The World Cup draws to a close on Sunday as Germany face Argentina in a World Cup final for the third occasion. The goals, the excitement, the month of pure football finally comes to an end. It is set for an enthralling game as two attacking sides go head-to-head.
One of the most pre-eminent World Cups of all time puts two international giants against each other. Germany and Argentina will have plenty of memories as they have battled for the greatest sporting prize in the world before. In 1986, the South American side were victorious against the European’s in Mexico – Diego Maradona picked up the Golden Ball for his fine performances throughout. Four years later they were at it again but this time Germany prevailed as world champions beating the Argentines 1-0 in the final.
Now they are about to play against each other for the third time and what an opportunity for Argentina to win it in the home of their greatest rivals and hosts Brazil. While Germany will want to exceed their three previous tournaments after finishing third in the last two and were runners-up in 2002.
It is a chance for Lionel Messi to join the eminence of world football’s greatest players, to emulate the feat of Argentina’s icon, Diego Maradona. Messi has won everything there is to win at club level and has picked up as many as four Ballon d’Or awards needing only the World Cup to expand his achievements to beyond belief. Germany on the other hand have been one of the best sides in the competition, without a notable figure, the team have put in through performances and have played as a whole. For all the plaudits they have received in recent times, they are yet to win an international tournament. This is the perfect opportunity for Joachim Low and his side to rectify this. It will also mean the shake-up of the country’s football structure has finally paid off after it was introduced following the dire showing in Euro 2000.
Alejandro Sabella could be without Angel Di Maria after the midfielder missed the semi-final against the Netherlands with a thigh problem. He has been involved in training this week, desperately trying to return to action, but the final may come too soon for the Real Madrid man. Sergio Aguero is in line for a starting spot after coming on as a sub against the Netherlands. Messi has been the main man for the South American’s scoring four goals and adding an assist to his name. Javier Mascherano and Pablo Zabaleta are the other threats for Argentina, both have made notable performances in this tournament.
Standing in the way of their third title are Germany, who arrive in Rio de Janeiro in boisterous spirits after their 7-1 slaughtering of Brazil. Low’s side will be the favourites going into this match following the aforementioned drubbing of Argentina’s rivals. Germany have been ruthless in attack, scoring more goals than any other nation with 17. They have several options in each position showing a lack of weakness across the pitch. Thomas Muller has led the attack for most of the tournament, scoring five goals, only one short of drawing with current Golden Boot holder James Rodriguez. Miroslav Klose could start again meaning Muller will be forced into a wider role. The squad are free of injury and suspension so it is likely that Low will name an unchanged side to the one which saw the hosts off with ease.
Germany Predicted Starting Line-Up
Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Hummels, Howedes; Schweinsteiger, Khedira; Muller, Kroos, Ozil; Klose
Argentina Predicted Starting Line-Up
Romero; Zabaleta, Garay, Demichelis, Rojo; Mascherano, Biglia, Perez; Higuain, Messi, Lavezzi
By Lewis Blain