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MATCHES
 
 
The memory of Manuel Neuer´s knee to Gonzalo Higuaín´s face and Rodrigo Palacio´s missed chance in the 98th minute work more like a dagger to the hearts of over 40 million Argentines and millions more abroad.
Argentina Grades: Messi, Agüero left wanting more 
07/13/2014
 
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 13: Bastian Schweinsteiger of Germany consoles Lionel Messi of Arge...

It wasn´t meant to be for Argentina, not when it faced a superior team and left it all on the pitch only to be left with a river of tears shed by both its players and their fans after the match.


Not when the memory of Manuel Neuer´s knee to Gonzalo Higuaín´s face and Rodrigo Palacio´s missed chance in the 98th minute work more like a dagger to the hearts of over 40 million Argentines and millions more abroad.


Germany was a deserving champion, the best team of the World Cup getting the prize it worked so hard for. However, for Argentina there will be a lingering thought of ¨what if?¨ until 2018, because it almost played the perfect match their manager Alejandro Sabella envisioned, but one miscue in the 113th minute did them in and Mario Götze was merciless.


After all, how do you explain what happened when, like Messi himself said ¨All I wanted to do was raise (the Cup)¨. You can't, you just feel pride for what was achieved and look forward to the future.

On to the grades. As always, from a scale of 1 to 10.

Sergio Romero: 7. 

Had a couple of key saves and had nothing to do during the goal. Stellar World Cup overall by the Argentine goalkeeper, who saw a streak of three clean sheets and 486 minutes without receiving a goal.

Pablo Zabaleta: 7. 

Had an important sliding save in the first half and was one of the high points of the Albiceleste´s defense.


Martín Demichelis: 6. 

Stellar until the 113th minute, when he lost track of Götze in the defining play of the match.


Ezequiel Garay: 6. 

Another player with a stellar World Cup who contained the dangerous Miroslav Klose and most of the German advances.


Marcos Rojo: 5,5. 

Got lost in the shuffle a little bit, but didn't disappoint overall.

Javier Mascherano: 6. 

Grew increasingly frustrated as the match went on, resorting to fouling instead of recovering the ball cleanly a little bit too much, especially in overtime when he was running on empty.


Lucas Biglia: 5. 

Tried to keep up and did a good job of doing so. Sometimes seemed to be over his head, but did a fine job all things considered.


Ezequiel Lavezzi: 6. 

Was replaced at halftime by Sergio Agüero but ran his heart out and left every drop of sweat on the pitch. Played much better than Agüero did during his 45 minutes of action.


Enzo Pérez: 5. 

Fought hard to be up to the challenge and did so adequately before being replaced by Fernando Gago in the 86th minute, clearly spent.

Gonzalo Higuaín: 7. 

Almost scored the go-ahead goal, was offside by this much. Just like against Belgium, ¨Pipita¨ was Argentina´s most dangerous man on offense before being replaced by Rodrigo Palacio in the 75th minute.


Lionel Messi: 5. 

Had a couple of clear chances, but perhaps his free kick that went high summed up the night best for him: Lots of effort, but not enough in a losing battle against the Germany defense. Could not make Höwedes pay when he went one-on-one against the bigger, slower defender.

Sergio Agüero: 3. 

75 minutes of nothingness for a player that, just like against the Netherlands, proved once again that he wasn't at 100%.


Rodrigo Palacio: 4. 

Just like against the Netherlands, he had his big chance, and just like back then, he wasted it with an effort that left a lot to be desired. That 98th minute chance will haunt him and Argentina for a long, long time.


Fernando Gago: 4.

Meh. Another player who didn't live up to his potential in the World Cup.


Nicola Rizzoili (referee): 2. 

How exactly is a knee to the head of your opponent a foul against you? Curious judgment for a referee that should also have ejected Höwedes in the first half for his foul to Zabaleta and Agüero in OT for his punch to Schweinsteiger. 

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