Germany's clash with Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup final should cap what has been a thrilling tournament in style. Speaking of style, the game itself is a contrast between attacking intent and defensive resolve.
Germany has embodied the former quality. They have played with forward-thinking verve since beginning their march to the final with a 4-0 Group G win over Portugal.
By contrast, Argentina has played a more reserved game. The Argentines have trusted solidity at the back to steer them through. A rugged defence, supplemented by midfield enforcer Javier Mascherano, hasn't been breached since the group stage.
It will be interesting to see what relents first at Brazil's iconic Maracana Stadium. Will it be Germany's appetite for goals or Argentina's stubborn resistance?
Here's all the relevant schedule information ahead of the tournament's 32nd and final day:
|World Cup Day 32 Schedule Information|
|Match||Start Time||TV||Live Stream|
|Germany vs. Argentina||8 p.m. BST / 3 p.m. ET||BBC One, ITV, ABC||BBCSport.co.uk, ITV Player / WATCH ABC|
|BBC.co.uk, ITV.com, ABCNews.com|
The last day of the competition offers an opportunity to reflect on some of the best moments from the month-long odyssey of football. There have been more than a healthy share of spectacular goals, particularly in the group stage.
Chile became fan favourites among many neutrals for their free-flowing and attractive brand of football. Meanwhile, Costa Rica provided the biggest shock by coming within a penalty shootout of reaching the semi-final.
Speaking of the semi-finals, who can forget Germany's stunning 7-1 demolition of Brazil? Yes, this Brazil team had little to no business contesting a semi-final, but few could've predicted they'd be destroyed in such a manner.
Of course, there's still one game left. One of its more interesting storylines concerns the long-term potential offered by a German win.
Can Germany Dominate for Years?
Coach Joachim Low believes his nation is set for a period of sustained dominance in international football, per BBC Sport writer Phil McNulty. The Germany boss believes that his nation boasts a strong core of youthful players just approaching their respective primes:
We have young players who aren't even here and other players with a fantastic future such as Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Reus, Mesut Ozil, Andre Schurrle and Thomas Muller.
They can go on to play for a number of years. We can play on top of the world for a good number of years, with some young players coming in to reinforce the team.
The point is well taken. Few football nations boast Germany's reserves of talent. The riches are most obvious in midfield.
Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger have all starred at this tournament. But budding talents such as Schalke 04 ace Julian Draxler and Bayern Munich's Mario Gotze are primed to emerge.
It's that kind of depth that makes it easy to believe the Germans can stay at the top level of the international game for several major tournaments.
Of course, they haven't won this competition yet. In fact, the Germans haven't snared a top international prize since Euro '96, and the last time they raised the World Cup came in 1990.
The nation has suffered disappointment in finals in both 2002 and 2008. The same thing happened at the semi-final stage in 2006, 2010 and 2012.
But there is now real hope that everything will soon change. The hope should be that Germany can emulate Spain.
The Spanish also suffered through a prolonged barren spell, one ironically ended by beating Germany in the 2008 European Championships. Spain followed that triumph by capturing the 2010 World Cup, before retaining the European crown in 2012.
The Spanish reinvented themselves as a football nation by investing heavily in a new generation of players and a different style of play. Now the Germans are earning plaudits for doing the same, as Barney Ronay of The Guardian has pointed out:
Much has been made in the past few days of Germany’s golden crop, the 2009 Uefa Under-21 championship team, of which six members are now likely to line up in the World Cup final. It is an extraordinary progression en masse from junior to seniors, given the usual level of natural wastage.
Germany are probably favourites to win this World Cup, just as they should probably be favourites to win every tournament given the supremely well-resourced and productive youth system put in place by an eminently sensible football association.
Of course, for any of this sentiment to be vindicated, Germany has to overcome Argentina. That won't be easy when considering not only the South Americans' solid defence, but also the presence of Lionel Messi.
The mini marvel can claim a legacy of dominance of his own by helping his nation win this tournament. Germany's golden generation has to make stopping Messi its top priority. Otherwise, more final heartache awaits.
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