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Argentina’s last World Cup final in 2014: Messi dream crushed by Germany and Gotze extra-time goal

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Argentina and Lionel Messi will seek to bury the memory of their 2014 World Cup final defeat to Germany when they face France in the closing game of Qatar 2022.

The story of how Argentina lost the Maracana showpiece eight years ago is a painful one for the Albiceleste and their supporters, and particularly for Messi, who has (so far) never come closer to guiding his country to a first World Cup win since 1986.

As Messi prepares to set the record straight against France at Lusail Stadium, The Sporting News takes a look back at Argentina’s most recent involvement in football’s biggest game.

Who won the 2014 World Cup final?

The build-up to the 2014 World Cup final focused on Lionel Messi’s plight, as he sought to cement his status as one of the all-time great players by following in the footsteps of Diego Maradona and winning a World Cup for Argentina.

But Messi’s outstanding group-stage form had deserted him in the knockouts, and both he and fellow forward Gonzalo Higuain missed key opportunities as Argentina fell to a 1-0 defeat after extra time in the final against Germany.

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Gonzalo Higuain miss in 2014 World Cup final

Former Real Madrid, Napoli and Juventus striker Higuain suffered one of the low points of his career after just 20 minutes of the 2014 World Cup final, when he had a golden opportunity to put Argentina in front.

Germany’s Toni Kroos headed the ball calamitously in behind his own backline and Higuain latched onto it, advancing on the German penalty area with only goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to beat.

It looked as though he had time to take a touch and place his shot, but Higuain instead snatched at his attempt and sent the ball rolling harmlessly wide from the edge of the box.

Higuain put the ball in the net 10 minutes later but the goal was correctly ruled out because the then-Napoli marksman had strayed into an offside position in the build up.

As the game progressed and Argentina’s chances waned before Mario Gotze’s eventual winner for Germany in extra time, Higuain was left to rue perhaps the worst 45 minutes of his superb career.

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How Lionel Messi played in 2014 World Cup final

The first 45 minutes of the 2014 World Cup final presented Messi and Argentina with ample opportunity to stamp their authority on the game.

While Germany dominated possession, Joachim Low’s men made several errors and Messi was able to expose weaknesses in their defence.

Messi got the better of Mats Hummels inside the opening 10 minutes of the game and had a pass to Ezequiel Lavezzi cut out by Bastian Schweinsteiger as Argentina threatened.

Higuain’s disallowed goal also came from a move that began with a smart piece of control that took Messi away from Jerome Boateng and allowed him to play Lavezzi in down the right flank.

Messi’s best attempt on goal in the first half was blocked by Schweinsteiger, but after the interval he found himself clean through on the German goal before firing narrowly wide with his angled shot.

From that point onwards, Argentina’s momentum seemed to ebb away, until Gotze’s extra-time strike broke their hearts, and when Messi was presented with a chance to level with a late free-kick, he ballooned his shot high over the crossbar.

What Lionel Messi said about 2014 World Cup final

Messi expressed a mixture of emotions in the aftermath of his first World Cup final, taking some of the responsibility for Argentina’s defeat on his own shoulders.

Then 27, Messi was awarded the Golden Ball as the player of the tournament, emerging from the 2014 World Cup with four goals, one assist and the most chances created of any player at the tournament.

Having helped his nation to the semifinals and beyond for the first time since 1990, Messi told reporters: “We haven’t been in the semifinals for many years and the fact that we played the final and the way we played it is something to be proud of.

“But we deserved more and that’s why we’re sad. The strikers missed the chances we had.

“It’s a bad feeling for all of us because we couldn’t win the cup and take it to our people.”

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