World Cup Final: A Look Ahead

Lionel Messi of Argentina

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By DAN KARELL

Germany and Argentina have the chance to etch their names into the history books when they take the field in the World Cup final on Sunday at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

In one of the best World Cup tournament’s in recent memory, one of two differing narratives will play out over the next 90 or more minutes. If Argentina win, and especially if it comes with a huge performance from one Lionel Messi, La Pulga will catapult his name firmly into the discussion of the greatest players ever to play the game of soccer.

If Germany win, however, they’ll become the first European nation to win on South American soil and will validate all the money and time put into revamping their system after their disastrous performance in Euro 2000.

In addition, it would be a great achievement considering the hard road Germany had to take to even make the final. Joachim Löw’s side played three games in the heat of the Brazilian northeast, have played without Marco Reus in their squad, and of course routinely embarrassed Brazil, 7-1, in the semifinals, which may end up being the most memorable match of the competition.

But ignoring the narratives for a moment, let’s look at the current state of both teams.

Germany is coming off the Brazil victory with an extra day of rest and a game that they hardly had to exert themselves in. Argentina on the other hand have a day less of rest and had to play the full 120 minutes before advancing to the finals on penalty kicks.

Injury-wise, both teams seem to be recovering well. Mats Hummels, who was substituted at halftime of the win over Brazil, is fit for action for Germany, while Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero are fit for selection, though it’s unlikely either will start.

In terms of tactics, Argentina have proven at this World Cup that they can defend at a high level, and that they’re best on the counter-attack or when Messi pulls a goal out of no where. But Germany represent a different challenge, with an interchangeable front four including Thomas Müller with five goals, Mesut Özil, Toni Kroos, and Mario Götze.

Javier Mascherano played the game of his life to mark out Arjen Robben from the match but he’ll need extra help from his midfield partners Enzo Perez and Lucas Biglia to close down the passing lanes that Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger find on a regular basis.

Considering Messi, Löw could decide to keep Lahm at right back and keep Jerome Boateng in central defense so that they have a faster centerback to keep up the Barcelona star.

Whatever the outcome, the World Cup final should live up to the greatness of this tournament, filled with individual moments of brilliance and fine team performances.

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What do you think of today’s match? How do you see it playing out? Who do you think can win it all?

Share your thoughts below.

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10 Responses to World Cup Final: A Look Ahead

  1. cformusic says:

    predictions? i’ll take the easy way out and say Germany 2-1

  2. empty space says:

    I’ll be rooting for the attacking team: Germany, to win over the defensive and cautious side of Argentina. (Even though Germany started this transformation 10 years ago it is still strange to write that sentence.) I think it is important for the game of soccer that a forward-pushing team win this great tourney.

    Unfortunately I would bet on Argentina, since I think a 1-0 result is most likely, and they have proven an ability to win ugly. Germany’s back line has looked uncomfortable under counter attacking pressure, so unless they can get a first goal I’m worried they’ll give an open field chance, or a few striking-distance free kicks, to Messi and co. Germany also has had trouble breaking down a well-organized defense, like Algeria and even the US. Especially Algeria with their midfield pressure and synchronized back 4 proved tough.

    I hope I’m wrong, and Germany’s win over France might be the model for victory here. Scoring first will be critical for Germany, but as we’ve seen in other matches where they get a lead they don’t do a good job of sitting back and protecting, so I’d expect Argentina to get a goal. Germany will ideally get a second before they give Argentina that confidence. My sad prediction is 1-0 Argentina, but my heart says 3-1 Germany!

    • Increase0 says:

      Germany should be able to keep out that 1 Argentine goal but only if Hummels is actually healthy. Per is just too slow for a game like this.

    • Adi in Oregon says:

      Good assessment es and I have a similar hope/feeling. This Deutschland team is too slow in defense (but have Neuer to save their arsch) and the midfield has gotten a half-step slower from the 2010 WC.

      • empty space says:

        I’m happy to be wrong! Germany deserved it, even if Aregentina had more chances for a final touch they put none on target. Good for soccer to see the team with pushing fullbacks and aggressive, selfless midfielders to win the greatest prize.

  3. Chris says:

    Who is announcing the game today?

  4. PD in Philly says:

    It all depends on who scores first. If the Argies need to push to get one back and open themselves up to the buzz saw that is the German counter, it will be a bloodbath. If they can remain compact and keep the Germans off the scoreboard then I think they’ll be content to wait out the 120 minutes.

    I sod nt be surpassed to see Messi get an early goal while things are settling in and then watch the Argies absorb until the 90th minute, where Germany knots it and it goes to penalties. At that point my money is on Neuer.