The 2014 FIFA World Cup final between Germany and Argentina should be a fine way to cap what has generally been a thrilling tournament. Matches in Brazil have on the whole been exciting, with plenty of goals and incident to keep fans and pundits talking.
This final has the potential to provide ample amounts of both. Germany could take care of the goals, given their free-scoring exploits throughout the competition.
The squad is brimming with confidence following a 7-1 demolition of hosts Brazil in the semi-final. Players such as forward Thomas Mueller certainly haven't been shy about anticipating victory. Per Reuters UK:
I’ve been telling friends back in Germany on the phone that we’re going all out here so that you can keep having those big barbecue parties in Germany to celebrate during the best time of the year in Germany.
I’m not expecting that we’ll be ahead 5-0 at half time again like against Brazil even though that would be nice.
It could end up being a tight match like against Algeria or France. But it doesn’t matter. We know what we have to do.
Keeping their confidence in check could be Germany's biggest challenge in the final. Of course, Argentina can help do that for them by playing the role of spoiler.
Coach Alejandro Sabella's team has been stout throughout the tournament, having not conceded a single goal during the knockout phase. But Sabella's toughest challenge will be crafting a way to contain Germany's deadly midfield runners.
Stream Information and Kick-Off Time
Here's the relevant stream information plus kick-off time for the final:
Stream Information: BBCSport.co.uk, ITV Player / WATCH ABC
Kick-Off Time: 8 p.m. BST / 3 p.m. ET
One of the more interesting aspects is the attacking power of both teams. On paper, Argentina are the stronger with more marquee individuals.
However, the Germans have been considerably more potent. Here's a closer look at the contrasting dynamics of the finalists in attack.
Germany's Goal-Sharers vs. Argentina's Solo Master
There are many quality players making up Germany's midfield and forward lines. Stars such as Mueller, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Andre Schurrle pose defences a myriad of problems. One of the reasons they are so effective is a strong rapport, one established through the familiarity of having played together so long.
Germany have certainly taken a sharing approach to finding the net at this World Cup, as BBC Sport has highlighted:
Muller is Germany's leading scorer with five goals at this tournament, but Joachim Low's men are anything but a one-man band.
A further seven Germans have also scored, and the likes of Miroslav Klose, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Andre Schurrle could just as easily prove Maracana match-winners.
Kroos, Ozil and Schurrle have all found the net during this competition. The latter has proved to be a ruthlessly efficient super-sub.
Chelsea forward Schurrle struck twice in the second half of the rout of Brazil to add some gloss to an already hugely impressive scoreline. He also bagged Germany's first goal in the 2-1 last-16 win over Algeria.
What Schurrle offers is more direct pace than many of his national team counterparts. That makes him a dangerous outlet for Germany's intricate combination play.
If he gets on the field in the final, Schurrle could make a decisive impact. His pace can certainly trouble a physical but cumbersome Argentina defence featuring Martin Demichelis and Ezequiel Garay.
The most accomplished member of Germany's forward line is undoubtedly veteran striker Miroslav Klose. He has become a history maker at this tournament, earning the top spot on his country's all-time scoring charts. Klose is sure to chase more history in the final.
An intriguing X-factor for the Germans is provided by energetic midfield powerhouse Sami Khedira. His late runs from the middle to supplement forward breaks usually give Germany a man spare in attack.
With Argentina likely focused on so many others, Khedira could have the freedom to do some real damage.
If there are up to six players who will worry Argentina, there's only one attacker Germany will be chiefly concerned with. That's diminutive dynamo Lionel Messi.
He's been his nation's main attacking force throughout this tournament. Messi has netted four goals, although he hasn't scored since the group stages.
He could miss the creative influence of Angel Di Maria, injured for the semi-final and likely to miss the final. However, the return of Sergio Aguero could be a boost.
The Manchester City striker could partner Messi, per Konstantinos Lianos of The Independent:
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella saw Real Madrid player Angel Di Maria return to light training but remains extremely doubtful to start after suffering from a thigh injury. However, Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero has completely recovered and could start instead of Ezequiel Lavezzi or even Gonzalo Higuain.
With so many attacking threats from Germany, it might be an idea for Sabella to play a three-pronged attack, featuring Messi, Higuain and Aguero. That could at least keep a couple of Germany's midfielders back to support the defence.
However, ultimately this final will be about what Messi can do on the biggest stage of all. If he's at his best, the Germans are in trouble.
But if Germany control Messi, the European nation will win its first World Cup since 1990.
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