Throwback Thursday: The day Mario Gotze became a Germany legend


On the 13th of July 2014, Germany and Argentina faced off in the 2014 World Cup final. This would be Argentina’s first World Cup final since they lost to West Germany in Rome in 1990. 


This Throwback Thursday, we look at the build up to the showdown and the final itself, which topped off a spectacular World Cup, and the first to be held in South America in 36 years. 


Germany tore tournament hosts Brazil to shreds in the semi-final, in what was one of the most eye-opening results of the modern game on the global stage, and it meant they'd face another South American giant, Argentina, in the final. 


Germany and Argentina had met at the previous two World Cups in 2006 and 2010, which saw Die Mannschaft win on both occasions. Having battered Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final, many expected the Germans to lift their fourth World Cup title, despite facing a defensively solid Argentina side that hadn’t conceded a single goal in the knockout stages, excluding penalty shoot-outs. 


This would be the first time Lionel Messi featured in a World Cup final with his nation, as he looked to get his hands on the famous trophy. 


Understandably, the first half started off in a nervy fashion, with just the one shot on target throughout the opening 45 minutes. Christoph Kramer, who earned his first cap shortly before the tournament began, went off injured to be replaced by Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle, fresh from scoring a brace against Brazil. 


Gonzalo Higuain, who had the lowest WhoScored rating of any player that started the final with a rating of 5.67, missed a golden one-on-one chance against Manuel Neuer in the first half following a Germany mistake, in what was a huge let of for Jogi Loew's men. 


It was a half to forget for the Real Madrid forward as Higuain found the back of the net, only to it be given as offside. As the second half wore on, Sergio Aguero was brought into the fray, and Higuain, the villain of the first half, was replaced with Rodrigo Palacio as they searched for a goal. 


In truth, only one substitution in the game really mattered, as it was the man who went on to become the hero for his country. 


In the 88th minute, Miroslav Klose’s game was up. He had played his final World Cup game for Germany after becoming the highest goalscorer in World Cup finals history with 16 goals. He only scored 2 goals in 2014, but his legacy will live on for years to come... at least until Kylian Mbappe breaks that record, needing just five more goals to do so. 


Replacing Klose was someone who didn’t have any such legacy as 22-year-old Mario Gotze entered the fray. Gotze had finished his first season with Bayern Munich after joining from Borussia Dortmund, becoming the most expensive German player of all time in the process. His WhoScored rating of 7.72 was his third best in a Bundesliga season. 


Unbeknownst to him at the time, he would become a German football legend. With the clock running down, he chested a cross from Schurrle and then proceeded to rifle past Sergio Romero in the 113th minute, breaking Argentine hearts. 


Throwback Thursday: The day Mario Gotze became a Germany legend


Mario Gotze had become the first substitute to score a World Cup winning goal, and the youngest player to score in a World Cup Final since fellow German Wolfgang Weber in 1966, by scoring in Rio on this day nine years ago. 


Despite Gotze picking up the official FIFA man of the match award, it was his former Dortmund teammate Mats Hummels who secured the WhoScored accolade with a WhoScored rating of 8.26 for his contribution. Hummels returned a 94.4% pass success rate, and managed six tackles, including one last-man tackle, to land the award. 


It was a historic moment when retiring captain Phillip Lahm lifted the famous trophy, joining the likes of Fritz Walter, Franz Beckenbauer and Lothar Matthaus to win the World Cup as captain of the German national team. 


While Argentina suffered defeat on this occasion, interestingly enough, the fortunes of the two nations have gone in oppositie directions since that final, with Messi and co. avenging the team of 2014 by winning the 2022 World Cup. More surprisingly, Germany have failed to participate in a World Cup knockout stage match since the 2014 World Cup final, exiting in the group stage in both 2018 and 2022. 


The same could also be said for Gotze’s fall from grace in the years onwards, but on this day nine years ago, he was the right man at the right moment, and his winning goal will never be forgotten by Germany football fans.

Throwback Thursday: The day Mario Gotze became a Germany legend