Argentina 0 Germany 1
Match number 64 will decide the next world champion in football. There were 32 countries which qualified to fight for the title, and now it comes to two teams only. It will be either Argentina or Germany which will be called the world leader in football for the next four years.
If Argentina wins the match, it will be the world champion for the third time after 1978 and 1986. If Germany defeats Argentina, it will be the world champion for the fourth time after 1954, 1974 and 1990. These two teams have been arch-rivals. They have already faced each other in two world cup finals. This is the third time the South American team meets the European giant in a world cup final.
Argentina won against the Netherlands in the semi-finals. When neither of the teams could score even once after 120 minutes of play, the match was decided in penalty shoot-out. Sergio Romero, the Argentine goal-keeper whom nobody probably had high hopes for, turned out to be the hero of the match as he saved 2 out of 4 penalty shots taken by the Dutch.
Weakness: The primary concern for Argentina is that it has scored only a few goals in the entire tournament. While it always managed to score one goal more than its opponent, it failed to score against the Dutch. Argentine captain Lionel Messi, whom the team heavily depends on, has not scored since the group stages. Its key player Ángel di María is injured and is uncertain for the final. Gonzalo Higuaín scored the winner against Belgium but no other striker has impressed much in the tournament.
Strength: Even though Argentina has traditionally been criticised for its weak defence, it has shown effectiveness in its defence in this tournament. Javier Mascherano has played a major role both as a central defender and defensive midfielder. Romero's performance in the semis will boost the team-morale tremendously. Argentina conceded only 4 goals in 6 matches with 4 clean sheets. That is impressive by any standard.
What Germany did to Brazil was "murder" by sporting standards. The five-time world champions were defeated 1-7 in the semi-finals of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The hosts suffered the worst defeat in its world cup history, and Germany went to a world cup final for the eighth time.
Weakness: Interestingly, Germany which looks invincible at the moment especially after the Brazil match was stopped by a relatively smaller team Ghana. With due respect to the Black Stars, they were no match to the Germans on paper. Germany emphatically won against Portugal 4-0 in the previous match. However, the African team matched Germany's pace and attacking strategies with its own. Ghana was the only team which went ahead of Germany in this tournament. Even though the match eventually ended in 2-2 draw, it exposed the vulnerability of German defence against potent attack.
Strength: Germany is probably the most complete team in this tournament. It has such an attacking capacity that it can devastate any team on a given day. Thomas Müller, Miroslav Klose and Bastian Schweinsteiger are just a few names in its never-ending list of talents. Its captain Philipp Lahm leads the team with a no-nonsense strategy. Manuel Neuer is arguably the best goal-keeper in the world right now. Joachim Löw's team is good as it gets.
Head to Head
These two teams played 20 times against each other before. Argentina won 9, Germany 6, and 5 of those ended in a draw. There were 56 goals scored in total. Both scored 28 each. So, basically there is nothing that can separate the two in terms of overall past records. Germany, however, has a better record against Argentina in world cups. (West) Germany won against the South American team in 1958 (3-1), 1990 (1-0 in final), 2006 (4-2 in penalty shoot-out) and 2010 (4-0). Argentina won only in 1986 (3-2 in final).
Argentina: Lionel Messi, Ángel di María (if available), Javier Mascherano and Sergio Romero
Germany: Thomas Müller, Miroslav Klose, Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer
Date, Time & Venue
Brazil's time zone is UTC/GMT -3. The match starts at 4 pm (local time) on July 13, which means it is 5 am on July 14 in New South Wales, Australia. The match will be held at Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro.
Argentina, which started slow in the tournament, has consistently grown in its game from one match to another. Even though it never looked as overwhelming as Germany, it always maintained a restrained control over the matches it played. Germany, on the other hand, has looked ominous on its best days but looked susceptible at times. Lionel Messi will make all the difference and win it 3-2 for his team. Yes, that was the same score-line in the 1986 final.
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