World Cup 2014: The last battle


Will Lahm or Messi (right) come out on top in the battle of the captains? - AFP

THE last game of World Cup 2014 in Brazil. After many sleepless nights, it all comes down to the match on Monday morning. And after writing stories and match previews for four weeks, this looks like the final one for me. For the World Cup I mean!

Sadly, two of my favourite international sides, Malaysia and Sweden didn’t qualify but as a football fan, you can’t miss the World Cup. I’ve watched almost all the matches and my favourites were Spain vs Netherlands, Netherlands vs Australia and Germany vs Portugal.

The 2014 edition, to me, was one of the best World Cups I’ve ever watched and there were many moments to savour from Luis Suarez’s bite on Giorgio Chiellini and the brilliance of James Rodriguez to Germany’s 7-1 demolition of Brazil and the heroics of Tim Howard against Belgium in the quarter-finals.

Time does indeed go by so quickly and it’s going to be weird, especially for me, as I’ve stayed up almost every night to watch the games.

This World Cup was simply amazing. FIFA’s technical study report said the tournament in Brazil “is one of the greatest World Cups.”

So all right, Germany is set to face Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio De Janeiro and for both sides, the title would mean a lot! Lionel Messi will want to win it to cement his status as one of the all-time legends of the game while Germany, after losing in the semi-finals of the last two tournaments, will want to win their fourth title!

Who will win it? Here is my final match preview of World Cup 2014 – the final between the Los Albicelestes and Die Nationalmannschaft.

Argentina vs Germany

Joachim Loew is one of the best international coaches in world football and he deserves to be in the final. Everyone has been talking about the 14-year-plan by the German football association and if you ask me, many associations will want that blueprint.

And part of that blueprint is some elements of samba. According to a coach who got his coaching badges from Brazil, the Germans sent their scouts to Brazil to analyse and observe their football.

Quick counter-attacks and breathtaking passing – all these traits are from the land of the samba and look at how it has worked for the Germans.

The Germans are going to play like South Americans while the Argentinians will opt for a more European style. Hard to imagine but this is modern football!

For this match, my guess is that Loew will retain his favourite line-up. One piece of advice though: Don’t play Per Mertesacker! With him in the defence, I’m sure Argentina will look for the quick kill.

Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger should form the midfield trident while Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze and Mesut Ozil will be the three men upfront.

The Germans play as a unit and to me, I don’t see any weak link when they click. All of them work as one and play as one. Drive is important and the Germans have it. (Though some may argue that Ozil is not showing enough hunger.)

Argentina under Alejandro Sabella, meanwhile, will look to lift the trophy on Brazilian soil. At first, I thought the Brazilians would be livid if Argentina were to win the tournament in Brazil but according to my friend who just returned from Rio, Brazilians want the Argentines to win.

They just want the trophy to be in South America. Can Argentina make it happen?

Lionel Messi will be the trump card but I’m expecting the Germans to mark him heavily. Sabella will no doubt hope for individual brilliance from him to unlock the Germans.

Messi has already said, “This will be the match of our lives,”

Organisation has been the main theme for this Argentinean side and with players like Javier Mascherano and Fernando Gago on form, expect Los Albicelestes to keep the Germans at bay and slow down the game’s tempo.

Ezequiel Garay and Martin Demichelis have looked rock solid in defence and expect them to continue their impressive performances in the final. Marcos Rojo, to me, is one of the most underrated left-backs at the World Cup and he will surely be an asset.

Will it be cagey or open? Just like any final, I’m expecting it to be cagey at first but come to life in the second half.

And what about the scoreline? Germany has been impressive throughout the tournament and it would be great to see them lift the trophy. The Argentineans may frustrate them but I think mobility and efficiency will help the Die Nationalmannschaft lift the title. Germany to beat the Argentina 2-0.
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