Monday, July 14, 2014

Mario Götze’s Gift

I must start with an apology to Mario Götze. In the 88th minute of the 2014 FIFA World Cup final in Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Götze was introduced substituting Miroslav Klose, the record holder for the highest number of World Cup goals. It occurred to me that if Götze scores it would be an ideal tribute to Klose, but I never thought he will. Who could imagine that this baby faced youngster would shatter the dreams of the Albiceleste.
Mario Götze, Pic by Michael Kranewitter

However, throwing my apprehensions out of the window, it was Götze who did score the only goal of the match, in the 113th minute. Thereby he entered football history as the only goal scorer in an epic contest, a World Cup football final in Maracana. For the first time in history, a European side had won a football world cup in Latin America.

At times, life gifts you with golden opportunities which can make you or break you, the latter in the case when you do not make the best out of it. If the youngster had somehow squandered the golden opportunity to score the winner, it would have broken the morale of not only him but his team. There are times when extreme misfortune does not allow one to make the best out of it. But on this occasion, it was not the case.

This was a good reason not to underestimate a youngster under any circumstances. Legends have to be replaced when they are too old for the competitive game. Klose, who is 36, will have to be replaced someday. If the game is to continue, there must be someone else to step in and take that place. Götze could be the man for the job.

This is where Brazil was not so successful while Colombia was. The Selecao could not find a replacement for Neymar as all other strikers were practically ineffective compared to Neymar. It was the same with the captain Thiago Silva in the defense. Without him, there was no effective defense, as the 7-1 shocker against Germany showed.

Colombia was totally different to Brazil in this aspect. It lost the service of Radamal Falcao for the World Cup through injury. Falaco is thought to be one of the best strikers ever to have graced the football arena. With his loss, only a few believed when Colombia expressed confidence of reaching unprecedented heights. The team rallied around James Fernandez, a 23 year old youngster. He stepped into the boots of Falcao, spearheading an entertaining journey as Colombia reached the last eight. In the process, Rodriguez netted six goals, collecting the Golden Boot for the best scorer of the tournament.

For the second successive tournament, the Germans had one of the youngest squads at a FIFA World Cup. Its 2010 squad was one of the youngest at an average age of 25 years and Klose, then at 32, was comparatively an old man. In 2014, the team is a bit older, for the simple reason that a considerable part of the team is composed of those players who appeared in South Africa four years ago. However, the team also included newcomers, including the first German international players born after reunion, André Schürrle and the hero of the final Götze.

With such a young side and an upcoming bunch of quality footballers Germany is bound to create more legends as the likes of Klose would be taking their leave in due course. "Baby faced" youngsters are never to be underestimated, as Mario Götze showed us a few hours ago.

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