The Argentines squandered a number of clear chances throughout the game, including one from Lionel Messi in the opening exchanges of the second half.
The winning goal finally came with just seven minutes of the 120 remaining as Mario Gotze latched on to Andre Schurrle's cross before firing a fine volley past the keeper.
You can read how an absorbing final unfolded with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute coverage below.
6pmGood evening! Well, ladies and gentlemen, it doesn't get any bigger than this. Four years of waiting since Iker Casillas lofted that gold trophy above his head in South Africa is almost over, with Germany and Argentina facing off in the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. After 63 matches involving 32 teams over 32 days, we will be crowning a new champion tonight. Kickoff at the glorious and historic Maracana is two hours away, and before we take a look at both teams on show tonight, let's reflect on the tournament as a whole so far...
6.02pmWhat a World Cup it has been. From goals to shocks and remarkable results to stunning performances, the 2014 tournament has had it all. There was plenty of concern regarding off-field matters ahead of Brazil hosting it, but on the pitch it has been nothing but a joy to watch. For me, it has been the best in my lifetime and, although the goals have dried up a little in the knockout rounds (Germany vs. Brazil aside), we are just two goals away from having the highest-scoring World Cup of all time, eclipsing France '98. Right, let's have a look at the two teams left standing, starting with the Germans.
6.04pmIt is hard to imagine how Germany could come into this match in better shape following their exploits in the semi-finals. With Brazil missing their two best players, many people had the Germans as favourites going into the game at the hosts, but no-one could have predicted what followed. It was a ruthless massacre as Joachim Low's side raced into a 5-0 lead within half an hour and went on to win 7-1 - the biggest World Cup semi-final victory in history.
6.06pmSuch a performance rightly earned huge praise for the German side, and as a result they also go into tonight's final as favourites. However, they will certainly not be expecting a repeat of that Brazil game here at the Maracana and they will know that - as well as they played in the semis - they were given more than a helping hand by the Brazilian performance which, contextually, was arguably the worst in football history.
6.08pmHowever bad Brazil were, though, nothing should be taken away from the Germans. They still put in a very impressive display - the best any team has managed at this World Cup so far - and if they can repeat that performance tonight then it would take something special for Argentina to prevent them lifting the trophy. They won't be expecting seven goals again, but should they be at their best then they will be confident of winning this match.
6.10pmIt should be remembered, though, that it wasn't all plain sailing to the final for the Germans. They began the tournament in style, thrashing a 10-man Portugal 4-0 in their opening encounter to take complete control of Group G. However, Ghana caused them plenty of problems and even led at one stage in their second group game before Klose goal rescued a 2-2 draw for the Germans. A routine 1-0 victory over USA followed to send Joachim Low's side into the knockout rounds as group winners.
6.12pmThey were rewarded with what was, on paper, the easiest draw in the last 16. However, that didn't prove to be the case as Algeria caused them plenty of problems and could have even won the game before it reached extra time. There, Die Mannschaft just about did enough to squeeze through, but not without a big scare from the Africans.
6.14pmNext up was a quarter-final clash with a French side that had impressed up to that point in the tournament. However, Les Bleus were hugely disappointing and never seemed to put the Germans under any pressure as Low's men eased their way into the semis with a 1-0 victory. We all know what happened next, as Brazil were on the end of a genuinely stunning scoreline in the last four.
6.16pmTheir exploits at this World Cup have been the result of a team working together impeccably. While many of the other sides have relied on one outstanding talent to drag them through, you wouldn't say that any single German player has really stood head and shoulders above the rest in this tournament. That could well prove key to them winning the competition, with plenty of players at their best should one not perform.
6.18pmSuch an impressive team display has resulted in four of the German players being nominated for the Golden Ball award - more than any other side. Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and Philipp Lahm are all in the running, and a similar performance to the one they managed in the semi-final would make it a surprise should one of those four not win. However, as I mentioned, it has been more of a team effort than an individual one for Germany, and the likes of Sami Khedira and Manuel Neuer could easily be included on that list as well.
6.20pmDie Mannschaft simply have such strength throughout the entire side, with world-class players in defence and midfield as well as a goalkeeper who has reinforced his status as the best in the world at this tournament. Neuer has been at his imposing best between the sticks and, should Argentina manage to get past a stubborn German defence at any point tonight then they will still have to beat the Bayern keeper, which is no mean feat.
6.22pmGermany come into tonight's match in fine form having not lost a single one of their last 17 outings - a run that stretches back more than a year to June 2, 2013. They have won 12 of those games since a 4-3 defeat to the USA, with their unbeaten run being the best of any side to have reached the last four of this World Cup. Their record over an even longer period of time is similarly impressive, with the USA defeat their only loss in 27 matches since August 2012.
6.24pmThe balance of the squad has been key to such success, and Joachim Low's long-term plan of German dominance could be about to come to fruition tonight. His side are strong in attack and defence, with nine clean sheets coming in that 17-match unbeaten streak and three in this World Cup alone. Overall they have only conceded four times in Brazil, while their tally of 17 goals for is the highest in the tournament.
6.26pmIt is often said that the key to winning a World Cup is to peak in the latter stages, and it appears that Germany have done that. While they starting in style against Portugal, they certainly looked beatable against the likes of Ghana and Algeria. The only slight concern may be that Low's side have reached perfection too early with that slaughtering of Brazil in the semi-finals, as it is highly unlikely that they can produce as good a performance tow matches in a row.
6.28pmThe signs of Germany doing well have been there for a while, though. While Brazil, Argentina and even Spain were the public's favourites to win the competition, Germany almost snuck under the radar despite an impressive qualifying campaign that saw them finish top of their group, eight points clear of Sweden. They were the highest scorers in the European section with 34 goals in just 10 games, although they did concede more goals than any of the group winners (10).
6.30pmYou can never count out Germany when it comes to major tournaments, however. While they have got a reputation as nearly men in recent times, they are always involved in the latter stages. This is the fourth time that they have appeared in the last four of a World Cup - a new tournament record - finishing third in the previous two tournaments and second in 2002. That 2002 two final was the last time that they have reached the showpiece event, and a 12-year gap is a mini-crisis for a team like Germany.
6.32pmEven more of a crisis for them is the fact that they have not won the World Cup since 1990, when they coincidentally beat Argentina in the final. It has been a period of unachievement for Argentina since then as well, with today being their first return to a final since that 1-0 defeat in Italy. The last time they won the trophy was in 1986, when they beat (guess who?) West Germany in the final. That was a rather more entertaining spectacle which ended with Argentina winning 3-2 in Mexico.
6.34pmThere has been a lot of talk surrounding that 1986 World Cup-winning Argentina side ahead of tonight's match, with the similarities between the two teams especially being brought up. If anything, the current crop of players has a little more depth, with the likes of Aguero, Di Maria, Mascherano and Higuain, but they are led by a genius, just as Argentina were in '86.
6.36pmOf course, 28 years ago it was Diego Maradona who inspired La Albiceleste to World Cup glory, and the heir to his throne Lionel Messi now has the chance to emulate Argentina's footballing demi-god. While Messi's performances this summer haven't quite been as electric as those of Maradona in '86, the Barcelona man has still proved vital to his team's progression. It is no exaggeration to say that they may not have even made it out of the group stages without him.
6.38pmMessi has largely been kept quiet by defences crowding him out in this World Cup, but he has still managed to make the match-winning contribution numerous times. His goals against Bosnia and Iran may not live as long in the memory as Maradona's 'Goal of the Century' or indeed his 'Hand of God', but they were superb strikes under huge pressure that ultimately won his team those two games. He also scored twice against Nigeria and produced a scintillating run to set up Di Maria for the winner in the last 16 against Switzerland.
6.40pmIt has often been said about Messi that the one thing preventing him from joining Maradona and Pele on the pedestal as the greatest footballers ever is the lack of a World Cup medal, and good performances at international level. He could put both criticisms to bed tonight and, should he single-handedly win the match for his side once more, then we could well look back on this game as the moment he became arguably the best of all time.
6.42pmThe little maestro is one of three Argentinian players on the shortlist for the Golden Ball, making it seven in all that will be on show in this final. Messi is joined by Javier Mascherano, who has enjoyed a magnificent tournament, and Angel di Maria, who has had good and bad days in Brazil. Personally, I would say that Colombia's James Rodriguez is currently just about leading the race for the award, but a standout performance from any of the seven nominees on show tonight could change that.
6.44pmArgentina came into this tournament as many people's favourites to lift the trophy but, while they have made it to the final, it hasn't exactly been as easy as expected. They were handed a very kind draw in the groups and progressed through them with a 100% record, but they struggled to find a way through both Bosnia and Iran, while Nigeria also caused them problems in a five-goal thriller. Take Messi's goals away from those two matches, and you have two draws and a defeat for Alejandro Sabella's men.
6.46pmA last-16 clash with Switzerland followed, and that caused further problems as once again Argentina struggled to break down the opposition. Messi once again provided the difference by setting up Di Maria, who found the bottom corner in extra time to give his side the victory. It was more of the same against Belgium, although this time their solitary goal came nice and early against Belgium courtesy of a fine Higuain finish - by far the best thing he has done all tournament.
6.48pmThe semi-final against the Netherlands was a very intriguing encounter on paper, but in reality it turned into a rather boring game. Both sides struggled in attack as defence was the aim of the game, and chances were few and far between before a penalty shootout was needed. The Dutch had come through a shootout in the quarters but couldn't make it two in a row as Romero made two vital stops to send his side into the final.
6.50pmStrangely enough, it has been Argentina's defence that has been the most impressive part of their side so far in this World Cup. Going into the tournament, the front four of Aguero, Higuain, Di Maria and Messi was lauded as by far the best in the world, but they have struggled to live up to that billing. Indeed, despite a fairly kind route to the final, Argentina are yet to win a match by more than one goal in this World Cup.
6.52pmThey may not be winning emphatically, but the important thing is that they are winning. Including the shootout victory over Holland, Argentina have now won eight matches in a row and are unbeaten in 11, a run that stretches back to last October. They remain the only team to have won every single match at this World Cup (including penalties), while they are also the only team not to have fallen behind so far.
6.54pmAgain, though, it is the defence they have to thank for such an impressive record. They have kept a phenomenal nine clean sheets in their 11-match unbeaten streak, conceding just three goals in that time. Four of those clean sheets have come in this World Cup - equal with Holland for the best record in the tournament having played a game less than the Dutch. Overall they have now only lost once in 25 matches since September 2012, winning 18 and drawing six in that time.
6.56pmTheir main challenge tonight will be stopping the German machine that dismantled Brazil so ruthlessly. However, Argentina do have the added incentive of being able to win the World Cup at the Maracana - home of their fiercest rivals. To win it on Brazilian soil would be second only to winning it at home - a feat they have already managed in 1978 - and would give them bragging rights for a long time. Such an incentive should not be brushed aside lightly.
6.58pmOf course, as hosts, the Brazilians were not involved in South American qualifying for these finals, allowing Argentina to take top spot, two points clear of Colombia. They finished the campaign as top scorers with 35 goals, while only the Colombians had a better defensive record, with Alejandro Sabella's men conceding 15 goals in their 16 outings.
7pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS: The teams are in for both sides, and I can tell you that Golden Ball candidate Angel di Maria is left on the bench having not fully recovered from the thigh injury that forced him to miss the semis. Enzo Perez remains in the side, while Rojo has recovered from a slight ankle problem to start in an unchanged Argentina side. Germany are also, unsurprisingly, unchanged from their rout over Brazil, with Miroslav Klose once again leading the line. Full team news for both sides coming right up...
7.04pmWith just under an hour until kickoff, what can we make of those two teams? Well, starting with the Germans, there was simply no reason for Low to alter that side that destroyed Brazil so brilliantly in the semi-finals. Schurrle may have felt that he was in with a shot having come off the bench to score twice, but his penchant for making an impact when coming on could well be to his detriment as Low sees him as more of a super sub than a starter.
7.06pmLeading the line for Germany will be Klose, who will make his 24th and surely final World Cup appearance. That impressive tally puts him behind only compatriot Lothar Matthaus in the all-time World Cup appearance list as he moves above the 23 from Italy's Paolo Maldini. While he may not be in the same class as some other legends of the World Cup, there is no doubting that he shines on the biggest stage and has been a great servant to his country.
7.08pmOf course, one list of legends he does now sit on top of is the all-time goalscoring list at the finals, with his rebound against Brazil seeing him overtake Ronaldo with his 16th World Cup goal. Every single one has come from inside the box, and while he will never trouble Ronaldo in a list of all-time great footballers, there is no doubt that he is a superb finisher and does his job with aplomb.
7.10pmKlose is helped hugely by the talent surrounding him, and there is certainly no shortage of that in the Germany camp. Their midfield options are better than any other international side in world football, with Khedira, Schweinsteiger and Kroos all enjoying magnificent matches in the destruction of Brazil. They will once again be key tonight in what is likely to be a feisty and combative midfield battle against Mascherano and co.
7.12pmThen, of course, there is Thomas Muller. Just like Klose, Muller appears to thrive on the biggest stage and he is right on course to overtake his teammate as the highest scorer in World Cup history, He already has 10 to his name, five of which have come in this year's tournament. Should he grab another tonight then he would move level with James Rodriguez and - providing Messi doesn't net a hat-trick - would become the first player in history to win back-to-back Golden Boot awards at the World Cup. His overall record in the World Cup is hugely impressive, with 12 appearances, 10 goals and six assists.
7.14pmThe sheer strength in depth of Germany's midfield has been part of the reason for Lahm dropping back into defence and, while their lack of full-backs has also been to blame for that, it has proved to be a good move. The skipper has had more of an influence in his familiar right-back role and looks more at home there then he did in defensive midfield during the early stages of the tournament. Germany's defence is coming up against a formidable attacking lineup tonight, but there aren't many players you'd want back there more than Lahm.
7.16pmShould Argentina get past that defence then they have Neuer to contend with. The man-mountain of a goalkeeper has been superb at this summer's tournament and is a contender for the Golden Gloves. He faces strong competition for that award, but if he can match the performance he put in against Brazil - where he was tested a few times at the start of the second half - then he could well win the award for best goalkeeper.
7.18pmHe has already come up against Cristiano Ronaldo in this tournament, but this time it is the turn of Lionel Messi, who needs two goals to draw level with Rodriguez in the running for Golden Boot. Not even Neuer would be able to do much should Messi get a free shot on goal, and the Barcelona man will be keen to avoid going four international matches without scoring for the first time since Alejandro Sabella took over in August 2011.
7.20pmMessi is yet to score in the knockout stages of a World Cup, with all four of his strikes in Brazil coming in the group. It is now six games without a goal in the latter stages, but all of that will be forgotten if he proves to be the match-winner again tonight. Going back to 1986, West Germany kept Maradona unusually quiet for 83 minutes before be played a defence-splitting pass through for Jorge Burruchaga to score the winning goal, and Messi is similarly capable of making the difference in the blink of an eye. Incidentally, he has set up 21 chances at this World Cup, which is more than any other player.
7.22pmHiguain will be trying to take some of the attention off Messi today, but to do so he needs to improve from what we have seen so far in the tournament. He got the only goal of the game against Belgium with a really well-taken finish, but aside from that he has looked toothless in attack and has really struggled to make an impact. Messi thrives off having a player to exchange passes with on the edge of the box, as he showed against Bosnia, and Higuain needs to make that option available more often.
7.24pmOne player not in the starting lineup is Sergio Aguero, who once again misses out through injury. The Manchester City striker came on as a sub in the last game and has returned to full fitness, but having not looked sharp even before his injury it is understandable that Sabella has opted against starting him tonight. Lavezzi is once again the man who starts instead, and the PSG attacker is certainly capable of causing problems if he is at his best.
7.26pmBehind Messi, Argentina's most important player in this tournament has been Mascherano, who has more than earned his inclusion on the Golden Ball list. The midfielder has been key to his side's impeccable defensive record, and his refusal to give up was shown best with a sensational tackle on Arjen Robben late on in the semi-final. With Germany boasting such a strong midfield, the Barcelona man will be instrumental in any Argentine victory tonight.
7.28pmArgentina will miss Di Maria in midfield, however. The Real Madrid man enjoyed a remarkable season at club level and takes a lot of the attention off Messi for Argentina. When the opposition defence knows that Di Maria can take it past a couple of defenders and provide the end product then they will be keeping a close eye on him, which means that Messi usually has a little bit more room to manoeuvre. Di Maria has returned to light training and is thought to be around 80% fit, so he could still feature tonight.
7.30pmAs I mentioned earlier, the Argentine defence has been key to them getting this far in the tournament, and they will need to be on form again tonight if they are to emerge victorious. Premier League fans may be scratching their head at Demichelis - a figure of ridicule for much of the season - playing his part in such an impressive defensive performance, but he ended the campaign well and has taken that form into the World Cup. Argentina are yet to concede in the knockout rounds.
7.32pmWhile Neuer could be an important figure for Germany, the same applies for Romero. The Argentine keeper has spent much of the season on the bench at Monaco, but he was his country's hero on Wednesday as he saved two penalties to put Argentina into the final. He didn't have much to do throughout the 120 minutes before the shootout, though, and he can surely expect a busier night tonight.
7.34pmGermany could create a little slice of history tonight as they are bidding to become the first European team to win the World Cup in the Americas. Given the climate and hostile environments in South America in particular, that would be a very impressive feat for Joachim Low's side, but they have one more South American side to deal with before they can do that. Even so, most of the continent - and certainly Brazil - will be supporting Germany tonight.
7.36pmThis fixture will tonight become the joint most frequent in World Cup history, with this being the seventh time that the teams have met in the competition. Incredibly, it will also be the third time that they have met in the final, making it the most common final in World Cup history. They both boast one win apiece in the previous finals, but Germany have the recent bragging rights having knocked Argentina out at the quarter-final stage of the last two World Cups.
7.38pmWhile Sabella's side did win the most recent meeting between these two - a 3-1 success in August 2012 - they will still remember the 4-0 drubbing they received at the hands of the Germans four years ago when Maradona was in charge. They will be keen to avenge that defeat, and also to avoid becoming the first team to be knocked out three times in a row by the same side in the knockout stages of a World Cup.
7.40pmGermany's squad really is a mixture of youth and experience, with many of their players boasting both. They have the sixth youngest squad in this World Cup, yet five of their players have over 100 caps for their country already. Many also have experience of playing in major finals at club level, with Klose was also part of the 2002 side that lost to Brazil in the final.
7.42pmArgentina, on the other hand, would become the oldest squad to ever win the World Cup should they beat the Germans tonight. They only have one centurion in their ranks, but the average age of their squad in just under 29, which would surpass Italy's record when they lifted the trophy in 2006.
7.44pmArgentina are looking for their third World Cup title having won it on home soil in 1978 and been dragged through the tournament by Maradona eight years later. Germany, meanwhile, are looking to join Italy on four World Cup success, which would put them just one behind Brazil's record of five. The Germans are already the most experienced nation in World Cup history, with tonight's match being their 106th in the tournament.
7.46pmSouth American teams have come up against European sides in nine previous World Cup finals, and the Europeans have only come out on top twice. That will be exacerbated by the fact that this match is on South American soil, which will surely play into the hands of the Argentinians. Still, though, this German side doesn't seem to take much notice of such statistics and, when the players are out on that field, I'm sure they won't be thinking about that at all.
7.48pmOne thing that may enter the minds for the Argentinian players is how hard they have found things against Germany in the World Cup over the years. I have already mentioned that 4-0 thrashing four years ago - Argentina's heaviest World Cup defeat since 1974 - but they were also eliminated in 2006 and have only won one of their previous six meetings - the 1986 final. They have lost three and drawn two, although one of those draws was followed by a defeat on penalties.
7.50pmPREDICTION: The World Cup final is just 10 minutes away, folks! That means that it is time for my match prediction - and this one really is a tough one. Germany looked imperious against Brazil, but the hosts capitulated and put in one of the worst defensive performances I have ever seen. By contrast, Argentina have been very strong defensively and will make it very tough for Germany to get through. You'd have to say that the Germans have looked like the better team throughout, but Argentina have Messi, and he is capable of anything. I would not be surprised if this one went either way in 90 minutes, extra time or penalties, but I'm going to plump for a German victory...just!
7.52pmBREAKING TEAM NEWS: Big news coming in from the Maracana, and it is a huge blow for Germany! Khedira has been withdrawn at this late stage with a calf problem, and he will be replaced in the starting lineup by Christoph Kramer. The first twist of the night comes before kickoff.
7.54pmThe Maracana is a stadium steeped in history, and tonight it is hosting its second World Cup final. The first is still talked about today as Uruguay stunned Brazil in 1950 with a 2-1 victory, and hopefully we will have one just as memorable tonight. It has already hosted six games in this tournament, with Argentina and Germany both having played and won here.
7.56pmAs for the referee, Nicola Rizzoli of Italy is the man who gets the honour of officiating this game tonight. It will be the third time he has taken charge of Argentina having also overseen their victories over Nigeria and Belgium. He has only had one other game at this World Cup - Holland's 5-1 thrashing of Spain. He has plenty of experience having refereed the all-German Champions League final in 2013.
7.58pmThe Argentinian fans are going wild in the stands as their national anthem blares out. They certainly outnumber the Germans in the stands of the Maracana, but you can be sure that all of the Brazilians in attendance will be cheering on the team that ended their World Cup dream on Tuesday.
8pmHere we go then, we're all set for the 2014 World Cup final - the biggest game in football! We should have a cracker tonight, and I for one cannot wait!
1 minKICKOFF: Germany get the 20th World Cup final underway at the Maracana. Can they do the business as they did in the semi-finals, or will Messi and co drag Argentina to a third title?
3 minGermany have made the brighter start here and they have an early chance of a breakthrough as Rojo brings down Muller within shooting range. There are plenty of interesting parties standing over this free kick...
4 minFive players are all stood over the ball as Germany try one from the training ground, but it is slammed into the wall. Argentina immediately break and Higuain gets down the right side of the box, but he drags his shot from a tight angle wide.
6 minNice football from Germany as Ozil and Muller link up to move into the Argentine box. The latter looks to pick out Ozil once again, but it is just about dealt with by the defence as Romero scoops the ball up.
8 minGermany are seeing the lion's share of the ball in these opening exchanges, and Argentina seem to be happy to sit back and invite the pressure. That is a dangerous game to play against a team so good in possession as the Germans, but it will also allow Argentina to hit them on the break, potentially giving Messi more space.
9 minSuperb run from Messi down the right as he leaves Hummels for dead before stopping and then beating the defender again. He reaches the byline and looks to pull the ball back, but Schweinsteiger is well placed to clear the danger. The first real glimpse of Messi's magic there, though.
10 minLovely football from Argentina, and again it comes down the right flank. Zabaleta is right at the heart of it as he exchanges passes with Higuain before his low cross goes in between two teammates. This is better from the Argentines.
12 minBoth teams seem to be struggling a bit down their left flanks. Germany have got must of their joy with Lahm and Muller on the right, while Argentina have caused problems with Zabaleta and Messi three times in the last few minutes. Rojo and Howedes could both be in for long nights.
13 minLahm again comes forward and this time uses Muller's decoy run to swing a lovely ball into the box towards Klose. The striker has the run on Demichelis, but the City man does just about enough to ensure that he can't get there.
15 minThere is a patch of sunlight in the middle of the Argentina box that is causing the defence problems when the ball is hoisted high into the middle. A couple of players have complained about the sun getting in their eyes already, and at this level even small things like that could prove vital.
17 minGood defending again from Demichelis as he forces Klose away from goal and then wins the ball off him. He has made one or two vital interceptions already and is dealing with Klose's threat so far.
18 minKramer is making his first competitive start for Germany tonight, but he may not be able to remember a lot of it after this blow. He is looking the other way as Garay comes in with a hefty challenge, catching the late replacement on the side of his head with a shoulder. It is a painful one, but he should be able to continue.
20 minGermany are in control of this match at the moment, with Argentina intent on doing a containing job rather than really pushing for a goal of their own in the opening stages.
21 minWHAT A MISS! Oh my word, what a miss from Higuain! The ball is gifted to the Real Madrid man by Toni Kroos, whose header back towards goal was straight to the striker. He had time and space having been on his way back from an offside position, but with only the keeper to beat he snatches as his effort and drags a dreadful volley wide. What a chance.
23 minThe replays of that miss keep on coming, and it doesn't get any better. That was a gift for Higuain and you simply have to take them at this level and against this Germany side. How big could that miss prove to be?
25 minThat chance really came out of the blue, and it was uncharacteristic from the Germans. They have looked as confident as ever in possession so far and are knocking the ball about nicely, but Kroos simply didn't think with his header back. Germany have resumed control of the ball since, however.
27 minStill no way through from Germany, who are seeing plenty of the ball but have been unable to break down this stubborn Argentine defence. Sabella's side have refused to be drawn out of position at all so far, and that is making it hard for the Germans.
29 minYELLOW CARD! The first yellow card of the World Cup final goes to Bastian Schweinsteiger for a trip on Lavezzi. It was a cynical one, so he can't really have any complaints.
30 minDISALLOWED GOAL! Higuain tears away thinking that he has atoned for his earlier miss, but the flag is up to deny the striker. Messi knocks the ball out to Lavezzi, who in turn curls a superb delivery in to Higuain. The finish is a good one this time from Higuain, but the linesman correctly raises his flag.
32 minGERMANY SUB: Heartbreak for Kramer, who is forced off after half an hour having been a late inclusion himself. He doesn't seem to know much about it as he is still dazed from that earlier challenge from Garay. Schurrle, who has had such an impact off the bench so far, replaces him.
34 minYELLOW CARD! The second yellow card of the night goes to Howedes, and once again there can be no complaints. It is high and late on Zabaleta, and to be fair it could well be a red. Dreadful challenge.
36 minArgentina break through again thanks to a superb run from Lavezzi, who takes on three men before squeezing it to Messi. The Barcelona man takes over and runs at the defence as well, but his attempted pass to Higuain is read by Schweinsteiger, who puts it behind for a corner.
37 minSAVE! Germany come forward this time as the ball is slipped back to Schurrle from Muller's run down the left flank. The sub gets a good contact on his shot, but Romero gets across to make a fairly comfortable stop.
39 minArgentina have grown into this match and their game plan is working well at the moment. They have contained Germans so far and are starting to threaten more as the game is progressing.
40 minCHANCE! Messi bursts into life once again as he sprints past Hummels and into the area before squeezing the ball past Neuer. The angle at which he approached the goal from means that the ball isn't going in, however, and the German defence gets back just in time to make sure Messi can't knock it in.
42 minMuller is unhappy with the Argentine defence here. He gets involved with Rojo, which of course catches the attention of Mascherano and the referee has to come across and calm things down. He is right not to flash a card, but it is another niggly moment in a game that is bubbling nicely under the surface.
43 minCHANCE! Mascherano gives the ball away and immediately Germany come flooding forward. The ball is fed in to Klose, who holds on to it well before feeding Kroos, whose shot for once lacks power and is easy for Romero to collect. He probably should have done better there.
45 minAnother sight of goal for the Germans at the end of this half! Muller creates space to cross from the right flank and his curling delivery very nearly finds Klose unmarked at the back post. However, the striker just can't react in time to reach it as the ball spins behind for a goal kick.
45+1 minThere will be a minimum of two minutes added time at the end of this first half.
45+2 minOFF THE POST! Incredible! A corner is swung into the middle and Howedes attacks it really well in the area. He leaps highest and plants his header towards the back post, but it comes back off the post to Muller, who is offside. What an end to this half!
8.54pmWe're 45 minutes down in this World Cup final but still no goals at the Maracana. It was an intriguing first half rather than an enthralling one as both teams looked to implement their own obvious game plans. Germany have dominated possession, but that is as much to do with Argentina letting them have the ball as Germany taking control of it.
8.56pmThe best chance of the first half fell to Argentina, and it was a gift that they really had to take. Kroos played a header back towards his own goal, failing to see Higuain lurking in an offside position. The Real Madrid man had time to wait for the ball to drop but, with only the keeper to beat, scuffed his effort tamely wide. It really was a sitter.
8.58pmThat may have been our best chance so far, but the closest we have come to a goal was through Howedes right at the end of the first half. He attacked a corner really well to get there in front of the defence, only to plant his header against the post. In truth, he probably should have scored having had an clean run at the ball, but Argentina survived by the width of the upright.
9pmArgentina have had the ball in the back of the net in this game, but Higuain's celebrations were cut short by a correct linesman's flag. It was a good move from Sabella's side, with Messi and Lavezzi combining to find Higuain, but his smart finish was ultimately meaningless. It was a tight offside call, but the official got it right.
9.02pmThis match is so finely poised at the halfway stage, and I can't see too much changing in the upcoming 45 minutes. Argentina are likely to continue to soak up Germany's pressure and look to hit them on the break, and that is a tactic that has looked capable of reaping rewards so far. It was a high quality first half and hopefully there will be a similar 45 minutes coming up - just with a few more goals!
9.04pmGermany have not been able to find a way through Argentina so far despite enjoying 70% of the possession. Will that change in the second half, or will Argentina continue to be resolute?
46 minKICKOFF: Argentina get us back underway in the World Cup final, and they have made a change at the break as the impressive Lavezzi makes way to be replaced by Sergio Aguero. That must be an injury as Lavezzi did look bright in that first half.
47 minCHANCE! Huge chance for Argentina at the start of this second half! The ball is slipped through to Messi, who is onside and only has Neuer to beat. He slides an effort towards the bottom corner but, with the keeper beaten, it goes narrowly wide of the far post. You'd have expected him to score that one, big chance.
49 minThis has been a really bright start to the second half from Argentina, who are taking the game to Germany. They have already breached the defence on a couple of occasions, and should be ahead after that Messi chance. That could well have been his time to steal the headlines.
51 minCareless from Perez as he gifts the ball to Klose in a dangerous position, but the veteran striker doesn't have the pace to take advantage as Mascherano comes across to make the challenge. At the other end Aguero nods the ball down for Higuain, who swings and misses at it with his left foot.
53 minUnlucky from Lahm as he exchanges passes brilliantly with Muller down the right once more before being crowded out on the edge of the box. Argentina look to counter but Aguero is the man stopped on this occasion. There is a really good tempo to this game at the moment.
55 minSchurrle skips away from Zabaleta on the edge of the box before going to ground theatrically. The referee plays advantage, which only yields a corner for Joachim Low's side. Needless to say, Schurrle would have rather had the free kick and he is letting the ref know that.
57 minControversial from the referee here as Higuain races through down the right channel. Neuer races out and gets his fist to it before clattering into Higuain, but the referee awards the free kick to Germany. Higuain has certainly come off second best after that, and it is hard to see how it can be a free kick to the Germans. Neuer did get the ball so he shouldn't have been penalised either, however.
59 minCHANCE! Decent sight of goal for Germany as Lahm once again makes his way down the right flank before hanging the ball into the box. Klose rises highest to nod it towards goal, but his connection is poor and Romero has a simple save to make.
61 minGermany are once again enjoying more of the possession at the moment, but there is simply no way through for them against this Argentine defence. Sabella's side look slightly more threatening when they come forward.
62 minHalf a chance for Germany as Demichelis is caught in possession in his own half. Schurrle breaks down the left as a result and his cross takes a deflection off Mascherano, making it hard for Ozil to react and make anything of it. In the end the ball goes behind for a goal kick.
64 minYELLOW CARD! Mascherano goes into the book for a lunging late challenge on Klose in midfield. Once again, he can have no complaints about that one, it's a yellow all day long.
65 minYELLOW CARD! A second card in quick succession as Aguero comes flying into a tackle on Schweinsteiger, leaving the midfielder in a heap on the floor. Poor challenge.
67 minThe Argentina fans reach a crescendo in the stands as they try to spur their team on to find a winner here. The heat is rising, but it doesn't affect Demichelis as he seems to be the coolest man in the stadium by nodding a ball back to Romero under pressure from Schurrle.
69 minSchweinsteiger has tracked backed brilliantly tonight. On three separate occasions now he has been back there to make a vital interception to stop a promising Argentine attack. He is doing a very important job for his side.
71 minCHANCE! Chance for Germany as they finally manage to pass their way through the Argentina defence, but Schurrle's touch is poor and runs through to the keeper. He would have been in a great position to score had he brought that under his spell.
72 minIf I was being kind, I'd say that this is a speculative effort from Schurrle. He takes the ball down on his chest around 35 yards from goal before spinning and hitting it on the volley, but it goes a long, long way off target.
74 minMessi hasn't been too involved in this match since the interval. He showed flashes of his brilliance in the first half but Germans have kept him quiet so far in the second.
75 minSHOT! Of course, just as I say that, he bursts into life. The ball somehow finds its way through to the maestro in the right channel and he cuts inside onto his left, faking a couple of shots before finally letting fly and sending his effort a few yards wide. He just didn't get his foot round that to get the curl it needed.
77 minARGENTINA SUB: Second change of the night for Argentina as Rodrigo Palacio comes on to replace Higuain, who should have given his side the lead in the first half.
79 minHere comes Messi again as he skips away from one challenge before sliding the ball through the defence and looking to latch onto it himself. However, Neuer is out quickly and make the interception. Schweinsteiger was out to him so quickly once he beat the first man, though.
80 minCHANCE! Big chance for Germany! Muller slides the ball into the middle for Howedes, who is the only man in the box for Low's side. Germany would have preferred anyone else there as Howedes couldn't sort out his feet in time before the Argentinians swarmed around him.
82 minCHANCE! Another chance for Germany, but once again it is a waste. Lahm links up with Ozil down the right this time, and the Arsenal midfielder looks up and picks up Kroos unmarked on the edge of the box. He has time to pick his spot, but can only pass an effort well wide of the mark. He really should have done better there.
84 minJust over five minutes remaining of the 2014 FIFA World Cup final then, and we are still waiting for the opening goal. Unless someone can come up with something dramatic soon then we will have an additional 30 minutes at the Maracana.
86 minARGENTINA SUB: Alejandro Sabella makes his third and final change of the night as Fernando Gago comes on for Perez, which means there will be no Di Maria on show tonight.
88 minSuperb defending from Germany as first Boateng slides in to dispossess Messi in a very dangerous position before Schweinsteiger follows it up with a fine challenge of his own. Two vital tackles.
89 minGERMANY SUB: The Germans make a late change of their own as Mario Gotze comes on to replace Klose, who has now surely graced the World Cup for the final time. He has certainly given his best to the tournament over the years.
90+1 minAll eyes on the fourth official as he indicates a minimum of three minutes added time at the end of the 90. Will there be late drama at the Maracana or will we have extra time?
90+1 minSuperb skill from Messi to escape the attention of two defenders before playing what is almost a pinpoint pass to Aguero. Almost shades of Maradona's match-winning pass from 1986, there. At the other end Gotze goes for goal from 25 yards but scuffs his strike into the arms of the keeper.
90+3 minSuperb from Hummels as he slides in to dispossess Aguero in a dangerous position on the left flank. Argentina were breaking quickly there and Messi was looking menacing, so it was a vital challenge.
9.56pmThe 2014 FIFA World Cup goes to extra time! We will have 30 more minutes at the Maracana, so don't go anywhere. The game has seen a decent amount of goalscoring chances but neither side have been able to break the deadlock in the normal 90. It is still very finely poised and tough to call which way this will go.
9.58pmConsidering it is going to be another four years before we get a World Cup final, I must say I'm glad that this one is lasting as long as possible! The best chances have arguably fallen to Argentina in this match, but they are yet to have a shot on target, with the three shots on target so far all coming from the Germans.
10pmMessi had a wonderful chance of his own in that second half, and it is one that he would have expected to finish. It would have been the stuff of dreams for the skipper to have scored the goal that allows him to emulate Maradona and lift the trophy himself, but it wasn't to be on that occasion.
ET 1 minKICKOFF: Germany get us back underway for the additional 30 minutes as the World Cup final goes into extra time for the seventh time. Will we see a winning in the upcoming half an hour or is it destined for penalties?
ET 1 minCHANCE! What a chance for Germany to make a perfect start to extra time! They break quickly and the ball falls to Schurrle, who fires his effort straight at Romero. The keeper beats it away and Argentina look for a counter of their own, but Boateng stops it brilliantly.
ET 3 minWhat a fast start to this period of extra time! This time Argentina come forward through Aguero on the left, but he has no support in the box and his low cross goes all the way through for a throw, which Neuer rushes across to take himself.
ET 5 minGermany are certainly in a rush in these opening moments of extra time. They opened the scoring early in extra time against Algeria, and they look eager to do the same here tonight. Any first goal would be vital now.
ET 7 minCHANCE! What a chance for Argentina to get that opening goal! Rojo's delivery from the left eludes Boateng and falls to Palacio, who controls it and only has the keeper to beat. Neuer is off his line quickly to get right in the face of the sub, who lifts the ball over the keeper but wide of the post. Massive, massive chance.
ET 9 minFatigue always plays a part when a match goes to extra time, but Argentina must really be feeling it now, They were taken all the way to penalties on Wednesday while Germany, who had an extra day of rest, had the result sewn up within half an hour against Brazil on Tuesday. They should be fresher, that's for sure.
ET 11 minGermany are controlling things are the moment, but Argentina have looking dangerous on the break all night. That Palacio chance pretty much sums up the night so far, with Argentina getting a good chance but failing to hit the target after a period of German pressure.
ET 13 minThe first signs of cramp are starting to settle in for the players out there, and Schweinsteiger is the first to suffer. The German midfielder has been very good today, so they will need him to be fighting fit until the final whistle.
ET 15 minHALF TIME IN EXTRA TIME: Germany 0-0 Argentina
10.17pmQuarter of an hour done, and another to go now before we find out who will be crowned World Cup champions. If the next 15 minutes remains goalless, as the last 105 have, then the World Cup will be settled on penalties for the third time in history. The tension is really rising now.
10.17pmI'll note now that Argentina have won four of their five penalty shootouts in World Cup history, only ever being beaten by Germany (who else?) in 2006. Germany, meanwhile, have a 100% record having won all four shootouts.
ET 16 minKICKOFF: Argentina get us underway for the final time tonight as they look to grab a dramatic winner in the World Cup. This is the third of their four knockout games to go to extra time, so surely fatigue will start to play a part soon.
ET 18 minMascherano and Biglia both dive into a challenge on Schweinsteiger, which draws a free kick. Mascherano does have to be careful as he is already on a card, but that one would have been harsh for a second yellow. The free kick, meanwhile, comes to nothing.
ET 20 minSchweinsteiger is been in the wars tonight and this time he takes a blow to the face which opens a cut and blood begins streaming from the midfielder's face. It was Aguero who did the damage, and he is also already on a yellow, so that could potentially have been another dismissal.
ET 22 minSchweinsteiger comes back onto the field having been patched up on the touchline, and he gets a good reception from the fans of German persuasion. The game is being broken up by a few niggly fouls at the moment, and the German bench is livid at what they see as rough tactics from Argentina.
ET 23 minGOAL! Germany 1-0 Argentina (Mario Gotze)
ET 23 minFinally, we have the breakthrough! It is the sub Mario Gotze who gets what could prove to be the winning goal in the World Cup final, and what a well-taken goal it is as well. Schurrle does brilliantly down the left to beat a man and swing a cross into the middle which Gotze takes down on his chest before volleying it past the keeper and into the corner. Superb goal!
ET 25 minWhat do Argentina have in reply now? They have squandered some incredible chances in this match, with Messi amongst those responsible. They could have won the game in normal time, but now they are five minutes away from missing out on a third world title. Messi, your country needs you now more than ever.
ET 27 minRojo does well down the left to swing a cross into the box that is behind Palacio. The ball falls back to Biglia, who could go for goal but instead looks for Messi, only to woefully over-hit the pass. Moments later they come forward again but Neuer comes out to punch the ball over the attacker and then collect it the other side. Brilliant goalkeeping.
ET 28 minSHOT! A high ball is hoisted into the middle for Argentina and Neuer decides not to come. Messi arrives in time to plant a header towards goal from around the edge of the box, but the German keeper watches it comfortably over the top.
ET 30 minMagnificent from Muller as he gets the ball on the left and spins away from two blue shirts, only to poke the ball across goal and out of the reach of Ozil. He has wasted some valuable seconds, though.
ET 30 minGERMANY SUB: Unsurprisingly it is a defensive change from Low as Per Mertesacker comes on to replace his Arsenal teammate Ozil.
ET 30+1 minArgentina have two minutes of stoppage time to save themselves now. Can they do it? Messi has a free kick in shooting range. Surely not...?
ET 30+2 minIt is some distance and would have to be a magnificent strike to beat Neuer from here.However, if anyone can do it, Messi can. Romero, for some reason, is being kept back.
ET 30+3 minThe moment was set up for the great man, but he blazes it a long way over the bar. It hasn't been his night tonight, and that is a big reason why Germany are going to win this match.
10.39pmIt is heartbreak for Argentina, but jubilation for the Germans as Mario Gotze extra-time strike has handed them their fourth World Cup title, and their first since the country's reunification. A total of 24 years after last winning the famous trophy, they are finally crowned world champions once again. What a moment for this young but experienced squad.
10.41pmGotze's goal was a magnificent way to win this match, with his touch and volley showcasing superb technique and composure that belied this age. Argentina had the chances to win this match in normal time but couldn't take them, and they have been punished as Germany become the first European side to win the World Cup in the Americas. It was a hugely intriguing final between two good teams, but Germany are the side celebrating right now.
10.43pmWhat a World Cup this has been. Messi misses his chance to emulate Maradona in the final, but he can console himself in the knowledge that Argentina wouldn't be there without him. Germany have probably been the best team in the competition, so they are worthy winners of the biggest prize in football as they are the final side standing after 32 days of enthralling action.
10.45pmRight, that is all we have time for this evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for the biggest game in football as Germany win the 2014 World Cup after extra time courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Argentina. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction, analysis and player ratings. From me, though, it is goodbye for now!