World Cup 2014 Final: Germany vs. Argentina Live Stream, Start Time and Preview

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World Cup 2014 Final: Germany vs. Argentina Live Stream, Start Time and Preview
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Germany and Argentina outlasted the competition to reach the 2014 FIFA World Cup final on Sunday, July 13. For Argentina, the word "outlasted" is literally true.

The South American nation needed extra time to beat Switzerland by a single goal in the last 16. Coach Alejandro Sabella's team then survived a 90-minute battle of attrition against Belgium by the same score in the quarter-final. The Argentines needed a penalty shootout to beat the Netherlands at the semi-final stage.

By contrast, Germany's progress has been assured by creative and fluid attacking football. Those qualities were never more evident than when the Germans flattened host nation Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final.

Here's the relevant live stream and kick-off information ahead of the final:

 

Live Stream: BBCSport.co.uk, ITV Player / WATCH ABC

Start Time: 8 p.m. BST / 3 p.m. ET

 

Preview

Argentina and Germany are familiar foes at this stage of the World Cup; they were opponents in consecutive finals in 1986 and 1990.

A Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina won the first meeting, surviving a furious West Germany comeback to win 3-2. Four years later, the Germans were successful, winning 1-0.

David Cannon/Getty Images
Germany bested Argentina in the 1990 final.

This final could be just as cagey as 1990's version. Argentina's defensive resolve will ensure a tight game. Sabella's team hasn't been breached since their final Group F game against Nigeria—a 3-2 win.

Often-maligned veteran Martin Demichelis has been a key figure. The Manchester City centre-back is a smart and steady presence at the heart of the Argentina back four.

But as good as Demichelis has been, deep-lying midfielder Javier Mascherano is just as significant to his nation's defensive solidity. The FC Barcelona destroyer was his country's most influential player in the gruelling semi-final against the Dutch.

Charles Reynolds of The Independent credited Mascherano with nullifying the Netherlands' chief threat, wide forward Arjen Robben:

Much as he does at Barcelona, Mascherano fulfils a libero role for Argentina—taking the ball from the central defenders, stepping into their place should they advance and, crucially, offering a third dimension to the harassing of Robben.

With the Bayern Munich man on the right wing, he had Marcos Rojo for company and the industrious Ezequiel Lavezzi in front of him whenever the Dutch had possession, and should the ball find its way to Robben, Mascherano was invariably on hand to close all remaining avenues. The Dutch wingman was limited to a single completed pass in the first 45 minutes.

But while Mascherano was able to help corral Robben, he will find the going tougher against Germany. That's because the Germans have many more options who can swarm on a defence.

Julian Finney/Getty Images
Javier Mascherano took away the opposition's lone threat in the semi-final.

While Netherlands were a one-man attacking force for much of this tournament, the Germans have been the polar opposite. They have consistently challenged defenders with multiple late-breaking runners.

Those runners usually come from midfield areas, where Germany has an embarrassment of riches. Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil dominated the semi-final.

Midfield quality can inspire Germany past another South American opponent:

But if there is one potential undoing for the Germans, it is the health of dominant central defender Mats Hummels. The peerless stopper is battling to overcome a knee injury, per Joe Krishnan of The Independent:

And while Hummels is undergoing treatment in order to be fit for Sunday's final, it is believed that he may not recover in time to be fit for Sunday's final at the Estadio Maracana.

Hummels admitted he has endured problems with the injury but hopes to be back in contention soon, although Per Mertesacker is set to deputise if the centre-half does not recover.

If Hummels can't make it for the final, or is simply less than fully fit, the Germany defence is in trouble. While Per Mertesacker enjoyed a solid season at club level for Premier League team Arsenal, he could find it difficult to contain Lionel Messi.

The Argentine mini marvel is at his best when twisting and weaving past defenders at pace. Mertesacker is notoriously slow, particularly on the turn. Messi is exactly the kind of player who can give the towering Gunners defender fits.

Messi has been in marvellous form during this tournament and is certainly good enough to decide this game in an instant. He'll also have some extra motivation, provided by the prospect of helping his nation lift the World Cup on Brazilian soil.

A determined Messi could be too much even for this Germany team to handle at the famous Maracana Stadium. The Europeans' best hope will be to use their craft and intelligence in midfield to keep the ball away from Argentina's star performer.

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