All that stands in the way of a triumphant World Cup title for soccer superpowers Argentina and Germany is a single game.
Either superstar Lionel Messi will claim his first title on the World Cup stage or the balanced attack and stout defense of the German side will emerge victorious. Regardless of the outcome, the entire sporting world is sure to revel in the game itself and the pressure-packed stakes of the final.
Of course, there will be some who are watching the game for more than just the enjoyment of the action. With that in mind, here is a look at the latest betting lines, according to Odds Shark, as of the evening of Wednesday, July 9:
|Odds for World Cup Final|
|Pick||Opening||5 Dimes||Bovada||Book Maker|
While the championship showdown between Argentina and Germany is sure to draw all of the headlines, there is also a consolation match between Brazil and the Netherlands. The schedule and broadcast information for the remaining two fixtures is below:
|Remaining 2014 World Cup Fixtures|
|Game||Date||Time (ET)||Matchup||TV||Live Stream|
|Third-Place Game||Saturday, July 12||4 p.m.||Brazil vs. Netherlands||ESPN||Watch ESPN|
|World Cup Final||Sunday, July 13||3 p.m.||Germany vs. Argentina||ABC||Watch ESPN|
Germany reached the finals by putting forth arguably the most impressive soccer performance in the history of the game when the stakes and location are taken into account. To beat Brazil in Brazil is one thing, but to do it during the World Cup semifinals by the score of 7-1 is quite another.
In fact, Germany scored four times in a six-minute stretch in the first half that sent shock waves of disappointment throughout the entire host country.
Standing across from the mighty Germans Sunday will be an Argentina squad that made it to the finals in the most nerve-wracking way possible. They survived a scoreless showdown with the Netherlands by scoring on all four of their penalty shootout kicks, while goalkeeper Sergio Romero blocked two of the Netherlands’ efforts.
The World Cup final will likely be framed as a showdown between that versatile German attack that just made Brazil’s lackluster defense look silly and the power of Messi and his ability to create for himself and others.
For his part, Messi discussed what a victory would mean, according to an Adidas interview published on AS (via the Press Association, h/t FIFA.com):
As a player winning a World Cup is the best there is. It's something you dream about when you are a kid and it never disappears.
I have asked my Barcelona team-mates Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta and (Gerard) Pique what it is like to lift the trophy, and they couldn't explain. We will do everything to make this dream a reality. To play a World Cup final with the great atmosphere of the Maracana is something what every player dreams of.
Messi is arguably the best player in the world, but Germany’s defense has been incredibly stout throughout the whole World Cup.
The United States, Portugal, France and Algeria looked rather helpless at times against Germany’s ball control, timely tackles and overall poise. Now, the question is whether that same defense can stop or at least contain Messi and the rest of the Argentina attack.
Argentina’s defense may not be as talented as Germany’s, but it will have to bring its A-game against the mighty German side. Argentina did shutout Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands and should have some confidence on that end of the field.
Still, Argentina probably won't be able to rely on a penalty shootout in a scoreless game against Germany.
Messi has scored four of Argentina’s eight goals in the World Cup and assisted on another, and the thought here is that he comes through under the bright lights. This isn’t exactly the first time much will be expected of him in a championship setting, and he will find the back of the net once.
It still won’t be enough.
Germany just have too much momentum on their side after eviscerating Brazil to go along with all of their talented pieces. We haven’t even touched on Manuel Neuer in goal, who has been something of a brick wall throughout the tournament.
Throw in the fatigue factor that could come into play after Argentina played 120 minutes and a penalty shootout an entire 24 hours after Germany played on cruise control against Brazil, and things are certainly looking up for the Germans.
Team will prevail over the superstar on soccer’s brightest stage in an all-time classic.
Prediction: Germany 2, Argentina 1
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