Germany vs Argentina: Sunday 8pm
This is a clash between two of the World Cup’s most decorated teams. It will be Germany’s record-breaking eighth final in the competition, but they have been victorious on only three occasions. The Argentines will equal the Germans’ World Cup titles by defeating them on Sunday. This is a battle between the best team and the team with the best player, which should make for an intriguing encounter.
Germany have waltzed into the final with relative comfort and never really looked likely to exit the tournament at any point. This was particularly the case in their semi-final match where they were at their rampant best, spanking the hosts Brazil 7-1. Conversely, Argentina have not performed particularly well in any match during the tournament and have been largely reliant on moments of magic from their talisman Lionel Messi to drag them through. They were taken to penalties in their semi-final match in which Sergio Romero, the often-maligned goalkeeper, proved an unlikely hero by saving 2 penalties to secure Argentina’s passage to the final. Having not performed to the best of their ability at any point thus far, many people believe that this is Lionel Messi’s time to engrave his place permanently alongside the greatest players of all time. The Germans, however, will be no pushovers and enter the match as favourites.
It is unlikely that there will be too many changes for either side coming into the match. The Germans were in scintillating form in the last match and will probably keep faith in the XI that performed so ably. That said, Andre Schurrle has made some impressive cameos throughout the tournament and could possibly replace Miroslav Klose if Joachim Low does decide to implement a change. Argentina will be praying that Angel Di Maria can return to full fitness in time for the match but there is at least positive news regarding Sergio Aguero. The Man City man came through his brief involvement against the Netherlands unscathed and should replace Enzo Perez in the starting line-up should Di Maria be declared unfit.
Tactically, I think both sides will keep it pretty much the same. The Germans will believe they can outplay and break down any opposition whilst also being able to pick off any opposition attacks with consummate ease; a deadly combination. Argentina won’t be fazed, though. They boast a wealth of attacking options such as Messi, Aguero and Higuain who have the ability to turn a match on its head in a matter of moments. On top of this, in Javier Mascherano they have an excellent defensive midfielder who has had a wonderful World Cup and has the ability to upset the German midfield’s rhythm and break down their attacks continuously for 120 minutes if necessary. It should be an enthralling contest that both sides will be confident of winning.
There are also a large number of sub-plots within the match. Firstly, both Lionel Messi and Thomas Muller could win the golden boot. Messi needs a hattrick, which is always possible with a player of his quality, whereas Muller only requires one goal to become the first man to win the golden boot in consecutive tournaments. In addition to this, the world’s best attacker Lionel Messi will be testing the world’s best goalkeeper in Manuel Neuer and arguably the world’s best player at breaking up play, Javier Mascherano, comes up against some of the most incisive passers of the ball in the game today: Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil.
All in all, this should be a fabulous contest and one that is extremely tough to call. My heart says that Lionel Messi will guide Argentina to victory and declare himself to be the greatest player of all time once and for all. However, my head knows that the Germans have no room for sentiment, have more quality than their opponents and should have enough to win. Whilst it would be a fairy tale ending for the Argentinians to emerge victorious in South America, I can’t look past the rampant Germans raising the trophy aloft after a fabulous contest this Sunday evening.
Prediction: Germany 3-1 Argentina