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World Cup Final: Germany vs Argentina - 13th July 20:00 BST


Who will win the World Cup?  

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  1. 1. Who will win the World Cup?

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If Brazil thought the country's World Cup wounds could not go any deeper, that the sense of national despair could not become more acute, the cheers echoing around the concourses of Arena de Sao Paulo sounded a warning that the worst may be yet to come.

As the rain finally ceased and Argentina won their World Cup semi-final against the Netherlands on penalties, the celebrations were in full swing with sights fully set on Sunday's meeting with Germany.

The South American side's fans repeatedly counted in increasingly deafening volume to seven - the number now synonymous with Brazil's humiliation after their worst ever defeat in that 7-1 loss to Germany in Belo Horizonte.

Hastily assembled banners repeating the insult were in evidence in Argentina's section of support in Sao Paulo on Wednesday. They do not intend to let their fiercest rivals forget that day in a hurry - and winning the World Cup at the Maracana would only serve as another painful reminder for the hosts.

There was no mistaking the added pleasure the prospect of their captain Lionel Messi lifting the World Cup in Brazil's own iconic arena would give Argentina. It would be a show of sporting strength on enemy territory that would sustain them for generations.

And for the Barcelona forward and Argentine talisman to lead his country to their first World Cup triumph since the 1986 win in Mexico's Aztec Stadium against West Germany would also be heavy with symbolism given the tribal rivalry with Brazil's own favoured son Neymar.

Neither set of supporters would ever forget the image of Messi taking possession of the World Cup in an arena rich in the history of Brazil's own number 10s such as Pele, Zico and latterly Neymar. It would be as close to perfection as was winning it in their own River Plate Stadium against the Dutch in 1978.

Miguel Angel Vicente, from Buenos Aires-based newspaper Diario Clarin, told BBC Sport: "Of course it is a special feeling to win the World Cup - but to come to a rival like Brazil and win in their country would be extra special.

"In Argentina, the fans have taken pleasure from the progress of the team. It is not a great team and we think Germany is the best team at the World Cup but this is one match - the dream lives on and to win the World Cup in Brazil would make the whole nation very proud."

He added: "Argentina's supporters will enjoy being in the World Cup final in Brazil when Brazil are not there."

There were other inspiring factors at work for Argentina too. There was a moment of appreciation for the legendary Argentina-born Alfredo Di Stefano, who died this week aged 88.

Coach Alejandro Sabella also spoke of the "tragic event" that was the death of Argentine journalist Jorge "Topo" Lopez from La Red Radio, who died on Wednesday when the taxi he was travelling in was hit by a stolen vehicle in Sao Paulo.

The World Cup now moves on to its conclusion - and judging from the noise generated by Argentina fans as their players addressed the media in Sao Paulo, they cannot wait to return to Rio.

Argentina supporters taunted their arch rivals Brazil, following their 7-1 semi-final defeat by Germany

Demand for a place inside the Maracana will be high on Sunday and just minutes after the final whistle on Wednesday there was talk of tickets costing $20,000 (£11,500) in secondary markets.

Sabella's side finally overcame their Dutch opponents to set up a repeat of the 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals (the latter the most recent occasion that Germany - albeit pre-unification - have lifted the trophy) on a night that could not have not have been in sharper contrast to the seismic events at the Estadio Mineirao 24 hours early.

While Brazil's thrashing by Germany offered goals, drama, and the full range of human emotions, this was a night for attrition, much of it dull.

It was a night for the tough tackling of defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano rather than the inspiration of his Barca team-mate Messi - graft in the Sao Paulo rain rather than flowing football in the warmth of Belo Horizonte. Inside Arena de Sao Paulo, Brazil's famous yellow colours - so prominent at almost every game - appeared to have been airbrushed out of the scene. Their party is over.

And in a tactical battle that only added to the entertainment deficit, Dutch coach Louis van Gaal's plan to subdue Messi by shadowing him with first Nigel de Jong and then Jordy Clasie was so successful that the Argentine captain did not touch the ball in the penalty area through the 120 minutes before penalties.

So Germany will be favourites on Sunday - but Argentina have a tough spine to complement the brilliance of Messi. They have progressed from all four of their World Cup semi-finals and have never trailed at this tournament.

For Van Gaal and the Dutch, there was only sadness. After losing to Spain in the final four years ago, they are the nearly men again.

There was sympathy in particular for Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar, whose magnificent performance did not deserve the fate of missing the first Dutch penalty, especially as Van Gaal seemed to suggest the dubious honour only befell him because two other unnamed team-mates declined.

And the struggles of Robin van Persie, who looked short of fitness, meant he had to be removed, denying Van Gaal the option of introducing substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul in the hope he could repeat his penalty shootout heroics against Costa Rica. First-choice keeper Jasper Cillessen had never saved a professional penalty before the shoot-out - he is still waiting.

As Van Gaal prepares for the meaningless World Cup window dressing of Saturday's third-place play-off against Brazil in Brasilia before he takes up the manager's role at Manchester United, the World Cup reaches its climax.

And for Messi, in particular, this is the stage to confirm his status as the world's greatest player. Some still questioned him, wrongly, before this World Cup on the grounds he had never quite distinguished himself at a major tournament. Winning one closes the debate.

He did, however, look jaded against the Dutch, as Argentine journalist Vicente acknowledged.

"We need Messi in his best condition," he said. "Now he is tired. In the first three matches of the World Cup he was very important but now he is not the same. Mascherano is the support for the team."

And would a win place him alongside Maradona, who also won one World Cup in Mexico in 1986?

"It is a very difficult question. They are different players. Maradona has different characteristics but I think Messi needs this title."

The elements are in place for the finale this World Cup deserves but for Brazil there is still that lingering fear that their pain may not be over.

Match facts

  • Argentina have progressed from all four of their World Cup semi-finals.
  • Argentina have not trailed at any point during this World Cup.
  • Argentina have now won four of their five penalty shootouts at World Cup finals.
  • It will be the third time that Argentina and Germany have contested the World Cup final (as West Germany in 1986 and 1990) - a record.
  • Lionel Messi did not touch the ball in the penalty area during the 120 minutes against the Dutch.
  • Seven of the 14 knockout games at this tournament so far have gone to extra time, the most since 1990 when eight did.



How they got there:

Germany 4-0 Portugal

Germany 2-2 Ghana

USA 0-1 Germany

Germany 2-1 Algeria (Extra Time)

France 0-1 Germany

Brazil 1-7 Germany



How they got there:

Argentina 2-1 Bosnia-Herzegovina

Argentina 1-0 Iran

Nigeria 2-3 Argentina

Argentina 1-0 Switzerland (Extra Time)

Argentina 1-0 Belgium

Netherlands 0-0 Argentina (Penalty Victory)

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Argentina will do their best to stifle the game and make it lacklustre/boring (look at every game they've been in so far for an example) and this will suit Germany who will just do to Argentina what they did to France - control midfield, play a slow, suffocating game and prevent the Argentines from getting anything on the counter.

1-0 or 2-0 to Germany. A setpiece goal to open with likely a late goal coming from Schurrle or Gotze.

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I think this could get very difficult for Germany. Argentina will play defensive and on the counter-attack, and with the likes of Kun, Messi, Higuain and Di Maria I have some real doubts in Germany winning this. The 7-1 win of Germany in the semi's was also a little distorted, as it was rather Brazil who was really really poor then that Germany won from a good side. Argentina will never give away as much space as Brazil did and if Germany cannot find spaces they are not at all so good, we could see that in the match against Algeria, but also a little in the match against Ghana. Germany is deadly effective when playing against sides who don't mark well and give away loads of space, without this they are beatable. I also think that with the passage of time and scoreline still being 0-0 the confidence of Argentina will only grow.

So this match will definitely get interesting, if Germany scores an early goal Argentina will have to attack more with Germany getting more spaces and it could easily become 4-0. Without an early goal and Argentina being able to hold on to a 0-0 for a long time I also see the possibility of them winning this 0-1/1-2.

Personally have more hopes for Germany as I think overall they have been the best side this tournament and deserve to win this throphy after losing WC semi-final 2006, EC final 2008, WC semi-final 2010, EC semi-final 2012 .

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Hopefully the Germans will win it. Deserve to after breezing through what was potentially a very difficult group, then encountering two tough sides in the knockout rounds but made them look so ordinary especially Brazil. Oh and after reaching so many semi finals and even losing in a few finals the past 12 years, they deserve a trophy.

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Win-Win for me. Germany are the final piece of my league bets from earlier in the season and me and some friends put some money on them pre-World Cup. Argentina are my team in the sweepstake on here and I'd dearly love Messi to win a World Cup. Whatever happens I'm extremely satisfied.

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just out of interest what is the equivalent hatred for Brazil/Argentina, just so can get idea of how bad it would be for Argentina to win a World Cup in Brazil. Germany winning it in England? England winning it in Scotland? Liverpool winning a league at Old Trafford? Spurs winning the CL at the Emirates?

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just out of interest what is the equivalent hatred for Brazil/Argentina, just so can get idea of how bad it would be for Argentina to win a World Cup in Brazil. Germany winning it in England? England winning it in Scotland? Liverpool winning a league at Old Trafford? Spurs winning the CL at the Emirates?

It's international football, so the rivalry in practice is not as strong as club level rivalries. Many Brazilians admire Argentine players and many Argentinians admire Brazilian players.

But when it comes to national teams, it's like if Germany won the World Cup final at Wembley.

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just out of interest what is the equivalent hatred for Brazil/Argentina, just so can get idea of how bad it would be for Argentina to win a World Cup in Brazil. Germany winning it in England? England winning it in Scotland?

As if Scotland could host the World Cup :D

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He got two matches.

Thought he was pretty great in Brazil vs Chile. No way were they going to let an Englishman whistle an Argentina vs Germany match though.

Or let the man who refereed the last final, either.

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