After one of the most memorable World Cups in recent memory, it is finally down to the final two teams. Each match seemed to be more exciting than the next with upsets and drama at every stage of the tournament. In the end, it’s all going to come down to one game on Sunday though. On Sunday July 13th at 3pm, Argentina will take on Germany for the most coveted trophy in all of soccer. Germany is heading into the final game after playing one of the best games in German soccer history. They dismantled the home team favorite Brazil 7-1 (yes, seven to one) and seem to be reaching their peak at the right time. After a shaky performance in the group stages and some unconvincing wins in the elimination stages, this German team is finally implementing the efficient style of play that the world knew they were capable of. Their semi-final win against Brazil will be talked about for years to come and Germany hopes to carry the momentum from that win into the finals (hopefully, without letting it inflate their egos too much).
It’s very important that the German team goes in with level heads. After all, they will be going up against what might be the best player in the world right now, Lionel Messi. Messi is hoping to put himself in the “best-soccer-player-of-all-time” conversation and adding a World Cup Championship might give him the boost he needs – especially since he’s already the dominating playmaker and scorer on the team. Argentina is coming off of a very (re: very) different semi-final game than Germany. Their game against The Netherlands ended in a penalty kick shoot out after both teams failed to score a goal during both regular time and overtime. The lack of goals was the result of a deliberate strategy by The Netherlands. They sacrificed much of their offense by having one man stay near Messi at all times, with others quickly swarming whenever he got the ball. Because they had to pay so much attention to the Argentine, it was harder for them to push men forward and develop any sort of serious offensive threat. The game plan worked at first – Messi never had enough room to have a shot on goal. However, Argentina won the shootout, ultimately punching their ticket to the finals.
It will be interesting to see what strategy Germany uses in the next game. The Netherlands proved that paying extra attention to Messi can stop him from taking over the game, but at the sacrifice of applying serious offensive pressure. Because Brazil’s Neymar was injured for the semi-final game, we did not get to see how Germany would have handled a single player who poses such an offensive threat. However, Argentia will have to make sure the defense is on point in order to avoid any potentially dangerous turnovers. During the Germany vs. Brazil game, the defense lacked organization and the Germans used the confusion to create space and complete plenty of passes. Germany did an excellent job of converting a Brazilian mistake into a goal in the semi-finals and will look to do the same against Argentina.
This final has the potential to be an extremely exciting game. The well-oiled machine that is team Germany will look to take down a man widely considered the best soccer player on the planet. Will Messi take over and really cement himself as one of the all-time greats, like fellow Argentine Maradona or Brazilian soccer legend Pele? Will Germany sacrifice some offensive firepower to contain him or will trying to contain him be their entire strategy? Will this “golden generation” of German players leave their mark on German soccer history by finishing up with a World Cup victory? All these questions will be answered in what’s shaping up to be an extremely competitive World Cup final.
Written by Guest Blogger, Jared B. of Vanderbilt University