So here we are a fantastic final of Germany v Argentina, and it will be the third time these two nations have contested the finale of a World Cup. Europe vs South America – BRING IT ON 🙂
Germany – Route to the final
Portugal – W4-0 – Portugal did self-destruct, but the Germans performed like World Champions, A Thomas Muller hat-trick the highlight.
Ghana – D2-2 – A drop down in standard on their previous performance, ahead, then behind but classic German spirit got them back into the game (thanks to a record equalling goal by Miroslav Klose), which they may even have won but for some errant finishing.
USA – W1-0 – A match the Germans controlled on the whole and deservedly won eventually piercing the USA defence with a smart strike from that man Muller.
Algeria – W2-1 (after extra time) – If Algeria could finish the Germans would have been packing their bags. Germany then controlled the extra time period with goals from Schurrle and Ozil. Classic German efficiency to the fore again even after an uninspiring performance.
France – W1-0 – A tactical masterclass from manager Joachim Low, subtle shuffling of the pack in defence, midfield and up front to stifle the French worked a treat. A great header from a freekick by Mats Hummels was the crucial moment and yet more German efficiency was then the winner as they shut the French out with ease.
Brazil – W7-1 – Four goals in six first half minutes, five goals before the half hour ended this game as a contest – a ruthless German demolition exposed an average Brazil side who were shown up as lucky to even be in the semi finals after being on the positive side of poor officiating. Germany marched on to the final with ease.
Key player – Thomas Muller – so much more than just a goalscorer. He is the young heartbeat of this German side never giving defenders and midfielders he is up against any peace. Can play in any position along the front line and wide and is still effective. Five goals already in the competition as he chases a second successive World Cup Golden Boot. An all round top player.
Notable mention – Matt Hummels – a brilliant defender, who compensates for his lack of pace with a keen eye and brilliant positioning – he likes a block and is usually in the right place at the right time all the time.
Unbeaten throughout the tournament, the Germans have as usual peaked at key moments. Extra time against Algeria, strangling the game once ahead against the French, then the remarkable destruction of the hosts in the semi final, albeit against average opponents, but you still have to do what is needed, and boy did they do that AND some. Joachim Low seems to have now settled on a first eleven, the moving of captain Philipp Lahm from midfield to right back along with Matt Hummels’ return has tightened up their defence (and we are seeing far less of Manuel Neuer charging from his penalty area). This has allowed the German manager to treble up Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos in a strong, mobile and silky midfield. Up front Miroslav Klose, now the highest goalscorer in World Cup history, along with the aformentioned Thomas Muller and elusive Mesut Ozil are seemingly scoring and creating at will judging by their semi-final performance. I have not even mentioned game changers off the bench such as Schurrle, Gotze, Podolski and Draxler. They have to be the favourites to win in Rio on Sunday, however they know as well as anyone doing on the pitch (and ending 18 years without a major trophy / 24 without a World Cup win – www.biggishmouthblog.com/biggishmouth-world-cup-germans-lost-killer-instinct-mojo) – is all that matters and a 1-7 win in the last four means nothing if their opponents are lifting the trophy come Sunday.
Argentina – Route to the final
Bosnia and Herzegovina – W2-1 – An unconvincing performance lit up by Lionel Messi sealing the game for the South Americans.
Iran – W1-0 – See above – Yet another insipid performance, Argentina saved by Lionel Messi’s stunning stoppage time winner.
Nigeria – W3-2 – A much improved performance, though still relying on Messi, who scores twice. Defensive issues, but comfortable in the end, could and should have been had goals.
Switzerland – W1-0 (after extra time) – Penalties seemed inevitable after a listless performance by Argentina and a strategic master plan from Switz manager, Ottmar Hitzfeld. However some, yes you’ve guessed it ‘Messi’ magic set things up for Di Maria to snatch it very late in extra time!!!!!!!
Belgium – W1-0 – Not your archetypal performance for Argentina, but at least one of their strikers scored. Higuain’s early goal was the difference as the Argentine’s game management skills of the highest order came to the fore. Job done and onto the semi-finals.
Holland – D0-0 (won 4-2 on penalties) – In complete contrast to the first semi-final, this was two equally matched teams who basically cancelled each other out in a dour game. Only a couple of clear cut chances were created, but it was always going to go to penalties, which the Argentines prevailed in thanks to two saves from goalkeeper Sergio Romero to secure a fourth appearance in the World Cup final for Argentina.
Key Player – Has to be Lionel Messi, the captain and inspiration for his side, he has not looked at his best in the knockout rounds – (he was virtually non-exsistent in the semi-final) but his presence lifts the other players in the team. Four goals and now the stage is set and legendary status awaits- Messi in the World Cup Final over to you – potential immortality awaits.
Notable mention – Javier Mascherano – If Messi is the flair and the skill, Mascherano is the battler and steel – the previous captain of the national team before then new manager, Alejandro Sabella, decided upon Lionel Messi as the new leader, however this has made no difference to his commitment to the cause, so much so he is known as the ‘captain without the armband’. In the semi-final he was immense (previously his performances had been excellent anyway – but stepped up a notch against the Dutch) and with Messi for once not having any influence, he was the main man and dragged them through, ultimately via penalties to the World Cup Final.
Argentina came into this tournament as second favourites to the hosts (they would have been at the top of the betting lists if the World Cup was in any other country than Brazil in my opinion). With the mercurial Lionel Messi as their catalyst, they were expected to sweep through this tournament with a mix of flair and fancy football. However they have actually fought their way to the final by incredible stealth. Six wins and a penalty shootout victory in the semi final sounds like serene progress, but they have not won any game by more than a goal, and in the knockout phase have only scored twice in regulation play, though they have tightened up at the back with no goals conceded from the ‘Round of 16’ onwards. The team is built around Messi, to get the best out of him, though he has been peripheral on occasions, especially in the semi final where he became more non-existent as the game wore on, though when it was needed , he put away his penalty in the shootout – crucially after a Dutch player had missed their first one. Argentina like Germany are on a drought without a major trophy, 21 years since a Copa America triumph in 1993 – its 28 years since they won the World Cup in Mexico 1986 (ironically against the then West Germany) in a humdinger of a game – my personal favourite World Cup final. One of them will be disappointed and the ‘White and Blue Skiers’ (La Albiceleste) will not want it to be them, especially as they are on their biggest rivals soil and know how much this will hurt the hosts if they were to be victorious in the Maracana.
Ok prediction time – so it will either be Germany joining Italy as four time winners or Argentina joining Germany as three time winners. They have met six times in World Cup tournaments (twice as West Germany). The European side have won four matches (one being the 1990 World Cup Final), the South Americans one (the 1986 World Cup Final), with one stalemate. They have actually met in the last two World Cups, both times at the Quarter Final stage. In 2006 the Germans won on penalties after a late equalizer was scored, helped by Argentine manager, Jose Pekerman’s, strange substitutions that allowed them back into the game (a certain 19 year old Lionel Messi never made it off the bench) and in 2010 the two times champions were thrashed 4-0 in a match where the Germans were devastating on the counter and Argentina, and their manager, Diego Maradona, had no answer to this.
If you have been keeping up with my blog you will be aware that I tipped Argentina as my winners – www.biggishmouthblog.com/biggishmouth-world-cup-brazil-expects . The Germans have to be the favourites, firstly because of performances, the fact their semi-final was like a friendly game and they have had an extra days rest. However in a one off match anything can happen and aside from Messi, Argentina do have some top players especially up front who have not been firing consistently, Higuain and Aguero to name two – I still find it amazing that only one goal has come from their strikers. I think in Rio, with a massive support behind them – (Rio will become a mini Buenos Aires) – no matter what the authorities say, or try to do to restrict, the Argies will feel like they are at home. So I am sticking with my tip (I have to really!!!!!!!) , with the South Americans to turn on the flair and win the final by 3-1 – yes Messi will be the man who makes the difference – maybes even a hat-trick #clutchingwiththatonemethinks but happy to go for the Argentinians to win a wonderful 2014 World Cup.
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