While many folks probably thought Brazil would reach the World Cup final on their home soil, Germany and Argentina were always likely finalists if the hosts couldn't live up to those expectations. And truly, it's setting up to be a fantastic final.
There is star power. There are contrasting styles between the teams. There is a battle of the continents. It's juicy stuff, folks.
Below, we'll take a look at the viewing information for the tournament, along with the odds for each team and a few of the match's top storylines. Let's break this contest down.
Viewing Guide and Odds
|World Cup Final Information|
|When||Where||Watch||Germany Odds||Argentina Odds|
|Sunday, July 13 at 3 p.m. ET||Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro||ABC||+139||+248|
|Odds via Oddshark.com|
Will a European Team Finally Win a World Cup on South American Soil?
It's never been done before, but if ever there was a team capable of pulling off the feat, it's this German side. John Cross of the Mirror, for one, is hoping just that happens:
In a way, there would be some poetic justice to Germany winning the tournament. After all, to get to the final, they had to knock off Brazil in the semifinals, the host nation. Beating Argentina in the final would ensure that Germany defeated the top two South American sides in this tournament.
On South American soil, that would be quite the feat.
Will Lionel Messi Exit Diego Maradona's Shadow?
In a way, he already has. All that's left to do is actually win the title and we can finally start calling Messi Argentina's finest ever player (and perhaps the world's best, in general). ESPN Stats & Information offers this telling comparison of the two:
While Messi hasn't offered a Hand of God moment or the blinding run that Maradona gave us against England, he has had more than a few moments of genius. Who will ever forget his game-winner in stoppage time against Iran, or his perfectly weighted (and unselfish) pass to Angel Di Maria, who won the game for Argentina in extra time against Switzerland?
And if Argentina are to beat Germany, it will likely be because Messi has a few more moments of brilliance in him. For much of this tournament, the Argentines have defended well and waited for Messi to strike. And for much of this tournament, it's been a game plan that has succeeded.
We'll see if Messi can lead them one last time.
A Familiar Matchup
How many times have Germany and Argentina done this little dance before? Quite a few times, as ESPN Stats & Information notes:
OptaJoe has more:
With the teams splitting their previous finals, however, this is quite the opportunity for bragging rights between the nations. While that won't affect the play on the pitch, it's certainly a fun storyline to keep in mind.
The Potential for a Tactical Masterpiece
Both of these teams want to play a different game. Germany want to be proactive and dictate the style of play, both controlling possession and supporting the defense with the midfield pivot of Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
For the Germans, it's all about balance. Forward Miroslav Klose described the country's style of play to Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph by saying, "We are a unit, we super-blend in training and it shows on the pitch."
If you give Germany any room to operate going forward, the attacking midfield trio of Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller and Toni Kroos will absolutely skewer you. Just ask the Brazilians.
On the other hand, Argentina are looking to play classic counter-attacking football, with a Messi-esque twist. The Argentines are more than happy to stay behind the ball, disrupting the midfield flow of their opponent and taking the spaces teams are accustomed to having and turning them into cracks.
But once they do recover the ball, they quickly get it to Messi, who has free rein in the midfield to either dribble and create his own shot or create for one of his teammates. It's an effective strategy in large part because a player like Messi only needs one moment to completely change a game.
For Germany, it offers an interesting conundrum. If a player like Khedira pushes up through the midfield, Messi has more room to operate. If the Germans sink back further into the midfield, asking Kroos to drop deeper as well—the Dutch did this with Wesley Sneijder—they can squeeze Messi's operating space but in turn may leave their own attackers isolated and unable to make an impact.
It will be interesting to see which team can dictate their style of play and execute the game plan. The Germans, on paper, are the stronger team. But you can't account for the brilliance of Messi on paper, something the Germans will be acutely aware of heading into this match.