One of the greatest World Cups in history comes down to a final between two countries with mixed memories of playing against each other for the biggest sporting prize on the planet.
In 1986, Argentina beat Germany in the final in Mexico. Four years later, Germany were crowned world champions after beating the South Americans.
Now they prepare for a third final against each other in a game that pitches the best European side of the tournament against the best from South America, as Argentina look to win at the home of their greatest rivals Brazil.
It is also a match that provides Lionel Messi a chance to seal his position in the pantheon of football greats. He has won everything there is to win at club level, scooped up four Ballon d’Or awards and now stands one match away from emulating Diego Maradona by guiding Argentina to World Cup glory.
Standing in the way of Argentina’s quest for a third World Cup triumph are Germany, who arrive in Rio de Janeiro fresh from a 7-1 massacre of hosts Brazil in the semi-final and brimming with confidence.
Joachim Low’s side will start as slight favourites following the brutal demolition of Brazil and given they have come out on top in their last two World Cup encounters against Argentina, winning on penalties in 2006 and thrashing the side coached by Maradona 4-0 in 2010.
Germany are a ruthless, efficient machine with no obvious weaknesses and several options in every position.
Without a star player in the mould of Messi or Neymar, the Europeans have relied on Thomas Muller to lead their attack. The Bayern Munich man has scored five goals in this World Cup and is one short of drawing level with James Rodriguez to win the Golden Boot, just as he did in South Africa four years ago. He has also never lost a match when playing against Messi.
A low scoring final
The last World Cup finals saw only 1 goal in extra time scored by Spain over Netherlands. Despite 7 goals by Germany in their last game, we don’t expect this game to feature many goals. If anything we saw Argentina playing very cautiously and they might want to play just the same so rather than attacking football that could cost them scoring chances, they will want to prevent odd man rushes going the other way. We expect this game to be under 2.5 goals so if you are a betting person then this is probably the easiest bet you can make in the tournament for the last game. In the last 6 World Cup finals, only 1 game has had 3 goals as the rest were 2 or less and you can see the list of world cup finals scores to compare just how close the game should be.
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
Germany 1 (Howedes) Argentina 3 (Khedira og, Messi, Di Maria), International Friendly, August 2012
Argentina 0 Germany 4 (Muller, Klose, Friedrich), World Cup, July 2010
Germany 0 Argentina 1 (Higuain), International Friendly, March 2010
Germany have won the World Cup three times whereas Argentina have triumphed twice.
Ever since the fall of the Berlin wall, both sides have competed with each other eight times where Argentina won four matches and picked up just one defeat which occurred at the last World Cup.
Germany striker Miroslav Klose became the all-time top scorer in the history of the World Cup last Tuesday as he now counts 16 goals in the competition, one more than Brazil legend Ronaldo.
Bayern Munich player Thomas Muller has picked up 10 goals and six assists in 12 World Cup appearances.
If Argentina win then they will become the oldest World Cup winners ever with an average age of just under 29 – Italy’s 2006 squad holds the record.
The Albiceleste’s superstar Lionel Messi surpassed Diego Maradona in international appearances last Wednesday and now the Barcelona forward will be picking up his 93 national cap.
Germany to win: 5.4
Argentina to win: 12.5
You can also watch the last time these two teams met in a world cup final in 1990 when West Germany beat Argentina to lift the world cup.
[youtube height=”500″ width=”800″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ybj5I44nBnE[/youtube]
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