The curtain comes down on the 20th FIFA World Cup on Sunday at the historic Maracana, where Brazil’s bitter rivals Argentina hope to triumph over the impressive Germans, who demolished the hosts’ dream in that extraordinary semi-final.
Whilst it has arguably been one of the greatest World Cups, unlike previous tournaments there have been few outstanding teams. Germany are undisputedly the standout side of 2014 – a highly efficient unit with a good balance between attacking ruthlessness and defensive solidity. Thomas Müller has once again thrived on the biggest stage of all, notching five goals en route to the final. The 24 year-old, along with World Cup icon Miroslav Klose, won’t squander many opportunities, if any. That can be said for the entire side too, as we saw in the 7-1 tonking of Brazil.
Argentina have been far from their free-flowing selves, winning all their games either by a one-goal margin or through the lottery of penalties. They eased through their group, but since then it has been a struggle; it took extra-time to find a way past Switzerland’s parked bus and they failed to kill off what should have been a comfortable win over the disappointing Belgians. Understandably they have been highly reliant on the magical Lionel Messi, whose goals helped seal Albiceleste’s safe passage to the knockout stages. His fitness has been questioned since then, though, and whether he will be able to add his usual genius to proceedings on Sunday remains to be seen.
Joachim Löw endured a fairly forgettable club managerial career in Germany, Turkey and Austria before becoming Jürgen Klinsmann’s assistant upon his appointment in 2004. ‘Jogi’ then took over the reigns when Klinsmann decided to move on in 2006. Since then, the reputations of both the national side and Löw have continued to flourish. In his first tournament as the main man, Germany reached the final of Euro 2008, losing 1-0 to Spain. They suffered the same 1-0 defeat to Spain in the semi-finals of South Africa four years ago, followed by a further last four exit at Euro 2012. Whilst his record is an impressive one, ultimate success still eludes Löw and his side. They’ll hope to put that right on Sunday.
A former midfielder with Leeds and Sheffield United, Alejandro Sabella was assistant to his friend Daniel Passarella after his retirement from playing – coaching Argentina, Parma and Uruguay amongst others. In 2009, Sabella became head coach of Argentine side Estudiantes de La Plata, with whom he won the 2009 Copa Libertadores – the South American Champions’ League. Argentina appointed Sabella as their head coach in 2011, replacing Sergio Batista. The 59 year-old has since faced criticism in the Argentine media for his dour, uninterested manner along with his cautious philosophy. Despite the criticism, Sabella is on the cusp of iconic status in his homeland.
PREDICTION: Germany 2-1 Argentina
The way Germany have been playing, it is hard to see anything but a victory for Die Mannschaft. Argentina will not be as naive as the Brazilians so a high-scoring contest is unlikely. Instead, I expect to see a nervy one-goal margin win for the Germans, probably 1-0 or 2-1, perhaps after extra-time. Argentina’s hopes rest on Messi. If he can isolate the opposition defence, especially left-back Höwedes, Albiceleste could triumph. There is no doubting, however, that the Germans are overwhelming favourites to win a fourth World Cup.
The referee for Sunday’s final is from Italy, read more at http://www.exeweb.com/2014/07/11/brazil-2014-referees-for-the-germany-v-argentina-final/