Germany head into Sunday’s World Cup final looking to become the joint-most successful European nation in football by lifting their fourth World Cup.
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Only an Argentina side that has scored two goals in their three knock-out round games stand between Joachim Löw’s players and glory.
Incredibly, Germany will be playing in their eighth World Cup final and having reached one in each of the past seven decades. This is the first tournament that Argentina have progressed past the quarter-finals since losing to West Germany in the final at Italia ’90.
Argentina’s individual talent lies in attack but they have not impressed so far in this tournament, with Lionel Messi (4) the only player to score more than one goal for Alejandro Sabella’s side in six matches.
Defensively, after looking leaky in the group stages, Argentina have tightened up somewhat by only allowing Belgium and the Netherlands a single shot on target in each of their last two games.
Holding Germany to that figure or even close to it seems somewhat of a long shot. Löw’s side boasts record World Cup top scorer Miroslav Klose, the intelligent and frequent goalscorer Thomas Müller, the playmaker Toni Kroos and Arsenal’s Mesut Özil who is very talented on his day. They are also supported by Bastian Schweingsteiger and Sami Khedira from central midfield and Philipp Lahm bombing on from right-back.
Javier Mascherano has been one of the best players in the tournament but I’m not convinced he and the rest of his midfield around can stop this German juggernaut.
Germany’s defence has been sold too – the only two goals conceded in the knock-out rounds have been late consolations, whilst they kept two clean sheets in the group stage with arguably the world’s best goalkeeper between the sticks – Manuel Neuer.
Despite a good defensive record of late, Argentina haven’t impressed going forward in this World Cup. Germany will look to focus on keeping Messi quiet which in turn will likely prevent Gonzalo Higuaín and Sergio Agüero getting much service. The Manchester City forward himself has had a quiet tournament, affected by injury.
Portugal and Brazil have been brushed aside, and France were beaten without getting out of first gear. Surely Germany are only 90 minutes away from winning World Cup number four?
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