• World Cup

Goetze proved he's better than Messi - Loew

ESPN staff
July 14, 2014
Munich celebrates into the night

Joachim Loew says Mario Goetze proved he is better than Lionel Messi after coming off the bench to score Germany's extra-time winner against Argentina in the World Cup final.

The match was billed as Messi's chance to stake his claim to being the greatest ever player by winning the tournament and thus emulating fellow Argentine Diego Maradona and Brazil's Pele.

Messi: Golden Ball means very little

Lionel Messi was named the best outfield player at the World Cup and Manuel Neuer the top goalkeeper © Getty Images
  • Lionel Messi will never be more unhappy to win a major award.
  • FIFA gave Messi the Golden Ball as the World Cup's top player, though he would much rather have been holding the golden team trophy.
  • Argentina lost the final 1-0 to Germany on Sunday, leaving Messi to sheepishly accept his individual prize.
  • "The Golden Ball means very little to me at this moment. It is great pain," Messi said. "We played something important, the country was watching and we wanted to give them this happiness. For them and for us.
  • "For me personally, I lived moments of great sadness with the national team and this was the chance to change that. It is a pity not to go home with the Cup, but we go home with our heads high. We can return calm from this World Cup."

However, four-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi left in the shadows as Goetze struck with a stunning finish seven minutes from time to earn a 1-0 win, ensuring that a fourth golden star to signify their latest World Cup success would be sewn into the Germany shirts when they next play an international match.

"I told Goetze to show the world that you are better than Messi and that you can decide the World Cup. I had a good feeling with him," Loew said.

"He did that. Goetze is a miracle boy. He can play any position and has superior technical qualities. I know he is able to decide a match and he scored a great decider today.

"From the beginning, we knew that we would not have only 11 players, that we would need 14 and everyone must be in top shape during the tournament.

"This was important. You saw in the final phase and in extra time that Argentina was getting tired."

Argentina captain Messi missed a golden chance to open the scoring in the second half in what was a subdued performance.

However, he has received backing from an unlikely source, with former Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho insisting Barcelona's Messi doesn't need a World Cup winner's medal to prove his quality.

"It's easy to respect him when he has won but when he has lost, it's not so easy," Mourinho told Yahoo.

"He is still a historical player. He does not need to be world champion to be a historical player, especially in this last decade.

The best of Brazil: 14 for 2014

Not even this effort could put Mario Goetze top © Getty Images
  • ESPN's Kevin Palmer ranks the World Cup's finest goals, but Mario Goetze's trophy-winning strike is not top of the pile.
  • Click here for the full list

"For me Pele is Pele and Maradona is Maradona. It's not for me to compare players from different generations. Maybe because he is from the same generation as when I was born - for me Maradona is Maradona."

When asked if Messi should be considered a scapegoat for Argentina's defeat, Mourinho added: "Not at all. I think in the first half he had fantastic options."

Mourinho instead laid the blame at the feet of Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella over his withdrawal of Ezequiel Lavezzi for Sergio Aguero at half-time.

"I would like to know why Lavezzi stayed in the dressing room at half-time," Mourinho said. "Argentina had been playing with two lines of four, with Enzo Perez closing Phillipp Lahm and Lavezzi doing the same on the other side. Because they were so compact Messi could walk while defending and then when he got the ball he had the energy to make the difference.

"When Sabella brought Aguero on for Lavezzi, Argentina changed from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 and they lost a lot of balance. Messi had to run much more after Lavezzi went off.

"The team lost balance and especially energy - energy that they needed in extra-time."

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