Cup: Dankeschoen, Germany

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Like any avid sports fan, my sight had been set on the 20th FIFA World Cup, international football’s biggest quadrennial spectacle, for the past four weeks with early morning wake-ups to catch the games on cable television.

The big story regarding Akron, Ohio-born LeBron James’ ditching the Miami Heat, who reached the U.S. National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals in each of The King’s four seasons in South Beach and along the way romped away with a pair of championships (2012 and 2013), and coming home to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers, his original NBA employer for seven seasons from 2003-10, on a four-year, $88-million deal, was relegated to secondary importance as the headline in most sports pages centered on the World Cup competitions.

My first love has always been basketball since I was able to recite the 26 alphabets in 15 seconds as a seven-year-old. However, I was simply too short and lean to challenge the bigs in a sport that most people believe is a tall man’s game.

That’s when I also took up soccer – yes, that was how the sport was called during my heyday, and not football – and made good use of my bundle of energy and speed.

More than half-a-century later, the game of soccer or football remains heavily in my consciousness.

Early morning today was no ordinary day. After all, it was the finals of the 2014 FIFAWorld Cup.

At the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Germany beat Argentina, 1-0, on a goal by Mario Goetze at the 113-minute mark of the second 15-minute extra time to capture this year’s World Cup trophy. The 90-minute regulation time ended in a scoreless draw.

Argentine maestro Lionel Messi had an opportunity to equalize in the final minutes and send the match to a penalty situation. However, Messi’s free kick sailed pass the goal bar and Argentina, a two-time WC titlist (1978 and 1986), was sent crying to its first defeat in seven appearances (6-0-1) in the quadrennial competition.

Germany’s victory marked the first time in eight World Cup tournaments that a non-South American team had emerged triumphant on Americas soil (five in South America, including this year in Brazil) and three in North America).

Germany finished the quadrennial competitions with a 6-1-0 (win-draw-loss) record, the only blemish to an impeccable joyful ride coming from a 2-2 draw with African power Ghana in preliminary-round action.

This year marked the third time that Germany and Argentina clashed in a World Cup gold-medal encounter.

In 1986 in Mexico, Argentina defeated Germany, 3-2, for the crown. Four years later in Italy, the Germans exacted revenge with a 1-0 decision over the South America squad.

Overall, Germany now owns four WC titles – 1954, 1974, 1990 and this year. Four years ago in South Africa, the European powerhouse settled for the bronze medal with a 3-2 win over Uruguay. Spain and the Netherlands grabbed the gold and silver, respectively.

In this year’s bronze-medal match, the Netherland (formerly called Holland) completed Brazil’s disgraceful downfall without injured superstar Neymar with a 3-0 shutout of the host nation.

The next World Cup in 2018 will be hosted by Russia.

Dankeschoen, Germany. Thanks for the WC memories.

Updated 07-14-2014 at 07:57 AM by gameface_one



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