Germany and Argentina have both made it to the 2014 World Cup Final, but after watching their previous performances in their respective semifinal matches, you would think this is a David versus Goliath-type matchup.
Germany absolutely steamrolled Brazil in their semifinal as they put on yet another masterclass performance against an undermanned, yet ripe with quality Brazil team. Germany’s 7-1 victory over Brazil was a record-setting performance as they played like a well-oiled machine, dominating from start to finish. Germany scored four goals in a span of six minutes in the first half to signal that they were heading to the World Cup Final and there would be no nonsense allowed.
Miroslav Klose also set a record of his own by surpassing the Brazilian Ronaldo‘s previous record of 15 total World Cup goals with a tally against Brazil. He was joined on the score-sheet by André Schürrle and Toni Kroos, who each bagged two goals, Sami Khedira and Thomas Müller, who raised his tournament total to five goals, one shy of James Rodriguez for the tournament lead.
The German defense was impeccable as well as they only allowed a goal in stoppage time to Oscar on a counter-attack, but otherwise, held a talented Brazilian attack without a goal. The absence of Neymar was noticeable, but it would not have prevented the drubbing Brazil endured by this German squad. Manuel Neuer was also outstanding in net as he made some remarkable saves when Brazilian players were in on net. His ability with be a crucial element in this final against Argentina.
Argentina survived a tactical chess match with Netherlands and advanced in penalty kicks.
Lionel Messi seemed to be frustrating by the constant man-marking deployed by Dutch manager Louis Van Gaal. If German manager Jogi Low would like to adopt any tactics from that semifinal, one or both of his holding midfielders man-marking Messi should be his first choice. It will not be an easy task, but Khedira’s familiarity with Messi’s style of play from La Liga could come in handy on Sunday.
Argentina should be a bit worried about scoring no goals against a Dutch defense that is certainly a level below the quality of this German squad, especially with Philipp Lahm playing at right back. However, the play of Ezequiel Lavezzi has to be encouraging for manager Alejandro Sabella. His runs towards the end line caused problems for the Dutch, and he should look to attack the German fullbacks, particularly if he is deployed on the right.
The one player who will need to have more of an impact if Argentina are to have any success is Sergio Aguero. Aguero has underwhelmed at this tournament both in a starting role and off the bench. A step up in play from him could have Argentina’s attack in a better rhythm and make life much easier for Messi, Lavezzi and Gonzalo Higuain.
A big X-factor for them as well is the health of Angel Di Maria. Di Maria missed the semifinal due to a thigh injury, and his status for the final is undetermined at this point in time. He is a game-changer when he is in the lineup, and his ability to cut in on his left foot and challenge defenders was sorely missed against the Dutch.
If Messi can get loose for just one moment in this game, it may end up making the difference if the game is still in the balance late. I don’t see that being the case, though. Germany are playing at an unbelievably high level right now and could not have played better in the semifinal. Their attack will be too much for Argentina to handle.
Prediction: Germany 3, Argentina 1.