No, the finale won't be contested early.
But it may as well ought to be, as the two strongest and most convincing teams so far will battle it out in the quarters.
The teams are Argentina and Germany. Both had convincing wins during their respective first knockout round contests.
Argentina qualified from Group C and faced Mexico. A brace from Carlos Tevez , and another from Gonzalo Higuain helped Argentina cruise to victory over the North Americans.
Germany drew its historic rival England in the first knockout match. The Germans cruised to a comfortable 2-0 lead before England fought back, scoring once while wrongly having another goal disallowed.
Despite the controversy, Germany deserved their 4-1 victory.
Who to watch
Both teams could claim the World Cup. But being pitted against each other early, ensures the drama will not cease. Only one will make it to the next round.
Both have individual players who are fully capable of changing the game on their own. The individual match-ups will be interesting to say the least.
Argentina's strength is obvious. Its attack is the epitome of world football.
It's squad consists of world-class players who compete for the most elite clubs in the world. They have representatives from FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Internazionale Milano and Manchester City.
The starting trio of attackers consist of Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain.
Is there another group of players that strike fear into the hearts of defenders like the previously mentioned?
Messi- The 2008-2009 Player of the Year was remarkable last season; scoring 47 goals in 53 games. But in South Africa he has failed to score in four games, though he has still he played brilliantly.
So far he taken 13 shots on target, has bagged an assist and completed 196 passes. Fair enough to say, if Messi is on his game Argentina will be hard to stop.
Higuain - After Real Madrid’s spending before the 2009-2010 season, many of its existing players were questioned as to whether they were good enough. Higuain proved the he is world-class, bagging a cool 29 goals and six assists 39 matches.
And his form hasn’t stopped in South Africa. He is the top scorer, as of now, with four goals in three matches.
Germany is going to have its work cut out, dealing with the aforementioned without even including players such as: Tevez, Sergio Aguero and the man who scored a brace in the UEFA Champions League Final: Diego Milito.
In my opinion Germany has a more complete squad. It boasts attackers like Lukas Podolski, Thomas Müller, and Miroslav Klose, midfielders Mesut Özil, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, and a defense including Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker and Arne Friedrich.
If any team can break down the attacking prowess of Argentina it is Germany.
The Germans play a balanced 4-2-3-1, ensuring they have plenty going forward as well as enough back to break down counter attacks.
Germany so far, has played some of the most brilliant and inspiring attacking football, despite commonly being labelled as a defensive team.
It is the defense that must hold if the Germans are to send off Argentina, a team also brimming with confidence.
So who is vital in this defense?
Schweinsteiger- Once upon a time, he was a winger, but he has shifted superbly into the centre. A danger with the ball, with excellent vision and passing, he is dangerous going forward. But against Argentina, expect him to hang back, taking the role of a holding midfielder, and provide the defense with extra cover, breaking down counter-attacks. His physical presence could ensure Argentina has trouble breaking down the compact defense.
Mertesacker- The Werder Bremen man is one of the best defenders at the World Cup. With Mertesacker in the penalty area, you can’t see Argentina dominating in the air. One characteristic Argentina can exploit though is Mertesacker’s pace, or lack of. He will be relying upon Bastain, Friedrick and Lahm to cover his tracks.
Lahm- The 26-year-old captain is one of, if not the, best right-back in the world. His lack of height is made up from other attributes, he has speed and the ability to read the game as well as dribbling and passing skills. Against Argentina, his performance will be vital. He will most likely have to fight his natural inclination to move up and down the wings, as Argentina will need to be watched constantly.
Both sides are brilliant, and while I go for Germany, and want them to win. I just cannot decide, who will get the better over the other. I’d say Germany, but I just don’t know, especially with the unpredictability of the likes of Messi, Tevez and company.
Who do you think will advance? Argentina or Germany?
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