Key Tactical Battles That Will Shape Germany's Clash with Argentina

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Key Tactical Battles That Will Shape Germany's Clash with Argentina
Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Germany will now play Argentina in the final of the World Cup on Sunday night in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, at the world-famous Maracana stadium. 

Following a nervous penalty shootout with the Netherlands on Wednesday night to decide who would play Joachim Low's team, Argentina once again did just enough to overcome their opponents and move on to the next stage of the competition. 

History is inevitable when these two sides clash in just a few days' time. Either Germany will become the first European team to win a World Cup in South America, or Argentina will lift the famous trophy in their rival's own backyard. 

As such, each player in both sides will have to be at his best. A career-defining performance will be the bare minimum for these professionals as they come up against some of the best players in the world.

Now let's take a look at some of the key battles in this coming game.  

 

Lionel Messi vs. Benedikt Hoewedes

Frank Augstein/Associated Press

One of the more troubling aspects of Germany's defence will, of course, be the fill-in left-back, Benedikt Hoewedes, who will undoubtedly be up against the likes of Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria for the duration of the game. 

It's the Barcelona star that will trouble Low the most, though. Although the South American side haven't been very prolific at this World Cup, Messi has still managed to score four goals and create an assist in just six games. The attacking midfielder is still very much the best player in the world and has at times dragged this team to the final, kicking and screaming in his wake. 

Although despite looking shaky at first, Hoewedes has actually grown into his role for Germany and looked as solid as any of Low's back line against Brazil on Tuesday and France in the previous round.

Where most full-backs prefer to get forward and often leave their flanks exposed, Hoewedes happily slots in beside Mats Hummels and keeps the left flank protected from counter-attacks. This converted centre-back may not be much use in attacks, but he may just be the perfect defensive obstacle for Messi's wing play. 

 

Toni Kroos vs. Javier Mascherano

Francois Xavier Marit/Associated Press

With three assists in the World Cup thus far, only Thomas Mueller stands above Kroos as the best playmaker still left in the tournament. 

The Bayern Munich central midfielder has been excellent for Germany throughout the competition and finally got his just reward with two goals on Tuesday night in the demolishing of Brazil. Despite being just 24 years old, Kroos is already a vital player for Germany and undoubtedly their most obvious route to goal.

However, standing between the German midfielder and World Cup success will be none other than Javier Mascherano, the midfield enforcer, who has up until now proved to be as pragmatic and solid in defence as Messi has been daring and prolific in front of goal. 

Of the two remaining teams, no player makes more tackles per game than the Barcelona central defender. And with 2.2 interceptions per game, Mascherano can also prove to be a perfect springboard to launch any Argentinian counter-attack.

Germany will not only have to ensure that Kroos can effectively overcome Mascherano, but also make sure the Argentinian midfielder doesn't steal the ball in vulnerable parts of the pitch. 

 

Thomas Mueller vs. Marco Rojo 

Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

In an odd kind of way, Mueller perfectly represents exactly what this German side are all about. Perhaps not producing the most notable, flashiest style of football, and not the most physically intimidating in the world, but when you put them on a football pitch, they just work.

Like the sporting anomaly that Mueller truly is, five goals and three assists in six games makes the Bayern forward Germany's top marksman and definitive big-game player. As he has shown countless times throughout this World Cup, the forward suddenly appears with a goal whenever Germany need it most—a trick he'll undoubtedly be desperate to deploy against Argentina on Sunday night. 

The man tasked with stopping him will probably be 24-year-old defender Marcos Rojo, Sporting Lisbon's central defender-turned-left-back, who has enjoyed a relatively impressive competition to this point. 

Unlike Hoewedes, Rojo is a very athletic defender and doesn't look out of place on the wing at all. As well as darting runs to aid his winger in attack, Rojo will fancy his chances against Mueller in the air and when the Bayern forward is running directly at him. 

Whether or not Mueller can overcome such a foe is something we'll just have to wait to see.

It's Germany vs. Argentina on Sunday night; two teams desperate for success with the players capable of achieving just that. 

 

All stats used in this article were retrieved from Whoscored.com

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