Sports Editor Jack Pethick predicts and analyses the key areas in what should be an epic clash in the World Cup final this Sunday.
Last night saw Argentina join Germany in this Sunday’s World Cup final, with a 4-2 victory on penalties against the Louis Van Gall’s Netherlands side. There could not have been more of a contrast in excitement between the two semi-final’s with one seeing 3 goals in just 15 minutes and the other failing to produce a goal in over 120 minutes. So what chances do both Germany and Argentina have in winning this Sunday?
Tuesday’s game was by far one of the most extraordinary games I have ever seen in my life. Germany’s 7-1 thumping of Brazil was the highest ever score recorded in a World Cup semi-final and one of the most embarrassingly awful displays in Brazil’s footballing history. It was one of those games where it was hard to tell wether Germany were playing exceptionally or wether Brazil’s defending really was that bad. Nevertheless as the phrase goes: ‘you can only beat what’s in front of you’, and Germany certainly did that. Germany’s pressing and build up play (especially for the first 3 goals) was exceptional to watch at times and unlike a lot of other nations that have been seen this tournament the German’s are certainly a team, and not a group of individuals. Furthermore, the German team is a squad desperate to finish the job, with Germany tasting defeat in numerous semi-finals and finals over the last decade; experience which should put them in good stead to finally finish the job this time.
Argentina have been quite frankly limping through this tournament so far, many would say that’s the sign of a good team, but in this instance I feel it hasn’t been. In a group which featured Iran, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Nigeria, they failed to win any group game by more than 1 goal. In the last 16 round they only just beat an average Switzerland in extra time 1-0 – a team which lost 5-2 to France bear in mind. The Belgium and Netherlands games were won by a wonder goal and from penalties: hardly convincing stuff then. However, for all the criticism I may give them, they are nevertheless there in the final and I doubt that any Argentinian could care less
about the fashion in which they got there. Another upside for them is that Messi has recently started to show flashes of brilliance again, and if he really is on song on Sunday there is no question as to who will win. Of course Argentina have the extra incentive of winn
ing the World Cup in their biggest rivals own back yard.
There is no question that the World Cup will be won and lost in midfield. If Lahm and Schweinsetiger stop Messi, they will probably win the game. If Mascherano and Gago stop Müller and Kroos they will probably be close to winning the game. However, this is also for me the main difference between the two teams: the Germans can still cause Argentina problems even if one or two key players like Kroos and Müller have a bad game (although they rarely have so far this World Cup) they still can hurt the Argentinians i
n other areas, whereas Argentina don’t have this in their team. This point was arguably shown last night by the fact that Argentina didn’t score in normal or added time because the likes of Messi, Aguero and Di Maria were either missing or having a bad game, and therefore, I really think the final this Sunday will show a team versus a group of individuals. Either way it certainly will be an incredible game
, and- like many of you I’m sure- I will have no idea what to do when it’s all over.