Report: Manchester United, Liverpool battle it out for Christoph Kramer

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Reports in Germany suggest that midfielder Christoph Kramer is being chased by some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

German international Christoph Kramer, 23, has been linked with a move to Manchester United, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Juventus as the holding midfielder continues to turn heads.

[RELATED: Kramer suffers head injury in WC final]

Currently playing for Borussia Monchengladbach, on loan from Bayer Leverkusen, Kramer has excelled in the Bundesliga and featured for Germany during their World Cup winning campaign in Brazil this summer. If you remember, Kramer was the last-minute replacement for Sami Khedira in the World Cup final but he himself was forced off the pitch due to injury in the first half following a nasty shoulder to the head from Argentina’s Ezequiel Garay.

Reports from German publication Bild claim that United, Liverpool, Real and Juve are all readying bids for the lanky midfielder, as they aim to add some steel to their midfield.

Kramer only has one season in the German top-flight under his belt after previously being loaned out to VFL Bochum in the 2. Bundesliga but he has shown in his performances for the national team and Monchengladbach that he is able to break play up and excel in the destroyer role in the engine room.

His transfer fee isn’t mentioned in the report from Bild but you have to think a World Cup winner, despite his slender minutes in the tournament, could gather anywhere in the region of $20-30 million. Kramer is still just 23 and is set to become a fixture in Joachim Low’s German side. His deal with Leverkusen runs out in 2017 but he will spend this season on loan to Borussia Monchengladbach for the second straight campaign, following two previous seasons on loan with Bochum.

Kramer has never made a first team appearance for Leverkusen in the league, but he could be about to make them a ton of money.

PHOTOS: Germany return home as World Cup heroes, fans pack the streets of Berlin

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The party is well and truly underway in Berlin, as the German national team are parading their World Cup trophy around the capital city.

After landing back in Germany on Tuesday morning, the team boarded a bus and have been greeted by up to a million fans in the streets who want to catch a glimpse of the nations fourth World Cup trophy.

[ REVIEW: Story of the 2014 World Cup ]

Incredible scenes adorned Berlin as the team’s plush black bus, complete with the four times Germany have won the title (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014) etched onto the side of the vehicle. The team and manager Joachim Low headed towards the famous Brandenburg Gate in the heart of Berlin where the “fan mile” is located. The German teams Boeing 747 also did a victory lap above the area before landing on Tuesday morning.

Below are a selection of photos from the event. Enjoy sifting through them to see the jubilant scenes in Berlin.

PHOTOS OF GERMANY’s VICTORY PARADE IN BERLIN

The team plane arrives back in Germany…

source: AP

 

Captain Philipp Lahm brings the World Cup back to Germany…

 

source: AP

 

The victory bus makes it way into the center of Berlin…

 

source: AP

 

The crowds continue to pour onto the streets to salute their hero’s…

source: AP

 

German manager Joachim Low thanks the German public for their support…

source: AP

 

Per Mertesacker, Benedikt Howedes and Mesut Ozil celebrating…

source: AP

 

Top scorer Thomas Muller lifts the trophy…

source: AP

 

The incredible party in Berlin is just getting started. Look at that crowd!

 

source: AP

Gotze the hero, as Germany beat Argentina in extra time to win fourth World Cup title

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Germany won their fourth World Cup title as they beat Argentina 1-0 at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.

An entertaining first half played out, where both Gonzalo Higuain and Benedikt Howedes should have scored, but that gave way to a nerve-shredding second half and extra time period as Argentina and Germany could not be separated until the 113th minute when substitute Mario Gotze scored the game-winner.

Germany’s “Golden Generation” had their golden moment.

[ RELATED: Three things we learned ]

[ RELATED: Twitter reacts ]

[ REALTED: Gotze fact file ] 

Fellow substitute Andre Schurrle got free down the left and curled in an inch-perfect cross which Gotze chested down and volleyed past Sergio Romero to send Germany wild. The Bayern Munich man became the first substitute to score in extra time of the World Cup final to dash Argentina’s dreams and write himself into World Cup folklore.

With their victory Germany became the first team from Europe to win a World Cup in the Americas, as they clinched their first World Cup since 1990 after an exhausting game between two giants of world soccer.

As for Argentina, Lionel Messi failed to deliver the goods on the biggest stage of all, as a brave defensive display from Argentina wasn’t rewarded despite the Albiceleste only trailing for seven minutes during the entire World Cup.

That proved pivtoal, as the 2014 World Cup went to Das Mannschaft.

In the fifth minute a menacing counter-attack from Argentina released Higuain but the Napoli forward dragged his effort wide of the far post after Germany had enjoyed much of the early possession. The German offense started to click into place as Muller, Ozil and Klose continued to link up well as the first half wore on, however another lung-bursting run from Messi down the right saw Mats Hummels struggling for pace but the Argentine captain’s cross was cleared away from danger.

Argentina were having plenty of joy down the right-flank, as Pablo Zabaleta surged forward and drilled an inviting cross that just missed everyone. Germany continued to dominate possession but Argentina were content to soak things up and hit Das Mannschaft on the break.

source: AP
Gotze was the hero as Germany won in extra time.

In the 22nd minute Higuain missed another glorious opportunity to give Argentina the lead as Toni Kroos misdirected a header back towards his own goal and put the Argentina striker in. However Higuain shanked his effort wide with only Manuel Neuer to beat, as the Argentine players, fans and coaches looked to the sky in disbelief. As half time approached Germany began to crank up the heat as Klose and Lahm were both thwarted by Sergio Romero. Higuain then had the ball in the back of the net as Messi’s ball from the right found the striker who finished superbly but he was in an offside position. Argentina’s fans had to stop celebrating as Higuain strayed offside when he should have known better. It turned out to be an afternoon to forget for Higuain. Soon after came a real talking point as Howedes went in late and extremely high on Zabaleta but only received a yellow card from referee Nicola Rizzoli, when it could have easily been a red.

Then young German midfielder Christoph Kramer (who was a late, late replacement for Sami Khedira who injured his calf in the warm up) was then taken off after failing to shake off a head injury he received from colliding with Ezequiel Garay’s shoulder early on. The game continued to ebb and flow, as Kramer’s replacement Schurrle side-footed a powerful effort towards the top corner but Romero palmed the ball away superbly. Five minutes before the break Messi went on another surging run and only a last-ditch block from Neuer stopped the Argentine, then Kroos scuffed a shot into Romero’s arms after an uncharacteristic giveaway from Javier Mascherano. Howedes then headed against the post from six-yards out as the goal beckoned, then Muller was flagged offside as the rebound hit him during a frantic end to a pulsating first half.

At half time Argentina went for it as Sergio Aguero replaced Ezequiel Lavezzi and it almost paid instant dividends as Messi was played through but the Barcelona star dragged his shot wide of Neuer’s far post. Usually when he’s one-on-one the net ripples. Not this time. There was an air of tension around the Maracana as both teams sat with two central midfielders just in front of the back four and looked solid as a rock. The second half proved to be much tighter than the first.

source: AP
Germany managed to shackle Messi in open play.

Neuer and Higuain then collided, as the latter received a nasty blow to the head, but somehow referee Rizzoli gave a foul against the Argentine player as things heated up. Mascherano and Zabaleta were both shown yellows in quick-succession as Germany tried to get in-behind but the final ball was eluded them. In the 74th minute Messi found a second-wind as he cut inside from the right but he bent a trademark effort wide of the far post. Then in the 81st minute Ozil cut in from the right and found Kroos on the edge of the box but the Bayern Munich hit a tame effort towards goal as Germany pushed for a late winner but they neither team could find one.

After a tight second half with the scores locked at 0-0, extra time started with a bang as Schurrle was again denied by a smart stop from Romero then Aguero broke twice on the counter but Argentina couldn’t take advantage of it as the game opened up.

In the 98th minute Rojo’s whipped in a delicious deep ball from the left and Hummels misjudged it to leave Palacios in the clear but Neuer was out like a flash and the Argentina looped his effort harmlessly wide. Both sides looked incredibly tired as the second half of extra time began with 15 minutes left before penalty kicks could decide the outcome.

PKs were not needed as Gotze stepped up to be the hero.  In the 113th minute the Bayern star chested Schurrle’s cross down perfectly and finished powerfully past Romero to send the German fans into raptures. Despite a few last gasp attempts from Argentina, Germany held on to secure their first World Cup title since 1990 and are the Champions of the World.

LINEUPS

Germany: Neuer; Lahm, Hummels, Boateng, Höwedes; Schweinsteiger, Kramer (Schurrle 32′); Müller, Kroos, Özil (Mertesacker, 120′); Klose (Gotze 88′)

Goal: Gotze 113′

Argentina: Romero, Zabaleta, Garay, Demichelis, Rojo; Biglia, Mascherano; Perez (Gago, 86′), Messi, Lavezzi (Aguero, 45′); Higuain (Palacios, 77′)

PST’s experts predict third place match, World Cup final results

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This is it folks. It all comes down to this weekend.

With only the third-place match and the World Cup final to go, a month-long soccer extravaganza has almost come to end.

Whip those tears away. Don’t worry, the Premier League season is just around the corner. Anyway while we can still put our necks on the line, PST’s writers are predicting the outcome of the third-place match and the World Cup final which take place on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

[ RELATED: World Cup bracket ]

Brazil face the Netherlands in Brasilia on Saturday for the third-place gong and decide who gets $22 million in prize money… instead of $20 million. In the final on Sunday at the Maracana, Germany and Argentina square off for the third WC final in history to try and become Champions of the World.

Here’s the thoughts of the PST crew ahead of what promised to be a fitting finale to a sumptuous tournament of top-notch soccer. Bring on the last hurrah!

Also if you don’t agree with our picks, feel free to post your own in the comments section below.

Joe Prince-Wright

FINAL: Germany 1-2 Argentina
Third-place: Brazil 1-3 Netherlands

Mike Prindiville

FINAL: Germany 1-0 Argentina
Third-place: Brazil 4-2 Netherlands

Kyle Bonn

FINAL: Germany 1-1 Argentina (Argentina to win on PKs)
Third-place: Brazil 1-3 Netherlands

Kirsten Schlewitz

FINAL: Germany 0-0 Argentina (Germany to win on PKs)
Third-place: Brazil 5-3 Netherlands

Nicholas Mendola

FINAL: Germany 2-1 Argentina
Third-place: Brazil 2-0 Netherlands

VIDEO: Looking back at past World Cup finals between Argentina, Germany

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Argentina and Germany are no strangers when it comes to squaring off in World Cup finals.

They’ve been here before: twice.

After the two soccer giants both reached the 2014 final in Brazil, it will be the third-time that both nations will battle it out for the famous trophy.

[ RELATED: Germany-Argentina in WC final ]

No other nations have squared off in three separate World Cup finals. Inevitably, there are a plenty of narratives bubbling away behind the scenes.

Throughout the 80s and 90s Argentina and Germany possessed some of the greatest players the world has ever seen. They faced each other in back-to-back World Cup finals in 1986 and 1990, with both nations prevailing once. Could the 2014 final be the start of a new power-struggle between the South American and European countries? Both squads have plenty of young stars, so that could well be the case.

Now is the perfect time to take a look a back at those past finals. Below you will find a quick recap on both finals, plus the chance to watch both games in full (thanks, YouTube) to get yourself ready for Sunday’s final.

1986 World Cup final: Argentina 3-2 Germany

A Diego Maradona inspired Argentina won the 1986 tournament at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Argentina raced into a 2-0 lead in the final thanks to goals from Jose Brown and Jorge Valdano. Then Germany (still known as West Germany then) bagged two quick goals late on through Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Rudi Voller to make it 2-2 with 10 minutes to go. Then Jorge Burruchaga popped up to score the winner, as Argentina won their second World Cup title.

1990 World Cup final: Argentina 0-1 Germany

Revenge was sweet in the 1990 final as the two nations squared off once again for the world title, this time in Rome, Italy. A barbaric game ensued as no love was lost between these two nations. It was the first final in 14 World Cups to see a player sent off as Argentina’s Pedro Monzon was sent off for a tough-tackle on Jurgen Klinsmann, then the Albiceleste were reduced to nine-men as Gustavo Dezotti was sent off for hauling down Jurgen Kohler. The game-winner came in controversial fashion five minutes from the end as Rudi Voller was adjudged to have been fouled by Roberto Sensini and Andreas Brehme stepped up to score the winning penalty kick. Germany prevailed to win their third World Cup, as Argentina were there own worst enemies.