World Cup 2014: The Grand Finale
It's here. The final showdown. The big kahuna. The game that the whole world stops to watch. Emotionally speaking, I'm like a child who just got the puppy I've always wanted…only to find out I'm impossibly allergic to canines. Life—it's a mixed bag, folks.
You see... this game, this Beautiful Game, only comes along once every four years. It's not like the Superbowl, World Series, or the NBA Finals, or some other sporting event that annually appoints a champion. These teams work four hard years for the right to be crowned the world's best. And unlike winners of the Superbowl, World Series, or the NBA Finals, being World Cup champions is significant in that the winner really did beat out the whole world, not just the continental U.S. Like I stated in my opener, it's incredibly special. So as excited as I am that today is the final, I can't help but get a little misty-eyed knowing that it will be another four years before we all get to experience World Cup magic again.
And what a show this World Cup was! Unrivaled athleticism, unwavering perseverance, heartbreak, goals for days, triumph, respect, skill, willpower, dental hijinks, humiliation, hope—this was genuinely the best tournament we could've asked for. I was constantly on edge (and will be again in a couple hours), never knowing what would happen next, but never failing to be entertained. I hope the 2014 World Cup entertained y'all, too.
Alas, like my favorite snacks of yesteryear, all good things must come to an end. I hope you've enjoyed this journey with me. It was one hell of a show, fútbol teams of the world. Let's do it again sometime…say, Russia 2018? Enjoy the World Cup Final everyone! It will definitely be one to remember.
Thunderdome: Argentina vs. GermanySo many tangents, so little time. I'd like to launch into an in-depth history lesson centered around how this is the third time these two countries have met in a World Cup Final. I'd like to talk about how Germany appears confident and dangerous in the attack, while Argentina are solid defensively but have still not put a complete game together. I'd like to draw parallels between the significance of this Final and the first time these two faced in the '86 title bout. I'd love to go talk about every single player and break down their likely roles today. But I'd be overcome with tears of joy/despair and short-out my keyboard, so I'll just keep it basic. I picked Argentina to win the tournament. Even though Germany look the favorite, I'm not changing my mind now. Where there is a Messi, there is a way. My Pick: Argentina 2, Germany 1
Player to Watch: If you've been reading these posts, you'd know this is rhetorical
He is my spirit animal and if you think for one second the onus isn't on him in this, his biggest game, then email me for information on how you can get rich quick (email address: firstname.lastname@example.org). If you're overcome with déjà vu right about now, it's because Messi isn't the first diminutive left-footed Argentine looking to captain his country to glory over ze Germans. Diego Maradona, Argentina's mercurial demigod, led his team to victory in the '86 Final over West Germany. Incidentally, a child was born in Rosario around that time. A child that is now known as The Atomic Flea. A child who, like Maradona, wears the captain's armband and the revered No. 10 jersey. If ever there were a game for Messi to have his "Maradona moment", today is the day. Will he be able to find space, create chances, and cement his status as one of the greatest to ever play the game? Only time will tell.
Match Day Dish: Lemonade Layer CakeNeither Argentine nor Germanic, this cake is symbolic for several reasons.A) I expect Messi to have his cake and eat it, tooB) Hey, Germans— when life gives you lemons, make lemonade layer cakeC) This is one of our most popular recipes ever. What better day to showcase a champion?D) I can choose what I want, cause 'Merica.In all seriousness, I wanted to go recipe-neutral so that, whatever the outcome, you can still enjoy a deliciously moist and refreshing confectionery after what should be a phenomenal game. Make this cake for your post-World Cup party and savor its flavor. And please enjoy what is sure to be a World Cup Final for the ages! Cheers.
Lemonade Layer CakeTotal Time: worth it
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
- 3 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 cups fat-free buttermilk
- Cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
- 2 teaspoons thawed lemonade concentrate
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- To prepare cake, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.
- Pour batter into 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
- To prepare frosting, place 2 tablespoons butter and the next 4 ingredients (2 tablespoons butter through cream cheese) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, and beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat). Chill 1 hour.
- Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.