It's been an amazing World Cup, every bit the action packed thrill-ride that makes me want to follow it for four whole years.
ON: Sergio Romero--The german attacks were far more accurate and dangerous than the guilt edge shanks that bounced off, but Romero saw them all off time and time again. He wasn't the biggest star or the most efficient keeper this tournament but he was the man Argentina needed most--and he delivered.
OFF: Gonzalo Higuain/Ezequiel Lavezzi--We named Lavezzi as our hipster star of the team before the tournament and Higuain has often been featured as a star attraction. They were utterly MIA in attack for Argentina this tournament, leaving Lionel Messi to create all on his lonesome--which he certainly did...but that's more demanding than it ought to be.
ON: Manuel Neuer--The German stopper has certainly solidified his position as the world's preeminent keeper. It's thrilling to watch those who are close to seizing the crown and becoming the next king of the mountain, but neither Romero, nor Navas, nor Ochoa, nor Howard, nor Enyema have been able to show the same skill on the biggest stage of all. Maybe they can. Maybe they will. But until then Neuer is the man.
OFF: Thomas Muller's Acting Skills--Runner-up to James Rodrigez in the Golden Boot, shut out from all the major trophy hand outs. Muller had a good tournament. But he is undoubtedly the new poster child for the ugly art of diving. From the first match to the last, anyone who touched him evoked Wagnerian levels of tragedy, somewhere a stern German or a million is sternly scolding him.
ON: Mario Goetze/Andre Schurrle--Die Mannschaft's substitutes weren't unstoppable by any means. They certainly looked underwhelming for most of the first over time. But when they had the chance they did not spoil it, with Schurrle sparkling on a cross and Goetze's goal a thing of beauty that left even Romero stumped. In the end their combination was the reason Germany won.
OFF: Rodrigo Palacio--While L'Albiceleste's final sub was every bit as underwhelming as Goetze and Schurrle for most of the match, he was worse in three clear ways: botching an easy ball over the top (a chance that neither Goetze nor Schurrle had the opportunity to miss), committing a foolish foul that created the final run, and finally having the ugliest hair of the whole tournament.
It was a superb tournament, tied for the most goals ever, featuring phenomenal individual and team performances. It was every bit the thrill ride we've come to hope for from the World Cup and we can't wait to do it all over again, starting with qualification next winter.