TIME World Cup

Riots Erupt in Argentina Following World Cup Final Loss

Vandals threw rocks at storefronts and attacked police officers

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What began as a peaceful celebration of Argentina’s performance in the World Cup final against Germany on Sunday incited police response of tear gas and water cannons just a few hours later after the Albicelestes lost the game.

At least 30 people were arrested in downtown Buenos Aires Sunday, CNN reports, following outbursts of vandalism and violence.

Tens of thousands of fans were gathered around the Obelisk to commemorate the first time the team advanced to the World Cup finals since 1990. But the country’s dream of winning the tournament was dashed in the game’s 113th minute, when Germany scored the game’s only goal.

TIME World Cup

Messi’s Legacy Debate Continues

Lionel Messi 2014 World Cup
Lionel Messi of Argentina reacts during the 2014 FIFA World Cup match against Germany on July 13 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Mike Hewitt - FIFA—Getty Images

Messi missed the free kick in the 120th minute of play against Germany, sealing Argentina's fate

sportsillustrated

By Brian Straus

RIO DE JANEIRO – Time was slipping away, yet Lionel Messi still had plenty.

Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger, who committed the 120th-minute foul that offered Messi the opportunity for one last look at goal, was receiving treatment a few feet away. The Argentine maestro took advantage of the pause. He stood quietly for a moment then bent over and pressed his fingertips into the ball, testing the air pressure.

On Top of the World: Germany Tops Argentina, Claims 4th World Cup Title

Messi was calm and deliberate, as if he hoped the measured pace of his movement would help clear his mind and calm any nerves. He was about 25 yards away and to the left of Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Argentina trailed, 1-0, in the dying seconds ofthe World Cup final at the Estádio do Maracanã and its fading hopes for a third title rested where they always had – at Messi’s feet.

It was an opportunity he’d surely rehearsed countless times – maybe as a boy in Rosario, where he was born the year after Diego Maradona carried Argentina to its second world championship. It became more realistic as Messi’s own star ascended in Barcelona, where he won every team trophy there is,along with a record four FIFA World Player of the Year awards. This was supposed to be Messi’s World Cup, the tournament where the sport’s most spectacular player, in his prime at 27, would end any debate about his place in soccer’s pantheon and in the hearts of his countrymen.

The free kick missed by miles, soaring over Neuer and into the crowd. Messi looked up toward the sky with an ironic, resigned smile on his face. That was it. The sport’s greatest goal scorer would be shut out for a fourth consecutive match, one he called “the most important of our lives” in a Facebook post. Argentina would lose the final and Messi, perhaps, his place alongside Pelé and Diego, if that ever was at stake.

Diego Maradona: Lionel Messi unworthy of Golden Ball

It could have been so much simpler. Messi already has accomplished at the club level what Maradona never could, and he played this World Cup under a spotlight that his predecessor couldn’t have imagined 28 years ago. Win it, dominate it, and the argument is over.

Maradona was regarded as supremely gifted – Barcelona bought him from Boca Juniors for a world record $7.6 million in 1982. But he hardly was a legendwhen that fateful World Cup rolled around in ‘86. He’d escaped the slums of suburban Buenos Aires andwon a couple of South American player of the year awards, one Argentine league title and a FIFA World Youth Championship. But he’d struggled with injuries and chemistry at Barcelona and hadn’t yet lifted Napoli to glory. No one expected or demanded a title when La Albiceleste arrived in Mexico. At 25, he wasn’t chasing immortality.

Messi was playing under a different sort of pressure here in Brazil and he rose to the occasion during the group stage. He scored in the opener versus Bosnia-Herzegovina, beat Iran with a stoppage-time goal then tallied twice against Nigeria. Messi then turned playmaker, setting up Ángel di María’s gorgeous game-winner in the round-of-16 matchup with Switzerland.

But as the tournament wore on and the opponents got tougher, Messi’s impact waned.Under manager Alejandro Sabella, Argentina has focused first on defense, starting with goalkeeper Sergio Romero and inspired by midfielder Javier Mascherano, who remains the squad’s soul if not its captain. Argentina’s soccer is far from the rhythmic, high-pressure, possession-based sort that Messi enjoys at Barcelona. Argentina had only 40 percent of the ball on Sunday, a statistic that might cause a riot at the Camp Nou.

Brazil Falls Short, but its World Cup Provides Unforgettable Theater

Messi’s contributions in the knockout rounds were intermittent and tactical. Set up to stymie Argentina’s primary threat, opponents made sacrifices in the attack. Games tightened up and scoring chances were at a premium. Sabella oftendeployed Messi in a deeper position. Hemight find the ball a bit easier there, but he was further from goal once he had it. In the semifinal against the Netherlands, Messi was shadowed effectively by Nigel De Jong and then Jordy Clasie.

On Sunday, he started behind one forward rather than two but still had lots of ground to cover when the ball came his way. And there were significant stretches when it didn’t. None of his four shots was on target, he was late arriving on a couple of counterattacks and he saw two promising first-half crosses cleared from danger after runs down the right. Messi’s best chance came in the 46th, but his left-footed shot whizzed across the face of the German net and past the far post.

Sabella refused to respond directly to a post-game question concerning Messi’s fitness, saying that he thought his captain had an “extraordinary” tournament and deserved the Golden Ball award handed by FIFA to the World Cup’s top player. Indeed, Messi led the competition in scoring chances created (21) heading into the final, a testament to his skill and efficiency. But that’s hardly a statistic they’ll be singing from the stadium terraces in Buenos Aires, and the glum look on Messi’s face as he accepted that trophy was clear indication that his dream had been dashed.

He described it in Saturday’s Facebook post.

“My dreams and my hopes are being fulfilled due to the hard work and sacrifice of a team that has given everything from match one,” he wrote. “We want to win, and we are ready.”

2018 World Cup odds: United States 33/1 to win tournament

He could have made it easier for the public and the pundits by scoring a couple goals on Sunday and carrying the more important hardware back to Buenos Aires. There’d be a three-way tie for GOAT. But it already was pretty simple for Messi, who’s famously shy and the polar opposite of the outspoken, effervescent Maradona. He doesn’t play for the history or the trappings. He’s been known to sulk when benched at Barcelona, which can happen during a game that’s out of hand or meaningless. He simply wants to be on the field.

“The only thing that matters is playing. I have enjoyed it since I was a little boy and I still try to do that every time I go out onto a pitch. I always say that when I no longer enjoy it or it’s no longer fun to play, then I won’t do it anymore. I do it because I love it and that’s all I care about,” he told ESPN’s E:60 in an interview prior to the World Cup. “I want to be world champion but not to change the perception of others towards me or to achieve greatness like they say, but rather to reach the goal with my national team, and to add a World Cup to my list of titles.”

Some Argentines feared his loyalty lay with Barcelona, or even Spain, where he moved at 13. His goalless 2010 World Cup (when Maradona was the coach) didn’t help. Messi suffered from a growth hormone deficiency as a child, and his family was unable to find an Argentine club willing to pay for his treatment, which cost more than $10,000 per year. The Catalans offered, so he left. He owes Argentina nothing but has continued to profess his love for his country. He’s already been capped more than Maradona and still has years left to play.

“I believe he’s in that pantheon. But he was there before,” Sabella said Sunday. “He’s been there for quite a while already, in the pantheon of the big ones.”

Germany coach Joachim Löw said he told substitute striker Mario Götze during the brief break before extra time, “Show the world that you’re better than Messi and that you can decide the World Cup.” Götze decided it, scoring the game’s only goal on a brilliant volley in the 113th minute.

Germany’s World Cup Title a Result of Revamped Development, Identity

But no one believes he’s better than Messi. He’ll never come close. Lifting theWorld Cup is about far more than a given shot, a single game or the bounces during a month-long tournament. Champions are forged in the long term through persistent work at the grassroots and league levelsand a focus on culture and player development.

Löw said Sunday that Germany’s route to the trophy started in 2004, the year he and Jurgen Klinsmann took over Die Mannschaft and Messi made his senior pro debut. The talent and depth on display in Rio was a decade in the making. As Germany accepted the trophy, Götze held up the jersey of injured winger Marco Reus, who many considered the team’s most dangerous player.He missed the tournament. Götze was a substitute. The man who passed him the ball, Andre Schürrle, also was a reserve. He’d relieved Christoph Kramer, who was the replacement for late scratch Sami Khedira. Messi has nowhere near that reservoir of talent with which to work. His silver medal is the reflection of a whole lot more than his (in)ability to master the moment.

Messi will move on. The next game will be the most important of his life. His legacy may be murky for some, but that’s the fun of sports. Those who want to debate it can do so. Those who are happy to let it go and are able to relax — or sit on the edge of their seat — and enjoy the remaining years of one of soccer’s most transcendent, exciting careers alsocan do so.

Messi will keep on motoring.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

Watch Every World Cup Goal in 1 Minute

TIME World Cup

Watch: The History Behind the Germany vs. Argentina Rivalry

This Sunday, Germany and Argentina will face off in the World Cup final. But this is not the first time that the two countries played against each other

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This weekend, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Trophy will go from the current holder of the gold statue, Spain, winner of the 2010 World Cup, to either Argentina or Germany. But this is not the first time the two countries have faced each other in a World Cup final.

In 1986, Argentina beat Germany 3-2, in a magic match where Maradona became Maradona. And it happened a second time in, 1990, when the Germans won 1-0 in what was considered at the time a less than exciting performance from the two teams.

Will Sunday’s match be a 1986-type final – energetic, surprising, memorable – or a 1990 final?

TIME’s Bill Saporito takes a look back at the rivalry between the countries.

TIME World Cup

The World Cup’s Moments of Strange Symmetry

In the game of two halves, sometimes history does seem to repeat itself

As an event that brings in people and cultures from all over the planet, a major part of the spectacle of the World Cup is its celebration of diversity, which makes the odd moment of symmetry all the more striking.

From full body suited fans to goofy goal celebrations, here are some oddly mesmerizing moments of similarity at the World Cup.

TIME World Cup

Argentina vs. Germany Referee Controversy Echoes, 24 Years Later

1990 World Cup Germany Argentina
West German forward Rudi Voeller heads the ball over Argentinian defender Oscar Ruggeri as forward Juergen Klinsmann looks on during the 1990 World Cup final between West Germany and Argentina July 8, 1990 in Rome. GEORGES GOBET—AFP/Getty Images

The two teams last faced off during the 1990 World Cup in Italy

sportsillustrated

By Ben Lyttleton

The outstanding image from the last time Germany and Argentina met in the World Cup final, back in Italy in 1990, was not Andreas Brehme striking home the winning penalty in the 85th minute, securing the 1-0 win for the European side, nor was it coach Franz Beckenbauer celebrating with the trophy.

WATCH: All Eyes On Rio: World Cup focus shifts to the Maracana

It was actually current U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann, tackled late by Pedro Monzon after a one-two combination with Lothar Matthaus, rolling three times and then raising up on one shoulder to continue his pained reaction. The challenge was in keeping with the rest of the game, and Monzon, a halftime substitute, was shown a straight red card for the tackle by referee Edgardo Codesal.

Worse was to come for Argentina: five minutes from time, Codesal awarded West Germany a penalty after Matthaus played through Rudi Voller, who, tightly marked by Roberto Sensini, fell to the ground in the area.

Previously in the match, Codesal had rejected Gabriel Calderon’s claims after a similar clash with Klaus Augenthaler.

Two minutes later, Codesal sent off another Argentine, Gustavo Dezotti, for grabbing Jurgen Kohler around the neck and wrestling him to the ground in an effort to get the ball off him for a throw-in. Codesal ran over and theatrically brandished his second red of the game, reducing Argentina to nine men.

“The referee has been physically manhandled by five players and if Argentina continue like this, FIFA will have to ban them from the next World Cup!” said BBC commentator John Motson. “Surely you can’t have this in the final!”

Brazil’s Nightmare Gets Worse: Argentina to Play for World Cup Title

This was Codesal’s last game as a referee. When he returned to Mexico after the game [he was Mexican-Uruguayan, and his grandfather was born in Argentina], he was confronted with hordes of journalists.

“I was brave and honest, like I always am,” he said. “The foul was Argentina’s fault, not mine. I’m calm and happy.”

At that World Cup, Codesal had taken charge of Italy’s 1-0 win over USA, awarding a penalty missed by Gianluca Viali, and blew for two penalties as England beat Cameroon 3-2 in the quarterfinal. FIFA observers gave him an average rating of 8.5 for his performances.

Codesal’s father, Jose Maria, was a referee who officiated at the 1966 World Cup. The one piece of advice he gave his son: “Don’t ever give a penalty if you think you will have to explain it a thousand times.” Nine years on, he remained convinced that his decision had been the correct one.

“I have no doubt,” he told Ole. “The referees don’t have to look for intent, they have to look for contact. This is what I saw: the Argentine tried to get to the ball first but he stretched his leg and tackled the German. It was a penalty. I was convinced at the time and I have not changed my mind since. For me, it’s a closed case.”

Netherlands Avoids Antics, Drama, But Feels Familiar Heartbreak

The case, actually, was far from closed. Soon after that interview, Humberto Rojano, the former president of the Mexican Referees’ Commission, went public on how Codesal had been appointed. He spoke of a meeting he had with Javier Arriaga, former head of the Mexican FA’s Referees’ Commission and a key figure in FIFA’s Referees’ Commission in 1990. Arriaga also happened to be Codesal’s father-in-law.

Rojano told Mexican paper La Jornada that “the authorities,” ­a phrase that is deliberately vague, ­had told Arriaga that “Argentina didn’t have to win.”

“I know the Argentines still hate me and that hurts,” Codesal told Reforma years later. “I love them and it hurts that I made them suffer. I would have liked Argentina won their third World Cup back in 1990. If I were God, I would change things, but I’m not God. I do know that in 50 years, they still won’t forgive me.”

Five Goals in 18 Minutes: How Mighty Germany Ripped Apart a Helpless Brazil

Codesal had actually watched the 1986 World Cup final between the same sides in Mexico, and had been supporting Argentina. But in 2011, over 20 years after the incident, Codesal’s stance had hardened against the continued hostility from the losing nation.

“I admire the Argentines for their will to win, but they have not learnt to lose, they just can’t accept it,” he said. “Someone told them that they lost because I was the referee, and they believed it. When Maradona uses his hand to score, that’s intelligent; but if they don’t win, it’s because someone stole from them.”

FIFA will announce the referee for Sunday’s clash between Germany and Argentina Friday afternoon, and whoever earns the honor will surely be operating with the cloud of Codesal lingering in the memory.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

GALLERY: Brazil Fans React to Semifinal Demolition

MONEY

UPDATE: Why World Cup Bettors Are Smarter Than Bond Buyers

140626_EV_WorldCupvsInvestors_2
AP (Soccer); Getty (Stock Exchange)

Update: Two weeks ago, TIME’s Bill Saporito used the lens of the global bond market to accurately predict that Germany (arguably the world’s best-run economy) would be facing off this weekend against Argentina (one of the worst) in the final of the World Cup. We’re resurfacing his piece in the belief that readers would want another look at Saporito’s prognostication prowess. Here it is:

In soccer, Argentina is a global power. Ranked 5th in the world and featuring among its host of stars the world’s best player, Lionel Messi, it is one of the teams that can threaten Brazil’s march to the World Cup title.

In financial circles, on the other hand, Argentina is to a functioning economy what the Faroe Islands are to football. A bit of a joke. A doormat. Indeed, last week the U.S. Supreme Court slide tackled Argentina as it tried to dribble past some American investors who are demanding to be paid, in full, the interest due on their Argentine bonds. Having convinced other creditors to go along with a deal—part of a broader effort to right the economy after years of mismanagement–the Argentinians wanted to force the American investors to eat some losses as well. The Supremes blew the whistle on that.

This raises a question, albeit one more likely to be debated in bars off Wall Street than on the beaches of Rio: Are you better off betting on a country’s bonds, or on its soccer team? With Argentina, the answer seems clear: The country’s chances of paying off its sovereign debt in full appear to be inversely proportional to the odds of its football team winning the World Cup, where it was a 4-to-1 pre-tournament favorite in Las Vegas. Argentinian debt, meanwhile, has a yield of about 13%, reflecting a risk premium that only Nigeria approaches among World Cup finalists. In short, betting on Messi may be the saner play.

With global interest rates so low in a world awash in liquidity, you’d think more global investors would reach a similar conclusion — but in many cases you’d be wrong. Investors ought to be yellow-carded: Their quest for yield is leading to crazier behavior in the market than on the pitch. Italy is a prime example. Punters pegged Italy, one of footballing’s great nations, as a 20-to-1 long-shot to win the World Cup. They got it right, too, considering Italy’s early exit after a controversial loss to Uruguay. But the Italian economy is a lot worse than the Azzurri. It’s still mired in its economic past, and where young people are stifled in finding work. Still, Italy’s bonds offer a measly 2.92%, only about 30 basis points higher than the 2.61% for U.S. Treasuries.

The U.S. team, on the other hand, went off as a 100-to-1 shot; ironically, we’re still considered a third-world nation on the soccer field, despite advancing to the knockout round of the World Cup again. With its strong (if heartbreakingly inconsistent) play so far, the U.S. team’s odds are now down to 40-to-1 to win the Cup. Still, the market is telling us to bet the bonds, not the team, and it’s probably right.
Soccer bettors seem to have longer memories than investors do. When the latter look at the histories of Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal and even France, it’s as though these nations have never defaulted, devalued, or restructured over the last couple of centuries. Compare Spain and Brazil, for example. Brazil’s bonds are yielding 4.22% while Spain’s offer a relatively paltry 2.76%, even though Spain’s economy is a shambles. True, Brazil has also struggled of late, but it has oil, youth, and seemingly higher growth prospects. And unlike Spain, it has major export industries in agriculture and aerospace — not to mention soccer players.

The place where the football bettors and investors correlate more closely is Germany: The former had 5-to-1 odds early on, the latter a 1.38% yield. True, German economic history is not untroubled, but today it is Europe’s champion economy — the strength of which goes a long way toward explaining why European bond rates in general have remained so low. Germany is, in effect, propping up the rest of the European economy. After today’s shutout against the U.S., however, it looks clear that die Mannschaft won’t do anything of the sort on the soccer pitch. If the form plays out, one of the world’s best-run economies will face off with one its worst.

 

TIME World Cup

Watch Every World Cup Goal in 1 Minute

With a total of 171 goals after the final match, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil tied the record for most goals scored, which was previously held by the 1998 World Cup in France

TIME Sports

Watch Argentina Fans on a Plane Freak Out When They Learn Their Team Won

Never seen people with so little legroom so excited

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Wonder how they’ll react if Argentina wins the whole Cup.

(h/t Digg)

TIME World Cup

It’s Pope vs. Pope in the World Cup Final

Pope Francis embraces Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Castel Gandolfo summer residence in 2013.
Pope Francis embraces Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Castel Gandolfo summer residence in 2013. Osservatore Romano/Reuters

But the Argentine pontiff and his German predecessor probably won't watch the game together, the Vatican says

The Vatican has cast doubts on a papal soccer party after saying Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, probably won’t watch the World Cup final together, the Associated Press reports.

Sunday’s final sees Argentina and Germany go head to head for the trophy but for Argentine Pope Francis, the final’s a little past the 77-year-old’s bedtime.

The Vatican’s spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Pope normally goes to bed at 10pm local time, an hour after kick off. However, he added that though the Pope isn’t a big sports fan “we’ll see in the coming days” whether the Pope will delay his slumber.

Pope Francis has already promised that he won’t pray for his home team to win. German Pope Benedict is also unlikely to pay much attention, apparently preferring intellectual hobbies over the athletic.

“Both would want the better team to win, without taking sides,” Lombardi tactfully stated.

Nevertheless, social media has already dubbed Sunday’s match “the final of the two popes” and has spawned the hashtag, #holywar.

On Sunday, Argentina and Germany will meet in their third World Cup final. In 1986, Diego Maradona led Argentina to victory, which Germany quickly overturned in the 1990 World Cup final. Despite their history, Germany remains the clear favorite to win.

[AP]

TIME World Cup

Argentina Beats Holland, And Completely Ruins Brazil’s World Cup

Argentina players celebrate defeating the Netherlands in a shootout at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 9, 2014 in Sao Paulo.
Argentinian team celebrates defeating the Netherlands in a shootout at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 9, 2014 in Sao Paulo. Julian Finney—Getty Images

It'll be even worse if they win the final against Germany

If the Germany vs. Brazil World Cup seminfinal game was no contest, with the Germans crushing the hosts 7-1, then the Netherlands-Argentina semifinal clash was the opposite: a contest of wills. A chess match and a cage fight masquerading as a football game. The Argentines were determined to put the brakes on the freewheeling Dutch footballing machine led by Arjen Robben. The Dutch were determined to make someone other than Lionel Messi beat them. He didn’t. At least not during the run of play.

Messi was one of four perfect penalty takers as Argentina bested the Netherlands 4-2 on PKs after 120 minutes of slug-it-out soccer yielded no goals, few shots and strangulation defense. “We didn’t create very much. In all the other matches we created more opportunities than we did today. That says something about Argentina, ” Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal said after the match. And the fact that Messi was bottled up for most of the game also spoke to the tactical scheme that Van Gaal had set up to thwart Argentina’s ace.

Argentina’s keeper Sergio Romero, who was once coached by Van Gaal, looked a bit shaky during the game, on several occasions punching the ball clear when he could have easily caught it. But in the penalty shootout, he got down to block Ron Vlaar’s first kick going to his left; then after Messi and Robben coolly made their kicks, he dove high to his right to deny Wesley Sneijder.

The match was now clearly in Argentina’s hands. Ezequiel Garay then smashed one down the center preserve the Argentina lead. After Dirk Kuyt kept Dutch hopes alive by making the fourth kick, Maxi Rodriguez ended them—keeper Jasper Cillessen got a glove on the ball but couldn’t keep it out. Van Gaal didn’t get a chance to use his PK blocking specialist Tim Krul, because he’d used up his last sub in replacing the weakening Robin Van Persie. The striker had been fighting off flu systems, and he was never a match for Argentina’s defenders.

Argentina now has the opportunity to make Brazil’s World Cup a complete disaster by winning the final against Germany.

For the first half hour of the match, it became quickly apparent that both teams’ strategies were working. Robben barely got an introduction to the ball and when he did Javier Mascherano, Argentina’s designated butcher, was there to make sure he didn’t get any momentum going. And Messi had a two-man Orange escort anytime the ball was on his foot. Bruno Martins Indi spent most of the first half trying to bite Messi’s leg, which finally earned him a yellow card and then a seat on the bench. He was replaced at the half because Van Gaal knew that Messi would toy with him in the second 45.

The only hint of an Argentine advantage was the deep runs being made by Ezequiel Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuain. But at the end those runs stood Vlaar, Holland’s giant defender, who had a magnificent game until his penalty kick troubles.

The second half and extra time had very little to offer in terms of offense. Robben finally broke through the Argentine line in the 91st minute but Mascherano was there once again to save his team. In the 106th minute, he was leveled by a shoulder from Kuyt, but played the rest of the game clutching cotton wadding between his teeth to contain bleeding from a cut inside his mouth. It was an enormous performance. Meanwhile, in the 117th minute, Messi finally outran Vlaar in the corner, but his cross back across goal to Rodriguez was hacked into the ground. That miss would allow “Maxi” to become the hero a few minutes later in the PKs.

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