RIO DE JANEIRO -- – Football’s big day resulted in Germany defeating Argentina 1-0 in extra time Sunday.
Lionel Messi missed an early second-half chance Sunday, shooting wide to leave the World Cup final between Argentina and Germany even at 0-0 after 75 minutes.
Messi broke free on the left side and tried to go for the far post but the ball rolled wide of the Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and his net. Messi again shot wide in the 75th. Germany had a chance in the 71st, with the ball bouncing between players in front of goal, but Andre Schuerrle couldn’t get control.
Argentina had the better chances in the first half, and forward Gonzalo Higuain was the most dangerous player.
The Napoli striker missed a great chance to put his team ahead in the 21st minute, shooting wide after an errant-headed backpass. He then had a goal ruled out for offside in the 30th.
Germany was forced to play without Sami Khedira, who pulled out of the starting lineup minutes before kickoff and was replaced by Christoph Kramer.
Kramer, however, was first injured in the 18th minute and then was replaced by Schuerrle in the 32nd with what appeared to be head injury.
Schuerrle, who scored the last two goals against Brazil in the 7-1 semifinal rout as a substitute, then had Germany’s best chance in the 37th, but Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero made the block.
Benedikt Hoewedes had an injury-time header hit the post.
The match at the Maracana Stadium kicked off with Germany wearing its traditional white shirts and Argentina playing in dark blue.
With Messi in the starting lineup, Argentina has one of the best players in history on the field. The four-time world player of the year has had a stellar World Cup so far, and a win on Sunday will give him the one major title he is missing.
For Germany, a team led by Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger is trying to finally win a major trophy after a nearly 20-year wait.
The Germans, whose last major title came at the 1996 European Championship, reached the World Cup final in 2002 and the semifinals in 2006. They also reached the final at Euro 2008 and the semifinals at Euro 2012.
Historically, however, Germany has been a consistent winner. The national team is trying to win its fourth World Cup, but the first for a united country. West Germany won in 1954, 1974 and 1990, while a united Germany lost in the 2002 final to Brazil.
Argentina is a two-time champion, winning titles in 1978 and 1986.
The last World Cup title for each team came against the other. The Argentines, led by Diego Maradona, beat West Germany in Mexico in the 1986 final, while the Germans leveled the series by winning four years later in Italy.
Tens of thousands of fans flocked to the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina on Sunday, joining millions around Brazil and across South America who celebrated the last game of the monthlong football festival.
With Argentina right next door to Brazil, it was no surprise Rio de Janeiro was completely awash in the sky-blue jerseys of that nation’s team, with upward of 70,000 “hermanos” flooding into the seaside city and making themselves at home.
Fans slept out on the golden sands of Copacabana beach under a hot tropical sun, swigging beer and cooking.
Javier Gonzalez traveled 40 hours by car from Buenos Aires to get to Rio in time for the match. He and four friends held out hopes of finding tickets for the final – but only had $230 a piece to spend, far less than what scalped tickets are going for. But he reckoned Brazilians with tickets will soon be desperate to be rid of them.
Gonzalez said if Argentina loses, he’d head home tomorrow.
“But if they win,” he added hopefully, “we might not leave at all.”
Cintia Herrera, a 31-year-old secretary from Buenos Aires, was another of the football pilgrims, having spent 48 hours on a bus to be in Rio for the “once in a lifetime” final.
“The whole bus was full of Argentines singing and acting crazy, except for a few Brazilians who had to put up with us the whole way,” she said. “I felt really sorry for them.”
At Brazil’s temple to football, the Maracana stadium where the match was set to kickoff at 4 p.m. local time, workers arrived seven hours early, with queues trailing around the stadium several hours head of kickoff.
There was a heavy security presence around the stadium and across Rio. More than 25,000 police and soldiers were on guard just for the game, according to officials, the biggest security detail in Brazilian history.
Inside the stadium, world leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose nation will host the 2018 World Cup, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were seen sitting in the stands with FIFA’s President Sepp Blatter, watching some pre-match entertainment.
With Brazil roundly praised for how it’s carried out the Cup, considered by many fans to be among the most exciting in recent decades, authorities were taking no chances of anything ruining their big day.
Around the Maracana, where 74,000 spectators were expected to cram for the final, lines of security forces wearing camouflage uniforms and carrying rifles stood watch. Roads were closed and military helicopters buzzed overhead, with Brazilian authorities still wary that the violent protests that marred last year’s Confederations Cup warm-up event may reappear. A few hours before the match, one anti-World Cup protest had gathered around 200 people in a plaza a few kilometers from the stadium.
Fabiane Chiesa lives about 75 meters from the Maracana, located in Brazil’s working class Tijuca neighborhood. Chiesa’s street was blocked at both ends and she said she basically couldn’t leave her house until 11 p.m., when police lifted the blockade.
“It is a bit inconvenient, and I can’t invite friends over to watch the match,” she said. “They could not get past the soldiers. On the other hand, I’ve never felt safer.”
But Brazil was hoping to blend the serious issue of security with fun for the fans.
Across the road from the lines of military police surrounding the stadium, Argentina supporters danced and sang in a cafe, eagerly awaiting their chance to win the World Cup for the first time since Diego Maradona’s team in 1986.
“Messi will lift it! Messi will lift it!” the Argentines chanted, hoping their star player Lionel Messi will pick up the solid gold trophy at the end.
German fans were filtering in, too, hoping for a fourth World Cup title. There were also supporters wearing Colombia, Mexico, Northern Ireland and Brazil shirts, and many more.
For the host country, the football ended in disappointment with a 7-1 rout at the hands of the Germans in the semifinals, but the tournament – with one game to go – has been hailed as a great success.
“We did OK, yes?” said a Brazilian walking around the outskirts of the Maracana wearing his team’s canary-yellow shirt.