Germany and Argentina will revive memories of the World Cup finals gone by at the Maracana on Sunday, with both sides remembering the history of the fixture with mixed emotions.
Both of their last World Cup triumphs came against each other, with Germany crowned champions after defeating the Argentines 1-0 in 1990, with the 1986 final being the last time the South Americans won the trophy after edging out West Germany in Mexico, 3-2.
Joachim Loew’s men have had the upper hand in their most recent World Cup contests, defeating Argentina on penalties on home soil in 2006, before thumping Maradona’s men 4-0 in South Africa.
Should they triumph at the Maracana, Germany will make history as the first ever European side to win a World Cup on Latin American soil. Despite their annihilation of the hosts, native support in Brazil is likely to be behind Die Mannschaft due to them playing the Selecao’s fiercest rivals.
Argentina have the slight edge in matches played between the two sides, with nine wins compared to Germany’s six. Interestingly, both teams have put 28 goals past each other over their previous encounters. Best odds for an Argentina win can be found here.
Argentina have only scored eight goals in the run up to the final, compared to Germany’s 17. After their drubbing of the hosts, the Germans are now the highest scorers in World Cup history with 223 goals, overtaking Brazil. However, the Argentines have conceded no goals in the knockout stages of the competition and only three in total during the tournament, keeping four cleans sheets overall.
All eyes will be on Lionel Messi, who at the age of 27, will be playing in his first World Cup final. He so far has four goals and one assist to his name. The Argentines will be hoping that arguably the greatest player of his generation will be able to summon the spirit of Diego Maradona and honour the memory of recently deceased Alfredo Di Stefano by leading them to victory on the soil of their bitterest rivals.
Miroslav Klose became the highest World Cup goal scorer with his goal against Brazil in the semi-final, but the man in form for Germany has been Thomas Muller. The Bayern forward has struck five goals and three assists and is just one goal away from claiming the Golden Boot.
Germany are expected to be unchanged from their line-up which started against Brazil, while fit again Sergio Aguero may be included in the Argentina line-up. Angel Di Maria continues to struggle with a thigh problem and will be monitored up until kick-off, with the Argentines hoping he will be fit enough to start.
Germany win – best odds here – the best attack of the World Cup comes up against one of the meanest defences. Germany’s mauling of Brazil will be fresh in the minds of the Argentines, who may adopt a more conservative approach to the game than their European opponents.
Despite Argentina’s impressive defensive record the Germans posses a goal threat in each area of the field, even their keeper looks like he could do a job in midfield! This may be the game where Argentina’s resilience breaks.
Under 2.5 goals – best odds here – despite possessing arguably the best player in the world, Argentina have lacked invention in front of goal, shown by their low goal tally of 8. With football’s biggest prize at stake, nerves may stifle Germany’s play, but we expect them to break the Argentina defence and win by a goal to nil.