Sunday, July 13, 2014

Germany v Argentina: World Cup final rubber match

Later today Germany will face Argentina in a World Cup final rubber match. Argentina won the first match in 1986, 3-2, the World Cup that was defined by the evil genius that was Maradona. The two sides met again 4 years later in Rome, for the worst finals ever seen at a World Cup. That version was won by the Germans 1-0. That game was marred by ugly football, Argentina getting 2 red cards, Klinsmann at his flopping

best and a terrible penalty granted by an official that seemed overwhelmed by the situation. Let us hope that this round resembles more the 1986 version than the 1990 version.

After the 7-1 destruction of the hosts it would appear that this is Germany's final to lose. Or is it? Every since Low put out a line up with Lahm back at right fullback and playing two holding players - Khedira and Schweinsteiger - and even inserting a natural striker Klose, the side has been clicking on all cylinders. And any mistakes get cleaned up by Neuer in the goal. The Mannschaft were the second favorites behind Brazil, and we all saw what the second favorite thought of the favorites a few days ago.

Ended up a good day for Argentina
On the other side we have a team that seems to be an enigma wrapped in a riddle. A team that many, myself included, thought they would make this tournament theirs. On their home continent, on the ground of their fiercest rivals and playing with the best player on the planet. Instead the side has failed to flatter. They have been efficient - giving up 3 goals all tournament, but they have only scored 8 goals. Germany almost scored that many in the semi finals! Messi has shown flashes of his brilliance - saving Argentina from embarrassment against Iran. But he has not been consistent. Practically walking through the game against Holland. There are reports that he has "heavy legs" after a long season with Barcelona. I have even heard a rumor that he is saving himself for this game. Regardless he is now at a World Cup final. A game that will go a long way to define his legacy in global football and more importantly in his nation. It is well documented his living in the shadow of Maradona in his nation of Argentina. This will only  grow more intense if he does not show up for this game.

So who will prevail in the match between the German machine v the Argentine legacy? Germany has shown some ruthless efficiency - they already faced a team defined by a world class player, Portugal, and handled them with ruthlessness. They dispatched the upstart French with the bare minimum. And cleaned house against the hosts in the semi finals.  Germany have the right formation and the players hitting their stride at the right moment. With Klose up front, Low allows Muller to slot to his preferred left side and Ozil on the right. Khedira and Schweiny play the perfect holding roles and Kroos is quietly becoming a world class set piece player.

Argentina are missing their second most important offensive players - Di Maria. The midfield
No joy at the Maracana?
will fall even more on the shoulders of Mascherano. The other Barcelona player on the roster is a beast in the midfield, but he will have to deal with threats coming from multiple angles. Up front, Higuain has to step up his game which he seems to have been on the path of doing so, but he must bring his A game if Argentina hope to prevail. Of course there is Messi. The one weakness that Germany has shown is the ability to handle pace through the middle, something Messi could bring...if he stops walking around the pitch. Germany suffered when they faced Ghana and Algeria, two very quick teams up top. If Messi can get some space and time to run at the German defense they might have something. Especially if Germany continue to play a high defensive line, that might open them up for someone like Messi or Higuain or Aguero to make runs behind the defense.

But at the end of the day, I think a well run German team will prevail against the Argentina superstar. Messi does look tired and at half speed. Messi at his best could give this side some real problems, but not at this stage. Argentina will defend much better than the Brazilians did, how could you be any worse. They will also be motivated to try and win the title on Brazilian soil as well Messi having a chance to get out of Maradona's shadows. Alas, Die Mannschaft will win in a very methodical and very German way.

Germany 3 - Argentina 0


Anonymous said...

So I don't know who to root for here - Germany has Poland's two best players and I often feel urges of violence towards every guy I see wearing a Messi jersey - but alas Froggy, I think you have it right: the German machine will continue to roll and, much like Europe some 75 years ago, the Argentines will be unable to stop the assault.

GFC said...

You cannot root for Germany after they STOLE Poland's best players. Just think how good Poland could be with Podoloski wide and Klose and Lewandowski up front. But I digress.

The efficient German machine rolls onwards to a 4th star on their kit.