The finish line is in sight for the two teams who have survived the month-long festival of football that is the World Cup. Brazil 2014 can be celebrated for many great things: the vibrant fans, the extent of attacking football – with the most number of goals scored a clear testament to that, and the sunny disposition left the on the faces of football neutrals all over the world.
On Sunday, there can only be one thing that counts of course: winning. No greater game in world football holds as much significance to winning as the final does. Win it and be lorded as gods, lose and one may never fully recover again. For Germany and Argentina this will be the nirvana of football. The six previous games have built up to this one last hurdle. Winner takes all.
Germany have the pedigree and the experience – built from more than a decade of near misses at the big tournaments. This could be the year and THAT game against home nation Brazil demonstrated the ruthless killer instinct the Germans possess. A solid defence of Hummels and Boateng, marshalled by goalkeeper Neuer provides the foundation for the midfield engine room to power on. Blessed with intelligent players of the ilk of Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Ozil and Müller, albeit without a world class centre forward, this German team are winding up through the gears with perfect timing for the final.
Argentina, of course, is blessed with the mercurial Messi – one of the two best players in the world currently. With a left foot like a wizard’s wand, he’s clearly the danger man that the German defence will need to lock down. Elsewhere the team is average but crucially a team, each working for the man next to him towards one main purpose. Angel Di Maria and Higuain add flair but Messi is the talismanic god-in-the-making. Winning the world cup for his country will secure this fate.
However, a word of caution. One of the standout facts at this World Cup has been its unpredictability. No one would have called Holland smashing Spain at the start of the tournament, or Germany destroying Brazilian hopes so resolutely. Yet it happened. So whether fortune points to Germany or Argentina, the fact is nothing can be expected as it should. That just leaves an intriguing matchup between Europe vs. South America. Game on.
World Cup 2014: Final – KO 20:00 on Sunday 13th July, BBC1 & ITV1