After the 7-1 demolition of a sorry Brazilian side, the onus is now on Germany to finish the job and bring the trophy back home – and secure that coveted fourth star. Wir für Vier has been one of the refrains of this World Cup campaign, and just one more match against Argentina separates the Nationalmannschaft from becoming the first European team to claim the world crown on Latin American soil.
At the beginning of the tournament, many commentators would have Germany as one of the favourites, but doomed to make a semi-final exit against the tournament hosts. Both teams would follow their designated baths, but in that historical encounter in Belo Horizonte everything would be turned on its head in the most wonderful way possible. Well, wonderful if happened to be supporting Germany.
In 1986 an Argentinian team inspired by the mercurial Diego Maradona would win 3-2 in Mexico City, in 1990 a hard-fought and somewhat acrimonious encounter in Rome would be settled by Andy Brehme’s 85th-minute penalty, and in 2014 the two teams meat again – a historic and record-breaking third meeting on the world’s biggest footballing stage.
For most pundits and the bookmakers, Germany are the clear favourites. In contrast to the Argentinians’ stodgy play and defensive approach that has garnered onto two goals in three games – two of which would go beyond the regulation ninety minutes – the Mannschaft have offered pure football, excitement and goals galore. On paper Joachim Löw’s side are some distance ahead, but this is the World Cup final, and Argentina will be as determined as ever to secure what would be for them a third World Cup triumph.
Löw’s side appear to hold all of the cards going into the game. They are in far better form with over twice as many goals as their opponents – and only one more conceded – and have also had an extra day to rest with their opponent also having a far more energy-sapping semi-final. The atmosphere in the Maracanã is also likely to favour the Nationalelf, with the majority of the Brazilians in the crowd unlikely to shout for their neighbours and fierce rivals – even in the wake of their team’s 7-1 drubbing.
Head to Head Record and History
Like quarter-final opponents and France and semi-final adversaries Brazil, Germany have a negative overall record against Argentina, with seven wins (including one penalty shootout), four draws and nine defeats. However, in the competitive matches (including the Copa de Oro “Mini-WM” in 1980/81, Berlin mini-tournament in 1998 and the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup) their record is considerably healthier with five wins, two draws and two defeats:
08.06.1958 FIFA World Cup First Phase, Malmö: 3-1 (Corbatta 3. / H. Rahn 32., 79., Seeler 42.)
16.07.1966 FIFA World Cup First Phase, Birmingham: 0-0
01.01.1981 Copa de Oro, Montevideo: 1-2 (Hrubesch 42. / Kaltz og 85., Ramón Díaz 88.)
29.06.1986 FIFA World Cup Final, Mexico City: 2-3 (Kh. Rummenigge 74., Völler 83. / Brown 23., Valdano (
55., Burruchaga 85.)
02.04.1988 Four-Nation Tournament 3rd Place Playoff, Berlin: 1-0 (Matthäus 30. / -)
08.07.1990 FIFA World Cup Final, Roma: 1-0 (Brehme pen. 85 / -)
21.06.2005 FIFA Confederations Cup First Phase, Nürnberg: 2-2 (Kurányi 29., Asamoah 51. / Riquelme 32., Cambiasso 74)
30.06.2006 FIFA World Cup Quarter-Final, Berlin: 1-1, 5-3pso (Klose 80. / Ayala 49.)
03.07.2010 FIFA World Cup Quarter-Final, Cape Town: 4-0 (Müller 3., Klose 68., 89., Friedrich 74. / -)
While the final in 1986 will always be remembered for Maradona’s heroics, the meeting four years later in Italy would see the Albiceleste finish the game with just nine men with a performance that would define their entire tournament. The meeting in 2006 in Berlin would also produce some unsavoury scenes at the end as the Argentinians again lost their heads, but in 2010 in Cape Town a rampant German team would give their opponents little reason to complain with a comprehensive 4-0 thrashing.
The majority of Argentina’s victories over Germany have come in friendly internationals, and they could perhaps take some confidence from the last meeting between the two sides which would result in a 3-1 win for Alejandro Sabella’s side in Frankfurt. However, that game would largely be shaped by the somewhat unlucky dismissal of German ‘keeper Ron-Robert Zieler after half an hour with the game still poised at 0-0.
While Germany’s are coming into the final off the back of their mauling of Brazil, Argentina have made heavy weather of things. The Albiceleste have won all of their six games in Brazil, have have never really convincing at any stage. A close 2-1 win over tournament debutants Bosnia and Herzegovina would be followed by an injury-time win over an unlucky Iran, and they would be pushed all the way by Nigeria before running out 3-2 winners.
In the second phase Sabella’s team would overcome a gritty Switzerland side before snatching a winner two minutes before the end of extra-time, and in their quarter-final against a disappointing Belgium the game the one goal would again be enough to separate the two sides. This would be followed by a dull semi-final against the Netherlands, which would see the the South Americans emerge triumphant in a penalty shootout after a tedious 0-0 draw.
Looking at the paths of the two finalists, there is an uncanny similarity to 1990 – the only difference is that Argentina are have been far more disciplined, with just six yellow cards in their six matches.
Last eight matches (latest first): W*WWWWWWW
Without doubt, Argentina’s biggest danger is presented by the little midfield wizard Lionel Messi, who after a dismal World Cup in 2010 would begin his 2014 campaign in fine. He would get off the mark with what would prove to be the winning goal against Bosnia, but would set the early stages of the tournament alight with his brilliant last-gasp winner against the Iranians. Two more strikes against Nigeria would leave him joint top of the tournament goalscorers’ chart, but in the knockout games he would be well contained.
Despite being neutralised in the three knockout matches – he would disappear for long spells in the semi-final – the unpredictable Messi remains a clear and present danger to the Germans in Rio.
With the dangerous Real Madrid winger Ángel di María struggling for fitness, there are few other real recognised dangermen in this Argentinian side. Among these are Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero – himself only returning from injury – and the inconsistent Gonzalo Higuaín, who would score the winner against Belgium.
This third meeting in the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina makes it the most popular final fixture in the history of the tournament.
Argentina have not beaten any German team in a competitive international since their 3-2 victory in 1986.
Should Germany win the tournament, it would be their first FIFA World Cup triumph since unification in 1990.
Miroslav Klose has got himself on the scoreboard in both of the two previous World Cup meetings between the two countries.
So, before tomorrow final showdown I will leave you with a final message. Let’s do this, Jungs!