The World Cup will conclude with Germany facing Argentina in the final for a record third time in the competition’s history.
Germany head into the final as the bookmakers’ and now many fans favourites after their 7-1 romp over pre-tournament favourites Brazil in the semi-final.
Argentina were unimpressive going forward in their dull 0-0 draw with the Netherlands in the semi-final before beating the three-time runners-up on penalties. Lionel Messi had a few runs from midfield which often ended in a foul, whilst the Barcelona player failed to get inside the penalty area with the ball.
As I’ve stated previously during this competition, Germany look like a well-oiled machine, both going forward and at the back. They have strength in depth all over the field – quite literally too much attacking talent for any opposition to defend.
Alejandro Sabella has improved Argentina’s defence since the group stage. They conceded one goal versus Bosnia and Herzegovina and two against Nigeria, whilst were somewhat fortunate to keep a clean sheet against Iran. They allowed Belgium and the Netherlands just two shots on target combined in 210 minutes in the last two rounds, compared to 16 in their previous four matches, and have now gone 373 minutes without conceding.
Germany scored more goals in their semi-final win over Brazil than there were goals in the four quarter-finals, the other semi-final and by Brazil in their semi-final, combined. Unsurprisingly, they are the tournament’s top scorers. The two goals they have conceded in the knock-out rounds have both been consolations whilst they kept two clean sheets in the group stage.
Where the final will be won
Both sides have been possession hogs in this tournament but it is Germany who look the more likely to dictate possession and the tempo in this game. Expect Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos to see more touches of the ball than their opposing midfielders.
Out of possession, look for Schweinsteiger to pick up Lionel Messi and keep the Barcelona star quiet as he has done previously for Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League.
Marcos Rojo kept Arjen Robben quiet in Argentina’s semi-final but will have another tough job on his hand keeping Thomas Müller quiet for 90 minutes. The Bayern Munich forward is a bag of energy and very clever in finding space in the box. Also a threat on the counter-attack when Rojo is making attacking runs or is in the six yard box attacking set pieces. One goal for Müller in this final would almost-certainly see him win the Golden Boot.
Argentina have a wealth of talent going forward – Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero, Gonzalo Higuaín and Ezequiel Lavezzi. There’s even talk Ángel di María could be fit for the final. Despite this, the South Americans have only scored two goals in their three knock-out ties, totalling five and a half hours after playing extra-time twice. Lionel Messi (4) is the only player to have scored more than one goal for them at Brazil 2014.
Germany play as a team and Argentina’s attack has yet to click. Prevent Messi from having an effect on the game as the Dutch did and they will be limit the attack on Manuel Neuer’s goal. They also have goalscorers all over the pitch with Thomas Müller (5),André Schürrle (3),Miroslav Klose (2),Toni Kroos (2),Mats Hummels (2),Mario Götze (1),Mesut Özil (1) and Sami Khedira (1) all scoring on route to the final.
I’ve been backing Germany throughout the tournament and nothing changes heading into the final. They are the superior team in this tournament and the deserved winners. I believe the will keep Lionel Messi quiet and win the game in 90 minutes.
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