Four key takeaways from World Cup 2014

By Amy Bass
July 14, 2014 — Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)

(CNN) — This World Cup final looked to answer a question that has been surfacing throughout this tournament, and perhaps — considering the hold King James has had on U.S. basketball fans in the past few weeks — all of sports: Is it the team, or is it the star?

The last game of this tournament pitted the best player in the world, Messi, against the best team in the world, Germany. And if nothing else, this match demonstrated definitively that while players like Messi might win games, teams like Germany win titles.

So Messi gets the Golden Ball. Germany gets everything else.

After steamrolling its way over Brazil to make the final, Germany looked to be a favorite for the title despite its early draw with Ghana. For Argentina, at stake was the lure of claiming the title on the home turf of its arch rival, Brazil, which finished a devastatingly disappointing fourth after losing in Saturday’s match against the Dutch.

But the depth of Germany was too much for Argentina in the end. While Thomas Müller — who started the tournament with a hat trick against Portugal and whose goal against Brazil in the semifinal made him only the second player in history to score five goals in consecutive World Cups — has been one of the stars of these past weeks, it was an extra-time goal by Mario Götze, who came off the bench, that propelled Germany to the top.

So with play over for another four years, what have we learned?

Sports matter: As we have seen time and time again with the Olympic Games, politics do not cease to exist when players step onto the field, the court or the pitch. This tournament proved yet again what a critical window sport provides into the world we live in, particularly considering the fiery protests that greeted the Brazilian government when it signed on the dotted line to host. The billions spent on bringing the most-watched sporting event in the world to Brazil put the country’s government into a fragile state as protestors told FIFA World Cup 2014 to “GO HOME.” But the politics were not reserved for the streets of São Paulo and Rio: Inside the stadiums we saw fans in blackface when Germany faced Ghana and a spike in the use of “Nazi” on Twitter when Germany faced both Brazil and the United States. (Read the remainder of this article at: