Argentina heads into the World Cup final on the heels of a cautiously played draw with the Netherlands that was decided in a shootout.
However, while they are playing in Brazil with a measure of home-field advantage and boast the world’s best player, they are the betting underdog facing Germany, who dismantled host Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals.
Argentina is a significant underdog in the World Cup final, currently sitting at 5-2 at most sportsbooks tracked by Odds Shark. The Germans were 13-10 with a draw line (after 90 minutes) priced at 9-4.
Here are five reasons why Argentina can pull off the upset and win the World Cup final.
While Argentina is known for their attack, featuring Lionel Messi and company, the defense is the reason why they are in the final. In the three knockout-stage matches, Argentina has not allowed a single goal.
In the semis, they shut down the Netherlands' solid attack and kept Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben from scoring. Only one of the past six World Cup finals has seen more than two goals, so under bettors are focusing on the lines ahead of Sunday’s match.
While Lionel Messi has not scored in the last three matches, he leads Argentina in goals scored for the tournament and will get chances against Germany. He also has an outside shot at winning the Golden Boot if he can score twice, and he is the third betting choice at 12-1 to win the prestigious trophy.
Also, with Messi being the focus for the German defense, it affords other attacking players space around the box. That is good news for struggling Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero.
Midfield Will Step Up
While Argentina is not as strong as Germany in the midfield, and they did not play great in that area against the Dutch, they have the talent and form to step up in the final. Their speed in the middle of the pitch will be key, and they must disrupt the German passing lanes.
If they can get Angel Di Maria back from a thigh injury, the midfield becomes faster and more dynamic, but that appears to be a long shot.
History Says so
The World Cup has been hosted in South America four times, and a South American team has won on each occasion (Uruguay in 1930 and 1950, Brazil in 1962, Argentina in 1978).
Home-continent advantage meant nothing for Brazil against Germany, but Argentina can get the crowd on its side with some early offensive flourishes.
Messi leads an Argentine attack that is mostly small and fast, and they can give the bigger and more physical Germany back line problems. Messi was thwarted in the match with the Netherlands and constantly flanked by one or two defenders.
But he has the skill to shed such attention and generate scoring chances for himself and his teammates.