Posted by News Express | 13 July 2014 | 2,754 times
After a FIFA World Cup full of twists, turns and surprises, there will be a touch of the familiar as the competition reaches its climax this night (Nigerian time). Three-time winners Germany and two-time champions Argentina will lock horns for the third time in the final, as both vie for supremacy at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The tournament showpiece will inevitably spark memories of 1986 and 1990, when the two giants of the game recorded a win apiece. La Albiceleste struck the first blow with a 3-2 victory in Mexico to clinch their most recent World Cup title, before Die Nationalmannschaft exacted revenge with a 1-0 success in Rome four years later. Their third final meeting will be a World Cup first, with only Brazil and Italy having also met twice at this stage, in 1970 and 1994.
Germany, meanwhile, will be gracing the decider for a record eighth time, and their mission will be to become the first European side to triumph on South American soil – echoing the feat achieved on rival terrain by Brazil at Sweden 1958.
Joachim Low’s men will certainly not be short on confidence in Rio de Janeiro, having stunned fans far and wide with a football masterclass in their 7-1 semi-final win over the hosts. They strolled through with a spellbinding combination of ease, power and efficiency, plus an impressive team ethic that owed much to their large Bayern Munich contingent. Germany have started six Bayern players in each game so far, and the strong club links running through the spine of the team have paid dividends.
The European hopefuls will likewise benefit from an additional day’s rest compared to Argentina, who were taken to extra time and penalties in their last-four tie. However, what they do not have is Lionel Messi.
Some have suggested the talismanic forward is not operating at the peak of his powers, but the figures speak for themselves. Not only is he the sole player to have scored more than once from outside the area – registering three times from distance – he has also completed more dribbles than anyone else (82) and stands alone with his quartet of Budweiser Man of the Match awards.
Argentina can likewise count on Javier Mascherano, whose 552 passes so far tell only half the story of a tenacious and courageous player capable of moving mountains for the sake of his team. The 30-year-old has a talent for inspiring his colleagues too, as proved the case with goalkeeper Sergio Romero before the semi-final shoot-out against the Netherlands.
In yesterday’s third-place match, the Netherlands completed the humiliation of Brazil with a 3-0 defeat.
The competition started on June 12 with 32 teams – five from Africa, out of which Nigeria and Algeria posted the best performances by making it to the Round of 16 before gallantly bowing out.
•Partly based on material from fifa.com. Photo shows Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Germany’s Thomas Muller.
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