World Cup 2014 Final: Expected Starting XIs, Team News and Prediction

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World Cup 2014 Final: Expected Starting XIs, Team News and Prediction
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Germany and Argentina have each ridden their share of injury setbacks and absences en route to claiming their spots in Sunday's 2014 World Cup final, and team selection will once again play a crucial role in deciding this year's champion.

Tactics and strategy are scrutinised on a wider scale than ever before in football, but Joachim Low and Alejandro Sabella have so far been able to stand up to any blockades thrown in their path.

Ahead of Sunday's climax, we provide all the latest team news in anticipation of the crunch clash, along with line-up projections and a prediction as to how this story will unfold.

 

Team News and Expected Line-Ups

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Shkodran Mustafi's tournament-ending thigh injury will continue to have an impact on Germany's defence this Sunday, with Philipp Lahm likely to retain his place at right-back at the expense of Per Mertesacker.

In order to contain the likes of Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain, a mobile central-defensive pairing will be needed, with Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels once again likely to start as Low's centre-back duo.

Hummels came off at half-time during the 7-1 drubbing of Brazil in the semi-finals, but Gabriele Marcotti of ESPN agrees that Mertesacker will be the figure benched in Rio:

Martin Rose/Getty Images

Low will be grateful to see those as his only major concerns for Sunday's fixture, his other dilemma being whether or not to start with Miroslav Klose up front.

It would be all too easy to say the World Cup's all-time record goalscorer transformed Die Mannschaft against Brazil, as other strategies may have done just as well against such dire defending.

However, it's foreseeable that Klose's predatory instinct will once again be utilised to occupy La Albiceleste's centre-backs, leaving Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger to form a midfield pivot behind Low's creative trio of Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos and Thomas Mueller.

Germany Predicted Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Lahm, Hummels, Boateng, Hoewedes; Khedira, Schweinsteiger; Ozil, Kroos, Mueller; Klose

Via Bleacher Report

 

Having missed the semi-final triumph over the Netherlands, Angel Di Maria still isn't back to 100 per cent fitness in time for Sunday.

However, Sabella could risk his star winger for the occasion; if not for a World Cup final, then when else can such chances be taken?

That would leave Enzo Perez free to drop back into his favoured central-midfield role, despite operating so comfortably out wide of late, where he'll look to offer Javier Mascherano a more creative outlet.

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Federico Fernandez is likely to remain on the sidelines in place of Martin Demichelis, who showed rejuvenated form against the Dutch in the semi-final, while Marcos Rojo will hold down the left-back slot.

Sergio Aguero is back to fitness but far from his best, and it showed after he came on as a semi-final substitute, leaving Higuain to keep his spot in the starting XI.

Argentina Predicted Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Romero; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Rojo; Perez, Mascherano; Di Maria, Messi, Lavezzi; Higuain

 

Prediction

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It's likely to be a story of attack against defence, however nonsensically obvious that may sound, with Argentina taking the brunt of the punishment as Germany fashion a wealth of scoring opportunities.

Sabella's men seemed at peace with such a disposition of power against Netherlands, though, and there will be a massive impetus on Mascherano and Perez to create those quick transitions from defence into attack.

There also sits the not-so-subtle presence of Messi, who is himself more than capable of pulling off such swift acceleration.

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In this fixture, whoever nets first will probably be the winners, with Germany capable of protecting their lead through possession, while an Argentinian score could simply be shielded by dogged defence.

The South Americans may feel the advantage is theirs should the game go to extra time, but by all means, Brazil's neighbours will be eager to get this result sealed in normal time.

Prediction: Germany 1-1 Argentina (Argentina win in extra time)

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