Chris Wondolowski’s shot above the crossbar against Belgium. Mauricio Pinilla’s attempt ringing the goalpost in extra time against Brazil. Michael Arroyo not pulling the trigger late versus the Swiss. There were numerous missed opportunities at this year’s World Cup though none may have been bigger than the squandered chances by Argentina in their narrow 1-0 loss to Germany in the title match.
In the 29th minute, Gonzalo Higuain received the ball in space following a defensive lapse by the German backline but he mishit and his shot rolled woefully wide of the goal. Minutes later, Higuain found the back of the net yet his celebration was cut short as the goal was called back for a clear offsides.
Argentine superstar Lionel Messi also wasted several opportunities in the final match played at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium. In the early minutes of the second half, La Pulga was alone in front of goal with only German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to beat however he dragged a poor shot low and wide. Messi’s teammate, Rodrigo Palacio, was also alone in front of Neuer in extra time but has chip ended harmless to the right of the German netminder.
It took until the 113th minute for the scoreless deadlock to be broken when Mario Götze scored from a sharp angle past Sergio Romero’s net.
Messi, who netted a late game-winner in group play against Iran and assisted Ángel di María’s gamewinner in the second round versus Switzerland, was fouled in injury time of the second extra period. He took it upon himself to try for the equalizer from about thirty years away from goal but his shot sailed high and wide. Two minuets later the final whistle blew and Germany won the World Cup for the fourth time in team history.
Following the match numerous Argentine players such as Messi, who was named as the best player of the World Cup, couldn’t hide their dejection.
“I don’t care about the (Golden Ball) award at this time. We wanted to win the World Cup and share it with the Argentine public,” declared Messi.
“Unfortunately the pain I feel will last the rest of my life,” said Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano.
“We gave all that we could and we’re sorry for ourselves and the fans who came to the stadium as well as the Argentine people,” noted Mascherano.
“We’re very sad not to have won the tournament but I’m very proud of this team. I’m the leader of a great group, a great team,” a forlorn Argentine team coach Alejandro Sabella mentioned.
“Sorry #ARG for not winning the Cup. Thanks to everyone for the MASSIVE support given to us at every match,” noted Martín Demichelis via his twitter account.
Though the Argentine squad came short of capturing the brass ring, tens of thousands of fans gathered at the Obelisk of Buenos Aires to celebrate the team’s efforts in reaching the final. Some supporters took comfort in the fourth-place finish of World Cup host country and bitter rivals Brazil:
“Brazil is a lie. It’s a shame that they allow ten goals in two games while playing at home,” said Sergio Vázquez…
Unfortunately the celebration in several Argentine cities was marred by the arrests of at least sixty people who allegedly committed acts of vandalism.
“Brazil doesn’t know how to play. Argentina performed very well. They weren’t lucky but we have to be proud anyway,” said María Pía Realli, another Argentine fan who was part of the festivities at the Obelisk.
Video Source – TV Publica Argentina via YouTube (Some disturbances occurred as tens of thousands of Argentine fans celebrated at the Obelisk of Buenos Aires on Sunday night).
Online Sources - BBC Sport; SI.com; The Huffington Post; vivelohoy.com; Clarin; El Universal; La Nacion; El Tiempo; Associated Press