After a month of excitement, drama and pageantry, it comes down to one decisive match. Both Germany and Argentina have multiple World Cup victories on their resumes. For Germany, the chance at a fourth trophy, on the heels of their utter destruction of host Brazil, would only add to an already sterling international reputation. Argentina can win its third and like the 1986 victory in Mexico did for Diego Maradona, beating Germany could help cement the argument that Lionel Messi is the best player of all time. A great player versus a great team. Ninety minutes (and maybe a few more) are left to see who ends this beautiful tournament with either joy or heartbreak.
Three Reasons Argentina Will Win
He is such a physically diminutive figure but the grandness of Messi’s influence has been there for all to see throughout this World Cup. He has dragged Argentina over the finish line in a few matches leading up to this final, using his magical left foot, incomparable vision and surgical passing ability. Even when he was basically taken out of the semi by a stout defensive effort from the Netherlands, he calmly buried his penalty during the shootout. He is 27, at peak power and may never have this opportunity again. Would you count him out?
Perhaps you’ve noticed something about Argentina the past few matches – they got good defensively. Loaded up front, it was the back four and a shaky Sergio Romero in goal that made Argentina a risky pick to get the job done. But aside from the two goals conceded to Nigeria in the group stage and a single one in their tourney opener versus Bosnia-Herzegovina, Argentina has kept four clean sheets, including three straight. They shut down the potent Dutch attack last time out. Hell, converted defender Javier Mascherano even suffered a stretched anus for the cause when he dove to stop a Netherlands attempt. It would be a tall task to handle the Germans but again, it’s just 90 more minutes to glory.
No European team has ever won the World Cup on South American soil.
Three Reasons Germany Will Win
The Germans boast so many great players all of whom have learned to play together as a unit. There is continuity among the many great names, like Muller, Ozil, Kroos, Khedira, Lahm, Hummels and Neuer. To be able to bring players like Schurrle and the all-time World Cup goal scorer Klose into a match (if he doesn’t start again) is a luxury.
With the core of Bayern Munich players and a few from Real Madrid, Germany boasts players that have won big trophies, particularly the Champions League. There isn’t a bigger match to play in at the club level than that final. They know the big stage. Now, some pundits will argue that the pressure of a World Cup final is on another level completely. Maybe. The point is, the Germans are confident with high aspirations. They have been there before. And the professionalism they maintained as they buried Brazil speaks volumes about what the main objective is here – winning the last match of the tournament.
Manuel Neuer is arguably the best goalkeeper in the world. The imposing 28-year-old can back said argument with a victorious performance on Sunday. With Messi and Gonzalo Higuain (maybe Sergio Aguero, too) firing bullets at him, Neuer will likely be tested. But like the German team as a whole, he hardly lacks confidence. He’s a difference maker. If it goes to kicks, Germany has to be the favourite because of its big man between the uprights.
Prediction: Germany 2 Argentina 1
Photo credit: The Guardian