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July 13, 2014
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Aspen soccer fans thrilled by World Cup final

There were joyous shouts of “Deutschland! Deutschland!” inside a packed El Rincon restaurant in Aspen on Sunday afternoon after Mario Goetze scored in extra time to give Germany the only goal it needed to win the 2014 World Cup final over Argentina.

A few minutes later, as time in the match expired, a group of around 20 Argentine women and their friends exchanged looks of sorrow and hugs at Brunelleschi’s restaurant, about one block away from El Rincon. But they later would speak of their pride in the Argentina team for all it accomplished in getting to the title match.

World Cup fever was evident throughout Aspen over the past month, no matter which teams were playing on the big screens of the city’s bars and restaurants. El Rincon, formerly known as Cantina Aspen, played host to huge crowds throughout the event, especially when the United States or Mexico played.

On Sunday, the El Rincon dining room and bar areas where television screens are located contained more than 150 soccer fans. Another 50 people dined on the outdoor patio and didn’t seem to mind that they lacked a line of sight to the game.

Aspen resident Alex Guevara, who was with a group of fans pulling for Germany, provided a halftime assessment of the match when the score was still 0-0. He thought both teams played a great defensive half.

“I wanted Germany in the last World Cup, but they were too young and they weren’t experienced enough,” he said. “This year, I think it’s all Germany. I was shocked at how well Argentina played them for a half. They are playing a really solid defense with lightning-quick counter-attack, and I think that’s the only way you can defeat Germany.”

He pointed out that Germany was unable to get any offensive momentum, primarily because of the stiff Argentine defense.

“It’s been back and forth, back and forth. Neither side is relinquishing an inch,” Guevara said. “Germany is still moving the ball around well and putting themselves in position, but there’s so much good defense happening. Argentina is denying them any space to make plays. It’s very smart.”

Of course, that all changed when 22-year-old Goetze, who was not a starter, came in as a substitute for Miroslav Klose near the end of regulation. His freshness made a big difference for Germany as he used his chest to control a cross — in extra time, at the 113th minute — and then volleyed the ball past Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero from five yards out.

After time expired, Guadalupe Bautista and her friends at Brunelleschi’s were clearly disappointed, but not overly distraught. Bautista is a native of Salta, Argentina, and lives in Carbondale.

“It was a great match,” she said. “We deserved the victory because we had so many chances. It was just 1-zip.”

When Germany scored, Bautista didn’t see it. After she learned of it, she thought Argentina would bounce back.

“I’m happy,” she said. “We were in the final. We were second. We went face to face with Germany, and they only scored one goal.”

In her opinion, Javier Mascherano was Argentina’s most valuable player because of his solid defense. But, she added, star forward Lionel Messi, the captain of his country’s team, seemed to play flat. He was held scoreless in his team’s past four World Cup matches after scoring four goals in the first three.

“Messi should have played better than he played today,” Bautista said. “I would say he didn’t give his best.”

Argentina has now been beaten by Germany — which won its first title in 24 years — in the past three World Cups.

andre@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Jul 13, 2014 08:33PM Published Jul 15, 2014 08:44AM Copyright 2014 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.