After a month of thrilling action in Brazil, the 2014 World Cup will finally come to a conclusion when Germany take on Argentina.
Germany have had an up-and-down tournament so far, struggling against Ghana and Algeria but stepping up in a big way in the semifinals. Their 7-1 domination of Brazil showed why the squad is so dangerous heading into the finals.
On the other hand, Argentina have been much more consistent by winning all of their matches by one goal heading into the semifinals. At that stage, they needed penalty kicks to advance past the Netherlands.
This sets up an exciting championship match between two elite squads with contrasting styles, featuring some of the biggest stars in the sport. Here is a quick guide to make sure you do not miss a second of the action in Brazil.
Who will win?
When: Sunday, July 13
Where: Estadio Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Kick-Off Time: 3 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. BST
Live Stream: ESPN3
Odds (via OddsShark.com): Argentina (+264), Germany (+132), Draw (+220)
Best Player vs. Best Team
Oliver Holt of the Daily Mirror breaks down what makes this final so interesting:
Terrific final in store. A fine Germany team plus theatre of Messi and Argentina in the Maracana. Not going to be much fun for Brazilians— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) July 9, 2014
Lionel Messi has proved time and again that he is among the top goalscorers in the world, always capable of creating an opportunity for himself no matter who is defending him. He has also done a solid job in this tournament of making plays for others, something that has become more important with Angel di Maria out.
Despite this ability, Germany have talent everywhere on the pitch and will do their best to keep Messi in check.
Defender Benedikt Howedes noted that the squad was able to handle Cristiano Ronaldo as well in a 4-0 win over Portugal, according to The Daily Star:
Messi is one of the best players in the world, but just as I said before the Portugal game when we faced Ronaldo, we have to defend as a team.
We have to stifle his opportunities to score goal and create dangerous situations.
If Messi is even slowed down, it will give Germany a huge advantage. They have enough ability to make plays on the attack with numerous players who can score, and this will allow them to come away with an easy win in this matchup.
Thomas Muller Looking for Second Golden Boot
There are a number of people in this match possibly looking to secure a Golden Ball award as the top player in the tournament.
According to the Associated Press (via Fox Sports), Argentina's Messi, Di Maria and Javier Mascherano are on the shortlist for the award, as well as Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm and Thomas Muller from Germany.
While all these players can perform their way into winning this award, only one of them has a realistic chance of winning the Golden Boot, given to the top scorer at the World Cup.
Muller needs just one goal to match James Rodriguez of Colombia with six for the tournament. However, his three assists will be enough to secure the prestigious award for the second time in his young career.
Fox Soccer points out how good the German forward has been to this point:
Henry Winter of the Daily Telegraph notes that he could someday become the all-time leader in goals at the World Cup:
Good finish, shocking defending. Kroos corner, Muller finish. 5th goal this #WorldCup, 10 in two tournaments, could challenge Klose/Ronaldo— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) July 8, 2014
You can imagine he will be happy with just a win, but getting that one extra goal will certainly be a nice bonus.
While Messi and Muller will take the headlines as the true goalscorers, this match will be won in the midfield.
As WhoScored.com notes, pretty much everyone in the midfield for Germany is coming off a big match:
GRAPHIC: World Cup 2014 Semi-Finals Highest Rated XI pic.twitter.com/RvD6A9QurT— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 10, 2014
The defensive-midfield duo of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira know how to control possession, while Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil have done a great job of creating opportunities on the attack for teammates.
These players will make sure Germany control the pace of the match, limiting chances for Argentina while giving themselves good looks near the net.
Messi will likely find a way to create a goal either for himself or a teammate, but it will not be enough to stop Germany from winning the World Cup.
Prediction: Germany 2, Argentina 1
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