On Sunday, July 13, the 2014 World Cup will come to a close when Argentina and Germany face off in the final. Arguably one of the best ever World Cups, it will be a test of Germany’s team strength against Lionel Messi’s individual brilliance. Both teams will be confident of obtaining victory for their countries, and there are five key factors that will help decide how this game finishes.
1. Fatigue When Germany demolished Brazil on Tuesday, they did more than just send a message to their final opponents, they allowed themselves to get vital rest. Joachim Low was able to substitute key players, such as Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller, while giving younger members of the squad a chance to play. This will definitely be in Germany’s favor because in addition to playing a day after their opponents, Argentina also played an additional 30 minutes because they were unable to break down the Netherlands’ defense and had to go to a penalty shoot-out to obtain victory. Those extra minutes could prove costly because key players, like Lionel Messi, had to stay on the field the entire time.
2. Lionel Messi Broke Iranian hearts by scoring the winning goal in the final few minutes of the match. Despite being kept at bay against the Netherlands, he was responsible for providing the assist for Gonzalo Higuain’s goal in the quarterfinal win against Belgium and showed that he can be the difference between two teams, even when he isn’t the player scoring the goals. If Argentina are going to win against Germany, then they will need a massive performance from their captain.
3. Goalkeepers The area of the field where there is the biggest difference in ability is not between any of the players using their feet, it is between the only two players who are able to use their hands. Germany will be confident going into this game because they have the best goalie at the World Cup, Manuel Neuer. Argentina’s goalie, Sergio Romero, is no slacker, but he is nowhere near the keeper that Neuer is. I have a feeling that this game will come down to one goalkeeper making one or two massive saves, and I believe that Neuer would be the more likely to make a game-changing save.
4. Strikeforce Both teams boast an array of attacking talent, yet Argentina have not shown their full potential throughout this tournament. Despite taking an early lead against Belgium, and carving them open several times, they struggled to capitalize on their opportunities. Star forward, Sergio Aguero, looked woefully out of sorts against the Netherlands, which is unfortunate for Argentina because when Aguero is in form, he is lethal. In contrast to Argentina’s stuttering offense, Germany have been ruthless, as demonstrated by their 7-1 mauling of Brazil. Argentina have relied heavily on their strikeforce score goals, whereas Germany have goal-threats throughout the team. A stat worth noting is that while Germany have scored 17 goals during this World Cup, Argentina have only scored eight.
5. Home Field Advantage Now that Brazil are out of the World Cup, the South American fans are likely to be cheering for Argentina in the final. This could provide them with a vital boost because it will make them feel like they are playing at home. Instead of just representing Argentina, they are now representing the hopes of South America. Additionally because Germany knocked Brazil out, the home fans are even less likely to want to see the Germans win. However, this could also work to the advantage of the Germans because last time they played a team with home field advantage they cruised to a 7-1 victory.
This game will be a fitting end to an extremely exciting tournament. It will be interesting to see how Argentina attempt to counter Germany’s attacking threat, while still attempting to score goals themselves. Ultimately they will know that they cannot try to outscore the Germans and I would imagine that they will try to hit them on the break. I think that this is Germany’s final to lose, they have been the best team at the tournament so far, but they will need to hold their nerve.