FIFA World Cup ’14 : The Finale Match Preview

After an enthralling month of football, we have finally reached the end. After two of the most contrasting semifinals one could ever witness, all the hard work that’s gone in comes down to this solitary match.

The two finalists- Germany and Argentina have set up a rematch of the 1990 world cup final, a tournament known for many reasons, more so as it marked  Beckenbauer’s win as a manager. After Germany’s annihilation of hosts Brazil, anything can be expected and Argentina, who have had a not-so-much-flair approach to the tournament, have had a rather quiet time and this is surely going to be one cracker of a match.

Argentina vs GermanyTeam News

It has been confirmed since Germany’s mauling of Brazil that Shkodran Mustafi is the only injured absentee for the final. That is likely to mean an unchanged team for Joachim Löw’s men.

Argentina will be hoping to have Ángel Di María back for the World Cup Final after a thigh injury meant he missed the semi final against the Netherlands. Sergio Agüero came off the bench to play the final part of that match but he looked distinctly off the pace and struggled to impact on the game. But he has since trained alongside the team and that’s good news for the Argentinians

Overview

As said, the Germans would be high on confidence after their big win against the Selecao. Toni Kroos has been their standout performer of the tournament so far and other than Mats Hummels injury concern, the Germans do not have anything to worry about and their path to regaining the title of World Champions is so near.

Though they’ve had a quiet tournament so far, the Argentines are a team that shouldn’t be taken lightly on any given day. With the likes of multiple Ballon D’or winner Lionel Messi, Manchester City starlet Sergio Aguero, Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain and Ezequiel Lavezzi forming a formidable front three, they are a team not to be trifled with. The only source of concern though is the fitness of Angel Di Maria who has had a good run this past month.

Game Changers

1. Javier Mascherano

With Messi being marked all the time, the onus lies on the Barcelona strongman to steer the team ahead. He was easily the player of the match during Argentina’s semi final against the Oranje as he time and again proved to be the rock who didn’t allow the Dutch attackers to penetrate near the Argentine penalty box. Along with his defensive qualities, Mascherano glues the team together with his accurate passing and he has played in numerous finals with Barcelona and that would certainly come handy considering that the Argentines have won many matches rather late during their matches.

2. Toni Kroos

Probably the German player of the season, Toni Kroos has been a revelation for both club and country. His passing accuracy of over 90% in almost all of Germany’s matches have made him such a critical player for the Germans. He has also scored a couple of goals and set up three goals in what has been a fantastic tournament for the Bavarian midfielder. Kroos provides that much needed stability for the Germans as the duo of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira might be unpredictable at times. A dead ball specialist as well, Toni Kroos would be vital for the Germans’ quest of a World Cup win after 24 long years.

3. Lionel Messi

We all know the prowess of the four time Ballon D’or winner and on his day, he can take on any defence in the world. His abilities with the ball in unmatched and he has been one of the major reasons as to why the Argentines have come this far in this tournament. He has scored 4 goals and won equal man of the match awards and been one of the best players of the last couple of weeks. The last time the Argentines won the coveted trophy, a certain Diego Maradona was at helm of everything for the team and if they were to recreate that again, Lionel Messi must be in the forefront of everything for the Argentines.

Tactical Prediction

The La Albiceleste have not had a tournament where they have set everything on fire and I expect them to sit back. Javier Mascherano will try to recreate what he did against the Netherlands and cover the defense. Lavezzi will run down the left against Philip Lahm providing some much needed width on that side of the pitch and will also try to cut short Lahm’s rhythm and possession with the ball. Lionel Messi would most likely play from the centre so that he can create more space for the attackers on the wing. Gonzalo Higuain would try to be more outside the box as Manuel Neuer would come charging everytime the ball is anywhere near him.

Germany have dominated possession throughout the tournament and I don’t see why they won’t do that in the final. Toni Kroos may operate from the centre and control the ball for most periods as well as the pace of the game. Sami Khedira would try to cover out any space in his own half considering the firepower their opponents possess. Thomas Muller would try to run between the full back and the center halves for space and Ozil will look to run behind the defense with one twos. Miroslav Klose will link up with both Muller and Ozil trying to do make something happen.Germany will look to get Muller behind the defense. Germany may potentially score from a dead ball. Mats Hummels would be vital for the Germans.

Road to the Final

Germany

vs Potugal 4-0
vs Ghana 2-2
vs 1-0
vs Algeria 2-1
vs France 1-0
vs Brazil 7-1

Argentina

vs Bosnia 2-1
vs Iran 1-0
vs Nigeria 3-2
vs Switzerland 1-0
vs Belgium 1-0
vs Netherlands (4-2 on penalties)

Key Stats and Facts

0- The number of matches Germany have lost a match where Miroslav Klose has scored

0- The number of matches the Germans have lost in this World Cup when they have scored first

3- Argentina have kept clean sheets in their past three matches in the World Cup

17- Number of goals the Germans have scored. This includes the seven goal drubbing of the Selecao. Contrary to the Germans who have gone out blazing in all crylinders, the Argentines have scored only 8 goals.

Head to Head

Matches Germany Argentina Draws
20 6 9 5

In World Cup

Matches Germany Argentina Draws
6 3 1 2

Germany in World Cup

Appearances- 18/20
Best result- Winners (1954,1974,1990)
Runners (1966,1982,1986 and 2002)

Argentina in World Cup

Appearances- 16/20
Best result- Winners (1978,1986)
Runners (1930,1990)

Venue: Estadio Maracana

Time: The coverage starts at 12:30 AM (IST) on Sony Six

Prediction

After a roller coaster ride for the Argentinians, they have finally seem to have found their feet in the defensive department and seeing that they have been so potent, I fancy them to win their third World Cup this time.

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