The 2014 FIFA World Cup final will see Germany battle Argentina in a clash between the best that Europe and South America have to offer. While the Germans have reached the final via creative, attacking flair, the Argentines have been defined by their gritty resolve and defensive solidity.
That's an interesting reversal of many of the traditional stereotypes regarding European and South American football. But regardless of how each team has made it to the final, both nations boast talented players recognisable to all football fans.
Stars such as Germany trio Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller and Sami Khedira will attempt to thwart the mercurial brilliance of Argentina ace Lionel Messi and his striker partner, Gonzalo Higuain.
Here's the full TV schedule for the final which will be hosted at Brazil's world-famous Maracana Stadium:
|2014 FIFA World Cup Final Full TV Schedule|
|Date||Match||TV and Time UK||TV Time US||Stream UK||Stream US|
|Sunday, July 13||Germany vs. Argentina||BBC One / ITV, 8 p.m. (BST)||ABC, 3 p.m. (ET)||BBCSport.co.uk / ITV Player||WATCH ABC|
|BBC.co.uk / ITV.co.uk, ABCNews.com and FrontRow.ESPN.com|
As already stated, Germany have won most of the plaudits on their way to the final. The adulation is due to their brand of fluid and expansive football.
That was never more obvious than during the 7-1 semi-final demolition of host nation Brazil. While the current Brazil team is mediocre, with little business getting so close to the final, Germany's emphatic win was still hugely impressive.
The attacking contingent, featuring players like Ozil, Khedira and midfield ace Toni Kroos, played some wonderful combination football. They ruthlessly crafted their goals, forcing and capitalising on Brazilian errors.
Kroos, in particular, really took his opportunity to shine, as Squawka Football Noted:
The semi-final thumping was a nice bookend for a run to the final that began with a 4-0 trouncing of Portugal in Group G. Here's a classification of Germany's latest form ahead of the final.
Germany Latest Form Guide
|Germany's Latest Form Ahead of the Final|
|Germany vs. Algeria||Last-16||2-1||Andre Schuerrle, Ozil|
|France vs. Germany||Quarter-final||0-1||Mats Hummels|
|Brazil vs. Germany||Semi-final||1-7||Thomas Mueller, Miroslav Klose, Kroos (2), Khedira, Schuerrle (2)|
The results reveal how the Germans made hard work of stubborn opposition in the form of Algeria and France. There certainly wasn't much free-flowing fluency to their play in either contest.
However, both results showed the resilience and tournament savvy this nation has embodied in major international competitions.
But if the flair was missing during the last-16 and quarter-final stages, it returned with a vengeance for the last-four meeting with Brazil. The Germans destroyed the once-undisputed kings of the beautiful game with a breathtaking display of fast-paced, creative ingenuity.
As journalist Jan Aage Fjortoft pointed out, this mauling will live long in the memory:
The only question ahead of the final is have Germany peaked one game too soon?
Argentina Latest Form Guide
|Argentina's Latest Form Ahead of the Final|
|Argentina vs. Switzerland||Last-16||1-0||Di Maria|
|Argentina vs. Belgium||Quarter-final||1-0||Higuain|
|Netherlands vs. Argentina||Semi-final||0-0||Won 2-4 on Penalties|
Winning is the only thing Argentina's form shares with that of their final opponents. Despite being blessed with an enviable array of attacking talent, the South American team has never quite sparkled during this tournament.
Injuries to Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria, half of a fabled quartet also featuring Messi and Higuain, have not helped. But the truth is that only Messi has consistently delivered the goods for his nation in Brazil.
The genius of close control and weaving runs has been a constant menace to opponents. Messi is the man Germany will most fear in Sunday's final.
The latest form makes it hard to pick against Germany. The European heavyweight is simply playing fantastically-imaginative attacking football.
However, don't discount Argentina's motivation for lifting the trophy on Brazilian soil, particularly at the Maracana. BBC Sport writer Phil McNulty has perfectly described what that would mean for the Argentines:
There was no mistaking the added pleasure the prospect of their captain Lionel Messi lifting the World Cup in Brazil's own iconic arena would give Argentina. It would be a show of sporting strength on enemy territory that would sustain them for generations.
With that kind of motivation, Messi could be lethal. But he'll need more support than he has been getting in recent games.
Without it, Germany's efficiency with the ball could deny Messi the chance to dominate this final.
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