Minute 83: Alexis Sanchez cuts inside from the left flank and flicks the ball inside the 30 yard box. Chilean striker Edson Puch darts in and snatches the ball of the German goalkeeper, Ter Stegen’s claws, takes a clever little turn and passes the ball to young Anyelo Sagal. All the young striker had to do was pass the ball into the back of the net. He went for power instead of precision and blasted the ball miles above the goal. Nerves or inexperience, perhaps, but the entire scenario summed up Chile’s night comprehensively. They were just not destined for this.
Minute 18: Earlier in the match, Chilean midfield veteran Arturo Vidal struck a neat, powerful shot from outside the box which Ter Stegen dealt with unconvincingly. It was a half stop, as the rebound fell in path of Alexis Sanchez. It could not have come easier than that for the Chilean. He would have scored that 9 times out of 10, or on any given day, this would have been a routine goal. However; the 1 out of 10 came just when it was least expected – or rather wanted. Sanchez made complete mess of what could have been a goal. Chile would have been 1-0 up and the result would have been different.
Minute 20: Chile was the dominant of the two sides up until the 20th minute. The South Americans were creating multiple opportunities, only to waste them all. They were unable to capitalise. Playing defensive in their own half, defender Marcelo Diaz receives a back pass. Instead of passing it further, Diaz tries to do too much with it and ends up making a tournament defining mess. With two German players lurking behind him, he tries to get away from Lars Stindl, but was not aware of the Timo Werner. Werner wins the ball, crosses it to Stindl who puts it in the back of the net. Germany leads 1-0. Stindl would never have an easier goal than that.
The unfortunate goal proved too much to digest for Chile as their fluent and intense football transformed into a more defensive, mostly panicking approach. It looked as if they had forgotten football altogether after Germany scored. They were clumsy, panicked, and inconsistent. They were making mistakes, committing fouls and uncalled for errors. Germany was more dominant, confident and consistent after the goal. Prior to the goal, Germany was the struggling side. After the goal, it was Chile deep into hot waters. Football is all about nerves.
Chile had another dominant spell during last 15 minutes of the match, but they had to go for it. It was either do or die for them, but they could not capitalise, again.
Referee blows his final whistle. Contrasting emotions spread throughout the stadium, with Germans dancing in sheer joy and Chileans wiping tears of their faces. Youth had overcome experience.
Prior to the start of the tournament, German coach Joachim Low was heavily criticised for opting in favour of youth instead of experience. Germany’s squad in this year’s Confederations included only a handful of players that were part of the World Cup winning team in 2014. There was no Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, or even the goal scorer in Maracana, Mario Gotze. But they did not need any experience whatsoever. The young Germans were more enthusiastic and hungrier than the experienced members would have ever been. They would not tire and nothing would break their desire to lift the Cup.
The standout players in German squad were below 25, as were most of their players. Their captain Julian Draxler was awarded player of the tournament award, with Leon Goretzka and Timo Werner leading the goal-scoring charts.
The young German team had loopholes in their defensive game coming into the final. Given Chile’s attacking credentials, these loopholes would seem magnified but they showed exceptional resilience to wither off the early storm, score the opening goal and defend the lead with remarkable consistency and professionalism. Germany thrashed Mexico 4-1 in the semi-final, but they were fortunate enough to not concede more, as Mexico too were wasteful.
On the contrary, Germany’s midfield and attacking line-up, without a shadow of doubt, is the best one in the tournament. Each and every one of them was consistent going forward and remarkable at finishing their designated jobs.
There is, however; a lot of learn from this tournament. If teams were ranked based on quantity and quality of talent available, Germany would lead every single time. But with abundance of talented footballers available, Joachim Low’s job must be the hardest in the world, and with the World Cup 2018 just around the corner, it remains to be seen who the German coach leaves out of the 23-man squad.