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Frank Augstein | Associated Press
Germany's Mario Goetze, after scoring the opening goal during the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina.

Best team won? Possibly

So here's what you take away from the World Cup, with all of Germany celebrating its first title in 24 years:

* Lionel Messi was the best player in the tournament, if not in the title game.

Everything for Argentina began if not always ended with Messi, who opened up the field for his teammates like no other player in the tournament. The irony here: He blew more than one golden chance in the title game to hand Argentina the Cup. What he gaveth all tournament, he in a sense tooketh away when it counted most.

* Mario Goetze delivered a Cup-winner worthy of the name.

No one wanted to see this World Cup end on some cheap accident of physics or geometry. And Goetze ensured that wouldn't.

His chest-trap-to-rocket-volley in the 113th minute was as pretty a goal as any in a World Cup that had more than its share of pretty goals. A fitting end to a largely stellar tournament.

* A lot of teams could have won this.

Which is why it was, see above, a largely stellar tournament. Germany was clearly the class of the knockout round, but it might not have been the best team in tournament. The Germans were just the best team left standing.

Cases in point: The Germans needed extra time to beat Argentina in the final, but they also tied Ghana and needed extra time to beat the U.S. in pool play. The Dutch had their moments, but needed a shootout to beat Costa Rica in the quarters. Argentina had its hands full against Switzerland and Belgium and needed its own shootout to knock out the Dutch.

Conclusion: This was anybody's tournament, right up until it wasn't.

* Tim Howard was the best keeper in the tournament.

And never mind that he wasn't even a finalist for the Golden Glove award, which was won by Germany's Manuel Neuer. Someone's idea of a joke, surely.

Ben Smith's blog.

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