Brazil's World Cup party goes out with a bang

19:41, Jul 14 2014
World CUp final fans
A fan holds up a replica trophy.
World Cup fans
Argentinian and German fans party together in the stands.
Football World CUp fans
Argentinian fans chest can't get enough.
Football fans
Argentinians of all ages get into the fun.
Football fans
Ann-Kathrin Brommel, girlfriend of Mario Gotze of Germany, looks on.
Football fans
Lena Gercke, girlfriend of Sami Khedira of Germany, supports her man.
Football fans
Don't mention the moustache.
Football fans
Model Gisele Bundchen *hearts* football.
Football fans
Germany all the way.
Football fans
German fans wear their colours.
Beckhams
David Beckham and his boys Brooklyn Beckham, left, Cruz Beckham, second right, and Romeo Beckham.
Football fans
Mr World Cup, Pele, former Brazilian international Kaka and David Beckham.
World Cup final
An Argentina fan looks on nervously at the Maracana stadium.
World Cup final
Tens of thousands of people have gathered near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to watch the final on a big screen.
World Cup final
There was only one team they wanted to win.
World Cup final
Rocking football fan Mick Jagger was at the Maracana.
World Cup final
The Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro was host to the World Cup final with over 70,000 in attendance.
Argentina fans
Football fans gathered in Buenos Aires to watch the World Cup final react after Argentina lose to Germany.
World Cup final
Germany fans party at the Maracana after their team won the World Cup.

For 32 days, it was the best party on the planet.

It was wild, wondrous and utterly unpredictable, with a cast of characters and narratives to surpass the best hooley you've ever gone to.

But like any party, the World Cup in Brazil had to end sometime - and that sometime was this morning at Rio de Janeiro's Estadio do Maracana.

Miroslav Klose and Martin Demichelis
Martin Demichelis heads the ball away from Germany's Miroslav Klose.
Miroslav Klose and Martin Demichelis
Argentina's Lionel Messi and Germany's Mats Hummels jump for the ball.
Hansi Flick and Joachim Loew
Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick and coach Joachim Loew look on nervously in the first half.
Hansi Flick and Joachim Loew
Argentina's Marcos Rojo and Germany's Thomas Muelle fight for the ball.
World Cup final
Gonzalo Higuain's strike on goal that went in was disallowed when the referee's offside flag went up.
World Cup final
Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero leaps for the ball.
World Cup final
Chaos in the goal-mouth as Argentina attackers desperately look for their first goal.
World Cup final
Germany defender Benedikt Hoewedes's header right on the halftime whistle hit the woodwork.
Benedikt Hoewedes
And there it is... off the woodwork.
World Cup final
Germany goalkeeper beaten, but Argentina still unable to find a way through opponent's desperate defence in the first half.
Lionel Messi
Argentina's Lionel Messi lines up a kick.
World Cup final
Bodies were flying everywhere as the final gathered intensity late in the second half.
World Cup final
Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer collides with Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain as he punches the ball clear.
World Cup final
The Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro was host to the World Cup final with over 70,000 in attendance.
World Cup final
Germany's Andre Schuerrle and Argentina's Pablo Zabaleta fall on the pitch while fighting for the ball.
World Cup final
Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger urges his team on.
World Cup final
It was neck-and-neck at 0-0 when Germany's Miroslav Klose jumped for the ball with Argentina's Sergio Aguero.
World Cup final
Argentina's Sergio Aguero and Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger both have their eyes on the ball.
World Cup final
Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger reacts as he falls on the pitch past Argentina's Javier Mascherano and Lionel Messi during extra time.
World Cup final
Lionel Messi's accidental impersonation of Rio's Cristo Redentor failed to curry favour with the referee.
Bastian Schweinsteiger
Bastian Schweinsteiger reacts after drawing blood in extra time.
Mario Goetze
Mario Goetze's World Cup winning strike.
Mario Goetze
Mario Goetze celebrates with teammates scoring late in extra time.
Football World Cup final
Mario Goetze of Germany scores the winning goal past Argentina's keeper, Sergio Romero.
Football World Cup final
German goal-scorer Mario Goetze, left, celebrates with teammate Jerome Boateng.
Football World Cup final
Mario Goetze's winning goal.
Football World Cup final
Mario Goetze, right, celebrates his winning goal with teammates.
World Cup final
It's a man-mountain of man-love as Germany players pile on in celebration.
World Cup final
World Cup winner Mario Goetze celebrates with his girlfriend Ann-Kathrin Brommel.
World Cup final
Germany players celebrate winning the World Cup.
World Cup final
Germany: 2014 football World Cup champions.
Mario Goetze
World Cup match-winner Mario Goetze celebrates.
Bastian Schweinsteiger
A World Cup winning moment for Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Bastian Schweinsteiger
Germany fans at Maracana Stadium go crazy as their team lifts the trophy.
Bastian Schweinsteiger
Not to be out done by his players, Germany coach Joachim Loew holds the trophy aloft.
Manuel Neuer
Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer leads a podium celebration.
Manuel Neuer
Germany players lead a cheer with fans at the Maracana after winning the World Cup.
Lionel Messi
Germany's Manuel Neuer and Argentina's Lionel Messi accept their respective goalkeeper and player of the tournament World Cup awards after the final.

It went out with a bang too; with an utterly absorbing final between the world's best overall team - Germany - and the team with the world's best player, Lionel Messi.

It might not have had many goals, but it had everything. Blows, and counterblows, momentum shifts, moments of suspense and brutality, and missed chances that will haunt players for their lifetimes.

Without A Selecao (the Brazilian team) in the final, the buildup to the game at Brazil's biggest sporting cathedral took on a strange edge around Rio.

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In Copacabana and Ipanema, the beaches and streets were crammed full of Argentinians, who had travelled in their tens of thousands from across the border to be in Rio for the final.

This was their first chance since 1990 - ironically the last time Germany won the World Cup - to take the stage in football's Big Dance. Plenty of people wanted the chance to say: "I was there in Rio when we did it."

Of course, there were plenty of Germans, too - and an army of fans from every corner of the globe wanting to plug themselves into the tense, joyful energy only a Would Cup final can give off.

The locals found themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.

The shadows of those seven infamous German goals in Belo Horizonte stretched to their third place playoff game the night before, where they were played off the park by the Netherlands.

At the Copacabana bar where I watched the game, Brazilians ironically cheered the Dutch goals on. Their team's fall from grace had now become a cartoonish act.

"Mais um!, [Another!]," they laughed.

"Mais um!"

Now Germany was all that stood between Argentina and Brazil's worst nightmare.

Worst nightmare?

Definitely. If the Argies won a World Cup final on Brazilian soil, they would never, ever let their neighbours hear the end of it.

Imagine the Wallabies lifting the William Webb Ellis Cup at Eden Park after the All Blacks had been knocked out in the semis. Yep, that bad.

However, while the yellow jersey of Brazil wasn't on the pitch at the Maracana, in plenty of respects it was as metaphorically Brazilian as a final could get.

There was the flamboyance and flair on the paddock, with dash and bravado from both combatants.

And there were flaws; a media tribune without internet for the world's journalists to file from, a streaker who made it onto the pitch despite the two rings of security around it and a host of missed opportunities to score for both teams.

Gonzalo Higuain's appalling 20th-minute missed shot on goal was an opportunity 90 per cent of professional strikers should bury - while Rodrigo Palacio's mistimed second-half chip off Manuel Neuer should have been fired home.

Neuer provided a moment of brutality in the second half when he collided with Higuain on the edge of the box; a moment that, on another day, could have provided the South Americans with a penalty.

It was Argentina who looked the better team for the majority of the match.

Their backline handled the ever-creative Germans well, with left back Marcos Rojo effectively marking the sublime Thomas Muller out of the game.

But the Germans showed poise and calmness, as they always do, and found a way through, when Mario Goetze coolly slotted past Sergio Romero with just seven minutes left in extra time to go 1-0 up.

The Maracana's 74,738 fans looked to Messi. What can you do, kid? Can you bring your lads home?

He couldn't and in 15 minutes, he would be standing at halfway glumly starring at his boots while the jubilant Germans did their victory lap - and Pharrell Williams' pop anthem, Happy, rang out.

As they were the winners, World Cup 2014 will ultimately be remembered as Germany's tournament.

But there were many others who can claim ownership of this tournament, in different ways.

How about plucky Costa Rica, who were knocked out only on penalties to the Netherlands?

How about Colombia's James Rodriguez, and that stunning left-footed volley against Uruguay? How about the goalkeepers of the tournament - especially Neuer, USA's Tim Howard, Costa Rica's Keylor Navas and Mexico's Guillermo Ochoa?

Luis Suarez - that bastard - and the teeth marks he left in Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder? Brazil's Neymar; whose absence from his team seemed to take on a life of its own at the Cup?

For me, my tournament favourites came from people who, mostly, never set foot in the stadiums; they were the people of Brazil.

They were generous and welcoming. They supported their team with a passion, and pride, I've never seen before.

They roared in the Florianopolis bar when Neymar scored that opener against Croatia. They wept openly in Sao Paulo when A Vergonha de Belo (the shame of Belo), referring to their semifinal defeat to Germany, unfolded.

They gave the world the best damn party it could - and it was a ripper. Like any party, it had to end.

They'll be hangovers tomorrow - but great memories too.

Obrigado, Brasil. Ele foi o melhor. (Thank you, Brazil. It was the best.)

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