So, a month of heartbreak, elation and brilliance has boiled down to this: a classic World Cup encounter between the terrifyingly efficient Germans and (to put it simply) the best player on the planet - and Argentina. It would take a foolish man to predict the outcome of this game, but after the tournament we’ve just witnessed, I have a damn good feeling that it’s going to be a thriller.
The Germans are justifiably the clear favourites for the game. Unfaltering discipline and efficiency is the reason why Germany have so consistently reached the latter stages of World Cup. However, building from a youthful core of players who won the U21 European championship together in 2009, they now have something that they have previously been deficient of: flair, and it could be the key to getting a hand on the Trophy that has so narrowly eluded them for the last 24 years.
After humiliating the hosts 7-1 in the Semis, it is easy to forget Germany’s performances in the previous two rounds, hence why many consider them as an unstoppable force. While their Quarter Final win over France wasn’t entirely convincing, it is the game against Algeria that raises doubts. With better finishing the Algerians could have run away with it, their glittering pace on the wings and fast counter-attacking style exposed a vulnerable underbelly to Germany’s defence – and this is something Argentina have in abundance.
With the likes of Messi, Aguero and all the other ridiculously talented forwards Argentina have at their disposal, you feel that if that can withstand the German pressure till the second half then all it would take is one moment of magic – which they are more than capable of. Before the Tournament many wouldn’t have rated Argentina’s defence, it was the assumption that they would be a ‘We’ll score more than you’ sort of side, but it has been quite the opposite. Headed by the brilliantly tenacious Mascherano, their defence has been almost impenetrable, conceding just 3 goals all tournament (none in the knockout stages). With Messi leading a ruthlessly defensive side, the echoes of 1986 are there for all to see, and who came runners up that year? Ask the Germans.
We can talk about the strengths and weaknesses of both teams all we like, but this is a World Cup Final, you just can’t predict whether a player will head his team to glory or headbutt another player in the chest. The only thing we know for sure is that no one will be watching on ITV.
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