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Weekend Football Blog

World Cup Final Preview

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.

ger v arg

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.

Prediction:

Germany win – best odds herethe 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.

Hot tip:

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.

Holland v Argentina Preview

With an abundance of world-class players in each side, you would expect these two major footballing nations to be at the semi-final stage. That they are, but neither of these sides are yet to show their full potential. At this moment in time, it is hard to see whether there is more to come from these teams. We will find out tonight.

hol v argDespite their supposed struggles, both teams advanced to the knockout stages with 100% winning records. Holland’s route to the semi final is arguably more impressive than Argentina’s, after coming through their ‘group of death’ against Spain, Chile and Australia, before beating Mexico and Costa Rica in the knockout stages in dramatic circumstances.

Holland kicked off their World Cup campaign in spectacular fashion with one of the performances of the tournament so far. Their 5-1 demolition of Spain made other teams sit up and take notice of a squad which was expected to flop due to the amount of Everdivise-based players and lack of big names. However players such as Daley Blind, Stefan De Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi have all shone, while their stars like Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder have all showed what they’re capable of at various times during the tournament.

In the last 16 and quarterfinal it was the genius of their manager who helped pull the Dutch over the finishing line. Mexico were leading until the 88th minute before Klaas Jan Huntelaar turned the game on its head. Louis van Gaal hauled his captain Robin van Persie off for the Schalke striker. Huntelaar repayed his manager’s faith by setting up Sneijder’s equaliser before converting a stoppage time penalty to send the Dutch through.

Van Gaal’s mastery didn’t end there however. As their quarterfinal approached penalties, the Dutch manager decided to take off his number one keeper, Jasper Cillessen and replace him with Tim Krul who would face the Costa Ricans in a penalty shootout. The decision paid dividends with Krul saving two penalties to send the Oranje machine through to the last four. As well as an organised, hard working team, the Dutch also seem to have a master tactician at the helm.

Argentina seemed to have a much simpler route to the final four with a group that contained Iran, Bosnia and Nigeria. Despite winning all these games and topping their group, they failed to give a convincing performance which set them apart from the other 31 teams at the World Cup.

This theme continued in the knockout stages where they were fortunate to beat Switzerland 1-0 thanks to a late Angel Di Maria goal in extra-time, before squeezing past Belgium with a 1-0 score line in their quarterfinal. Although they’ve struggled in front of goal of late, they have kept three clean sheets in their last five games.

After being accused of failing to deliver on the big stage for his country, Lionel Messi seems to be the only player Argentina can rely on right now. The little magician has four goals and one assist to his name at this World Cup, while he has created 19 goal-scoring chances – more than any other player. He has also completed the most dribbles in the tournament with 29, Arjen Robben is not far behind on 25. The Dutch will look to their flying winger for inspiration and he has so far provided it with three goals and one assist.

The performances of these two players will play a key role in the final outcome of the game.

Holland will be eager to take the lead and test Argentina as they haven’t trailed for a single minute of the World Cup so far, but 10 of the 12 Dutch goals have come after half time and the last four of them have been scored after the 75th minute.

The two nations have met four times in the World Cup, with Holland winning twice and Argentina once. Argentina’s single win came in the 1978 final, and their most recent World Cup fixture ended in a 0-0 draw back in 2006.

Prediction:

Draw – best odds here both teams may be missing influential players with Van Persie a doubt for the Dutch and Di Maria struggling for Argentina. Both players have a big impact on how there teams play and each side may struggle to acclimatise without them in the opening stages of the game. Both teams know how to set up defensively which could lead to a tight game.

Hot tip:

Under 2.5 goals – best odds here Argentina have kept a clean sheet in each of their knockout games while the Dutch will pack their midfield to give Messi less room to manoeuvre. Van Gaal will be hoping his enforcer, Nigel de Jong, is fit again.

Brazil v Germany Preview

After 159 goals in 60 matches, the 2014 World Cup has reached the semi-final stage. Although Brazil are within touching distance of glory, it is the Germans who will feel like they are ‘home’ having made it to four consecutive semi-finals. But can they go one better and make the final?

brasil v germany

There is not much to choose between the two teams.

Each team had tricky groups to negotiate en route to the final, but both ended up topping their groups with identical records of two wins and a draw. The tricks didn’t stop there however and both teams were in danger of being dumped out at the last 16 stage.

Brazil battled to beat Chile on penalties after being given an almighty scare at the end of extra-time when Mauricio Pinilla rattled the cross bar. Similarly, Germany were carved open by a counter-attacking Algeria side who had chances to win the game in 90 minutes, only for the Germans to wear them down in extra-time and advance to the quarter finals.

Although Germany were classed as favourites for their quarter final tie against France, many were backing Les Bleus due to their impressive performances in making the final eight. It was a game that should have set the imagination alight, but in truth it failed to live up to expectations. France were disappointing on the day and rarely troubled a German side who took an early lead through a Mats Hummel’s header and proceeded to see the game out in a comfortable manner.

If Germany’s quarterfinal wasn’t much of a spectacle, Brazil’s was the polar opposite. The all South American affair saw Colombia, one of the tournaments most exciting teams, pit themselves against the pre-tournament favourites.

Despite a slight lack of quality, with 54 fouls committed – more than any other game at this year’s World Cup, both teams went at it hammer and tong for 90 minutes. Colombia looked hindered by the emotion of the occasion and couldn’t replicate their previous fluid performances. They were undone by two set pieces and two centre backs. Captain Thiago Silva kneed Brazil ahead from a corner before David Luiz doubled their lead with a Brazilian blockbuster from a free kick.

The game also saw two of the hottest prospects at the World Cup take to the field, with James Rodriguez arguably outshining Brazilian poster boy Neymar on the night. Rodriguez showed some lovely touches and coolly converted a late penalty to put the pressure on Brazil.  However, all the talk afterwards was about Neymar, but not for the reasons the Brazilian fans would have preferred.

Neymar will miss two of the biggest games in Brazil’s rich footballing history after he suffered a fractured vertebra, which rules him out for the rest of the tournament. Brazil will also be without their talismanic captain, Thiago Silva, after he picked up his second yellow card of the tournament.

As Brazil lose two of their most influential players, Germany have welcomed back one of theirs. Mats Hummels starred against France with not only the winning goal but a number of influential blocks and tackles at key moments during the game. After their performance against Algeria, the Borussia Dortmund centre-back solidified Germany’s back four with his commanding presence.

Joachim Low has accused Brazil of lacking the flair usually associated with Brazilian teams and he is expecting a physical encounter in Belo Horizante. His perception may be correct as Brazil have committed more fouls than any other team at the World Cup with 96, while no team has picked up more yellow cards. However, at this stage, both teams have scored 10 goals in 5 games.

These two major footballing nations have played each other on 22 occasions with Brazil coming out on top in the head to heads with 12 wins to Germany’s four. They have played each other at a World Cup once before, which just happened to be a final – Brazil went on to win 2-0 back in 2002. The Germans will be out for revenge.

Prediction:

Draw – best odds here – despite missing Neymar through injury, Brazil still have a number of players including the likes of Oscar and Hulk, who can trouble the German defence. Germany will be looking to Thomas Muller and Miroslav Klose once more to take advantage of Thiago Silva’s absence. It’s hard to judge a Brazil team with two of their key players missing while they will not benefit from their absences they will be united and could surprise a few people with their performance. Germany have been too reliant on Muller and Klose and will need goals from other areas of the pitch if they harbour hopes of winning the tournament. Score draw. 

Hot tip:

Under 2.5 goals – best odds here – after seeing more goals per game in the group stage than any other World Cup since 1950, the quarter final ties saw just 5 goals across 4 matches. And we can see this semi final following a similar pattern with nerves and the sense of the occasion affecting both teams.