A Messi win for Argentina

Ghana were simply outstanding in their match against Germany. - AFP

After many sleepless nights in the past month, it has come down to the final. 

Yes! The World Cup will be over in less than 24 hours and we will know the champions of the biggest prize in football.

(We also don’t have to hear any more mind-numbing comments from the people who only watch football once in four years.)

The 20th edition of football’s biggest tournament has been nothing but thrilling, entertaining and exhilarating. 

I could go on and on, but I think most would agree that this tournament has been one of the most exciting and open tournaments compared to the last few editions.

So far 170 goals have been scored in 63 matches, the record being 171 goals.

For me personally, this has been the best World Cup since 2002. 

There were many upsets and the likes of Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile and Colombia showed that it is a really beautiful game with their brand of football.

It helped of course that the likes of Italy, England and Spain were booted out in the group stages itself.

The romance however disappeared when all the underdogs were knocked out by the quarterfinals stage, leaving the semi-finals to be contested by the traditional powerhouses.

Both semi-finals disappointed and for differing reasons.

(I was exaggerating when I said the whole tournament was entertaining)

The Brazil-Germany game was the strangest game I have ever seen while the Argentina-Holland game was the cagiest game at the tournament.

Nevertheless, the group stages until the quarterfinals has been unforgettable. I can only hope for a great final this Monday morning, but I won’t be expecting it.

There is too much at stake for the Germans and Argentines who will probably
play it safe and not take any risks. 

Germany should start as favourites but I believe that Argentina have it in them to nick the trophy.

In all their matches, the Argentines have not been impressive at all but have been winning narrowly. 

That is a good thing this time and as they say, a championship-winning side wins even when they don’t perform.

This is unlike the last two tournaments where they were blazing hot until they were beaten by Germany in the knockout stages.

Argentina lost on penalties in 2006 but four years later were resoundingly thrashed 4-0.

So this time around, maybe not starting as favourites could be an advantage.

While I am not particularly fond of Argentina, a win for them would go some way to end the debate about the greatest player ever.

Lionel Messi is a phenomenon and I believe is comparable to Maradona or Pele.

I won’t say he is better than either one because all of them played in different eras, but he can be up there. 

Many say that he hasn’t won anything with Argentina, so he can’t possibly be compared with the greats.

In the group stages he single-handedly won all the games for Argentina although his impact was less in the knockout stages.

He still created the winning goal in against the Swiss in the second round and made some telling contributions against Belgium in the quarterfinals.

He was anonymous against the Dutch in the semi-finals but even world class players have their off days.

Germany has shown that they don't rely on individuals but rather a team ethic to defeat their opponents.

Many might be swooning after their 7-1 defeat of Brazil but people seem to forget that they made hard of wins against the Americans and Algerians.

Ghana were also unlucky to have drawn 2-2 against them in the group stage.

They might have more match winners than Argentina but the South Americans have the deadliest of them all.

In any case, lets hope we have a good final for the sake of football.

I leave you with my picks for "individual awards" in the tournament. (The final game not taken into account)

Best player:
Colombian striker James Rodriguez is definitely the hottest thing in football right now. He inspired the South American team to the quarterfinals of the tournament by scoring six goals.

Biggest shock:
Brazil was more than lucky to make it to the semi-finals where they were humiliated 7-1 by Germany. Brazil is not that bad and it was just one of those days when everything Germany hit went in.

Best celebrations:
Many would have gone with Colombia’s dance celebrations but for me Mexican coach Miguel Harrera showed unbridled joy when his team scored. Makes you love the game.

Best quote:
Uruguay striker Luis Suarez's claim that he did not bite Italian Giorgio Chiellini. “After the impact I lost my balance, that destabilised me and I fell on top of my opponent. At this moment I hit my face against the player leaving a small bruise on my cheek and a strong pain in my teeth and that’s why the referee stopped the match. That is what happened and in no way was there any case of biting or intending to bite.”
Best game:
Germany vs Ghana 2-2. This game was end to end from start to finish and could have gone either way. Other notable games would be the Holland vs. Australia game.

Worst game:
Has got to be the semifinal between Argentina and Holland, which was a snooze fest.

Best Goal:
This is very debatable but I believe Robin Van Persie's diving header against Spain was the best goal of the tournament. This would be followed by a Brazilian team goal scored by Fernandinho against Cameroon. Special mentions for James Rodriguez and Tim Cahill volleys.

The most spoilt brats:
Ghana and Nigeria for bonus related issues. The Ghanaian federation even flew in $3mil in bonuses before the team's final game against Portugal which they lost. Shameful. Unlike Ghana and Nigeria, the Greek team rejected their bonuses and asked the PM to use the money to build a training facility. The Algerian team meanwhile donated their bonus money to the Palestinian people.

Most versatile player:
Has got to be the unspectacular but reliable Dirk Kuyt who played everywhere except in goal for Holland. He was a key player for Holland and never stopped running.

Most "romantic" team:
Not romance in that sense but footballing wise, it would go to Costa Rica for their run to the quarterfinals. Most expected them to be whipping boys, but they finished top of a group that included three other former World Cup winners.

Biggest disappointment:
The Asian teams only managed a paltry three points of a possible 48. All four teams finished at the bottom of their groups.

Most overrated teams:
Defending champions Spain, England and Italy. Too much hype and hysteria for nothing.

> The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.

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World Cup , Germany , Argentina , Best and Worst , Finals


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