World Cup: Germany And Argentina Meet For A Third Time

Alright, awright. Since you're all clamoring for my opinion on the World Cup final I'll give it you.

It's been an interesting World Cup to say the least for a number of reasons. Though it feels like many goals have been scored, mostly because Germany has distorted perception in two matches where they scored four and seven goals, the average goal per game is 2.69. In 20 World Cups, it's the ninth worst total but it's one of the highest since 1986 and the best since 1998.

The officiating, in my view, was wildly inconsistent. Some may say this is the case in all World Cups. Perhaps. But it's been a little more than usual in this one. I think the sport would save a lot of needless headaches if they'd take a progressive and enlightened approach to technology. If sports like baseball rooted in conservative tradition can open itself up to replay, so can soccer. Man, if a goal is scored but erroneously over turned by an offside, then a manager should be able to challenge it not unlike a football coach in the CFL or NFL.

The arrival of the Americans. I think this was America's coming of age party. This time around the United States made their mark in letting other countries know they now come to win. Sure, they only won one game but I noticed a sense of belief that may not have been there in the past. They keep growing with each passing World Cup. All they need to do is learn to play with a little more patient, learn to know when to let the ball do the running, and mature tactically. That will come.

Canada, dear me, you have a lot of work to do if you're to ever dream of rivaling USA soccer. And it's going to get worse before it gets better. I have zero faith in the Canadian Soccer Association in its current form to make Canada a viable soccer nation capable of competing at an elite level necessary to qualify for a World Cup. The fact that our talent consistently opt to play for other nation's is worrisome as it is a total indictment of Soccer Canada. I've been railing about this since the 1990s yet I see absolutely no progress.

But enough about that.

Sunday's final between Argentina and Germany.

There's some back story here. This will be the third time these two sides meet in a final with each splitting a win. This will be a rubber match of sorts.

Of the two so far, Germany has been the more impressive though I'd be very careful in basing any opinions solely based on the semi-final against Brazil. That was an outlier.  In addition, they have looked out of form in a couple of games, but overall they've played with more confidence than Argentina although the latter have definitely grown more so as the tournament progressed.

At the moment, Germany has three things going for it: Its midfield and attack is playing in unison and at an optimum pace. Its goal tending under Neuer outstanding. And Low's substitutions have been solid.

However, there's a weakness.

The defense. Though capable and well-organized, it lacks mobility. If there's one thing Argentina can do is exploit this with their speed. We've seen how vulnerable the German defense is under pressure from teams like Ghana and Algeria.

Speaking of defense, Argentina's strengths coming into the tournament was its offense and stacked midfield while experts felt its defense was the weakest link. Ironically, it's been the defense that's carried Argentina as they're playing a very Italianesque style at the moment - as are the Germans for what its worth. Both sides have been ruthlessly efficient in their approach to the games which is a force and defining characteristic of Italian soccer as ESPN noted:

"Forza Deutschland!

In case you haven't noticed, Germany have become the new Italy -- right before your narcoleptic eyes. Like the Azzurri did so brilliantly en route to winning five World Cups, Joachim Low's boys have mastered the art of sucking the air out of a game once they've taken the lead. It may be mind-numbingly tedious to watch, but it's ruthlessly effective, as France found out Friday."

Italy has four titles and not five. Inexcusable that a sports site blessed with all the resources ESPN possesses they would make such an error. But the overall point remains valid.

Like Germany, Argentina has excellent goal keeping with Romero. Should they go to penalty kicks (shoot-out) it will be one for the keepers. Above all, they have the one major Ace in their pocket and that comes in the form of Lionel Messi. There is no bigger game breaker in this final.

Very hard call since it's a one-off. But one can give the edge to Germany and it wouldn't raise an argument from me.

If Argentina's defense holds up like it has, Germany will not have an easy go of things especially if Argentina decides to notch up the physical aspect of the game. As well, Messi can make things, well, messy up front and depending on the formation Sabella uses, Mascherano and di Maria (if it) can also exploit Germany's slow pace. Once penetrated, however, they will have to contend with Neuer and this will take a special moment to pierce him. But that will only happen if Argentina forwards - Messi, Higuain, Palacio and Lavezzi - vastly improve from their last showing against The Netherlands.

Germany has to stay true to its identity, remain poised as they're apt to do and impose, be direct and execute. Very simple for them. This is how they either grind out wins or pummel opponents. A team with the likes of  Ozil, Kroos, Khdeira, Lahm (who has excelled at right back) and Schweinsteiger can easily carry out such objectives. The latter four may be asked to shadow Messi by committee depending where he roams on the pitch Keep Messi away from the 18 meter box where he's most deadly I say. The task may be made a tad easier if the influential Di Maria doesn't start. The Dutch did a fine job of isolating Messi in the semi-final.

Sorry if this seems scattered. Just did a small 21k bike ride and 5k run training for a race in September. I'm a little under the gun especially not having slept all that well in the last two nights.


As for shoot-outs, while both teams have great keepers, Germany's pedigree in penalty kicks is spot on - excuse the pun.

Germany has never lost in shoot-out in four encounters while Argentina is not too shabby at 4-1. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Mysterious and anonymous comments as well as those laced with cyanide and ad hominen attacks will be deleted. Thank you for your attention, chumps.