Why exactly did Messi win the Golden Ball?

Argentina's Lionel Messi reacts after the whistle after extra time in the 2014 World Cup final...

Argentina's Lionel Messi reacts after the whistle after extra time in the 2014 World Cup final between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro July 13, 2014. (REUTERS/Darren Staples)

KURTIS LARSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:14 PM ET

Golden Ball?

More like Golden Goose.

It's clear FIFA picked this World Cup's Golden Ball winner well before Sunday's ending.

Lionel Messi wasn't close to being the top player in this tournament.

Still, ahead of Germany being presented with the trophy here Sunday following a 1-0 extra-time win, FIFA announced the world's best player as the tournament's top performer.

I was informed of Messi's latest achievement while doing a quick radio hit following Sunday's game.

My response: "You've got to be kidding me," I said on-air.

Because, well, Messi wasn't close to being the tournament’s best player.

Messi miss

He did well, yes, scoring some important goals amidst constant criticism during the group stage.

But how a guy like Germany's Thomas Mueller got looked over is beyond me.

He scored five times and added three helpers before his team won the entire competition.

I'd argue there are four different Germans -- Mats Hummels, Philipp Lahm and Jerome Boateng being the other -- who should have won the Golden Ball ahead of Argentina's playmaker.

Messi's third World Cup was anything but golden. If anything, it was status quo.

The world's best player continues to underperform in the tournament that matters most.

KRAMER'S CAGE RATTLED

Germany's Christoph Kramer took a shot to the skull that might have netted an NHLer a 25-game suspension.

Just before the 20-minute mark, the 23-year-old was attempting to shield the ball along the goal line before Argentina's Ezequiel Garay came from his blind side to challenge for the ball.

But, in stepping across Kramer, Garay's shoulder caught the German midfielder in the side of the head, leaving him dazed on the surface.

There was nothing nefarious about it. Garay simply went in strong to protect himself while winning the challenge.

But German doctors -- supposedly among the best in the world -- deemed Kramer fit to continue, despite cameras showing Kramer looking like a deer in headlights.

While he looked OK for five minutes, Kramer eventually needed to be helped off the field with what appeared to be concussion-like symptoms.

It was the highs and lows of this cruel game on display.

Kramer wasn't supposed to take part here at the Maracana on Sunday. He was a late replacement for Sami Khedira after the German midfielder sustained a calf injury in warm-ups.

What has been glaringly obvious at this World Cup is the lack of attention being paid to serious injuries.

Brazil's Neymar was simply dropped in a bucket and carried off the pitch after fracturing vertebra in a quarterfinal match against Colombia.

And Argentina's Pablo Zabaleta and Javier Mascherano both suffered head trauma in a semifinal win over the Netherlands.

DIDN'T TAKE CHANCES

With the game on his foot in the 21st minute, Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain missed a chance to likely put the South Americans up for good.

A terrible mistake from Toni Kroos saw the German head the ball behind his own defence, allowing Higuain to run onto the play.

He was likely as surprised as everyone inside the stadium to collect the gift he'd been given.

But after failing to get the ball out from under his feet, Higuain struck a half-volley from the top of the box that missed the net completely.

It was amateurish, akin to American forward Chris Wondolowski's miss late in a second-round matchup with Belgium.

The night continued to go downhill for Argentina's No. 9, who also failed to hold his run before he appeared to rescue his blushes midway through the first half.

He disappointed after the break, too, getting caught offside again in what would have produced a dangerous opportunity.

He also completely fanned on an attempt in the 51st minute before his night eventually ended.

NEUER ANNIHILATES HIGUAIN

Those hockey jocks that constantly spit on soccer for not being a tough sport should all be shown replays of the previous four World Cup games.

They should focus in on one play in particular.

Around the hour mark here at Maracana, German netminder Manuel Neuer sprinted off his line to deliver a punishing blow.

Unfortunately for Higuain, after blowing a number of opportunities, his day got even worse.

In what would normally be considered a "50-50" challenge between opposing players, Neuer left his feet before putting a knee into the side of Higuain's jaw.

Although Higuain was looking to make a play on the ball, he was completely obliterated by the German man-mountain.

Still, Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli handed the foul to Argentina.

Sure, in the tradition of the game goalkeepers are allowed to "protect themselves" against approaching players in the box.

But at what point can it be said a 'keeper isn't allowed to simply lay out a defenseless striker who only has eyes for the ball?

I mentioned the NHL earlier, but if that hit Neuer put on Higuain would have happened in the NFL it would have been a personal foul and a possible expulsion.

In this bizarre sport we love, the player who inflicted the damage got the call. Because, well, "he got the ball."

In reality, shouldn't it have been Argentina with a dead ball outside the box?

FAN ON THE FIELD

Bulked up security at the Maracana was marked on Sunday.

Not just to get into the stadium, either.

Around the field sat more than 100 orange-clad security guards two rows deep.

They had one job: Prevent fans from entering the field.

Despite their best efforts, security was breached late in the second half when man wearing a pop top and short shorts darted onto the field from a section right down in front of me.

He didn't get far before slipping and being taken into custody.

Which got me thinking: There should be a sliding scale for pitch-invaders at this tournament.

Enter the field of play during the group stage and spend a night in a Brazilian cell.

Enter the pitch during the World Cup final and you've just earned yourself a week in a Brazilian favela.

PLAYERS ON THE FIELD

Someone forgot to tell the Germans that FIFA no longer uses the Golden Goal rule in extra time.

When Mario Gotze belted home the game-winner in the second half of extra time, Germany's players leapt off the bench and entered the pitch.

It was momentary chaos until they finally realized there was another 10 minutes to go in the match.

They did the same at full-time, only they were world champions the second go around.

A LITTLE TIRED?

Anyone else notice the Germans looked a lot fitter than Argentina at the close of Sunday's match?

It didn't come as a surprise.

The Germans were given an extra day of rest ahead of the World Cup final having beaten Brazil last Tuesday.

Argentina, on the other hand, played and extra-time match against the Netherlands on Wednesday.

When this thing wasn't over after an hour and a half, you just knew the Germans were prime for victory.

*Messi/Kramer GIFs via @myregularface of GIFgoldmine.com


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