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Brazil didn't rise from mediocrity this summer but its tournament did.It was about football's hard men, about Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, and the heroic performances of Javier Mascherano and Pablo Zabaleta. It was about the men who give Messi his platform and exist in his shadow. Every team at this tournament has had its flaws.Forget Messi's award as player of the tournament.You want a reason why everyone knew Argentina would not fold Sunday as Brazil did in the semifinal? It wasn't just that he broke up move after move as Germany pressed forward with a series of perfectly timed interventions.It wasn't just that he was the snapping, snarling, unyielding heart of this Argentina team. He played some of the best passes of the game, too, including one delicate second half chip to Higuain that may have resulted in a goal if Higuain had not strayed marginally offside. It was about a bloody-minded Argentina team that all Brazil had dreaded reaching this point.So much of this tournament had been built around the idea of Brazil trying to exorcise the ghosts of 1950 .
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