Argentina v Germany
Kick-off Monday July 14, 4am SGT
As the curtain falls on what has seemed to be a spectacular World Cup with much drama, it seems fitting that the prestigious final will involve twice-champion Argentina and three-time winners Germany. They face off for the third time in a World Cup final, the most in the tournament between any two nations.
Germany would be looking to end the tournament on a high, just like how they started it, with a 4-0 drubbing of 10-man Portugal. However, after that game they seemed to have run out of energy and ideas, underperforming against the likes of Ghana and USA before a much-needed change in tactics and formation by manager Joachim Low saw off France in the quarter-finals.
Then the Germans handed possibly the greatest humiliation in football history to Brazil. They steamrolled the hosts, forcing Julio Cesar to pick the ball out of his own net an embarrassing seven times. The 7-1 scoreline has left the entire nation traumatized.
That impressive and masterful display of attacking football is exactly what Argentina should be wary of but with a world-class player like Lionel Messi in their line-up, Argentina should be hoping for a win. What they should not be hoping for is a repeat of the single-goal margin wins which they managed against all their opponents, bar the Netherlands. Attack is the best form of defence, and that’s what Argentina will be banking on.
Alejandro Sabella’s side will also want to humiliate Brazil by lifting the golden trophy at the home of their fiercest and bitterest rival. The whole of Brazil will look away in anguish if that becomes a reality.
Lionel Messi vs Thomas Muller
Messi has inspired this Argentinian side to reach the final. He has been immense for them, deciding most of the games in the group stages with priceless goals against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria, and an assist for Angel Di Maria that won the game against Switzerland in the second round.
Thomas Muller will need to be efficient in front of goal if he wants to inspire the Germans to their 4th World Cup title, as well as picking up the Golden Boot.
Javier Mascherano vs Sami Khedira
If Argentina win the final, Javier Mascherano should definitely be the name on every Argentinian supporter’s lips because it was his unbelievable tackle in the dying minutes of the semi-final game from an Arjen Robben shot that secured a place in the final. A severely underappreciated player for both club and country, Mascherano is tasked with the duty of containing Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos to show why he is one of the best in that holding midfield position.
Sami Khedira also put in a world-class display against Brazil as he showed the world his capabilities in defending as well as going forward, chalking up a goal and an assist to his name. He will be tasked to mark Messi and neutralise him throughout the match.
Sergio Romero vs Manuel Neuer
There is no doubt that Manuel Neuer is the world’s best goalkeeper at the moment. Brazil tried plenty of times to get more consolation goals but only managed a solitary one against the hulking custodian in the end. It all seemed too easy for Neuer.
Sergio Romero is coming into the game after claiming the Man-of-the-Match award against Holland with his penalty shootout heroics, which has made him a national hero. He is surely set to be brimming with confidence while the German attack will be looking to test him at every given opportunity.
Philip Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Benedikt Howedes
Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger
Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil
Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Ezequiel Garay, Marcos Rojo
Lucas Biglia, Javier Mascherano
Enzo Perez, Lionel Messi, Ezequiel Lavezzi
On paper, it seems like we are about to witness a thriller, and looking at how the tournament has gone so far, it is only right that finale ends on a high note.
The most interesting sub-plot of this final is whether Messi can finally win the Holy Grail, the trophy to end all trophies – the World Cup. Could this be the end of Messi’s tireless trek up football’s Mount Olympus?
With that in mind, the four-time World Footballer of the Year needs to be at his absolute best to make sure he puts a smile on every Argentinian’s face.
However, as Argentina had a day less to prepare and went into extra time against Holland, Germany have the slight advantage. Sabella practically showed Low who he would bring on in case he needs a goal for his side.
Messi was surprisingly kept quiet during the match by Dutchman Nigel de Jong and this would mean that Low would have taken note on how he can neutralise Argentina’s star man.
While it seems like Argentina have made all their remaining moves in an unfair chess game, all the Germans have to do is call for checkmate. 2-1 is my prediction as Germany become the first European team to win on South American soil.