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Sunday, 13 July 2014

World Cup 2014 Final Pick- Germany v Argentina (July 13th)

This has been one of the best World Cup Finals that I have ever enjoyed and easily the best edition of the tournament since 1998 in my opinion.

Through the last four weeks we have seen some memorable team performances including the reigning World Champions Spain being dismantled by the Netherlands, but the German crushing of Brazil in the Semi Final will be one of those games that is talked about forever.

There is little doubt in my mind that it was the most surreal game that I have ever witnessed- Brazil just don't lose games 1-7, let alone in World Cup Semi Finals and even rarer that it was a Semi Final played at home. It was as disgraceful a performance I have seen from a defence that seemingly parted like the Red Sea every time Germany came forward.

The second Semi Final was a complete contrast to the first with a nervous game played by both Argentina and the Netherlands, one that produced little in goalmouth action until the penalty shoot out. This time Louis Van Gaal couldn't bring on a substitute goalkeeper and it was Argentina that progressed to a Final for the first time in twenty-four years and an opportunity to win the greatest prize in the home of their biggest rivals.

Hopefully the Final will be a memorable one, although the last time these teams met at this stage in the 1990 World Cup Final, it was anything but a great game. Of course that was the second consecutive World Cup Final between West Germany and Argentina with one win apiece coming into the 2014 edition.

Germany v Argentina Pick: The first thing I noticed with the prices for the World Cup Final was the fact that the Germans are considered healthy favourites to win the game within ninety minutes. That surprised me considering some of the performances Germany have had in the tournament, but the 7-1 win over Brazil in the Semi Final has clearly impressed the layers to the point that Germany are considered a strong favourite.

Argentina have also failed to score in two of their last three games (within ninety minutes) and it would be fair to say that they have yet to really spark in the tournament. Lionel Messi scored his four goals in the Group Stage, but has not looked at his best in the knock out stage, while the likes of Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria may not be at full health.

On the other hand, an injury forced Joachim Loew's hands in moving Philip Lahm into a more comfortable full back slot and that has seen improved performances from Germany. The 'false nine' position has been removed with Miroslav Klose a legitimate forward and that has helped Germany look more threatening going forward with the likes of Thomas Moeller and Mesut Ozil attacking from deep.

It will be up to the likes of Javier Mascherano to shut down the German attack before it gets to the defence, but Argentina have been pretty solid defensively through the last four weeks. Not many goals have been conceded, but Germany have enough about their attacks to cause problems and I haven't forgotten the problems that both Nigeria and Iran caused Argentina in the Group.

I would be expecting Germany to be able to do the same, although nerves are going to play a big factor in this Final- both teams have so much to lose if they fail to pick up the title and that could make both managers set up their teams to counter what the other does rather than a proactive approach to win the game.

If Argentina score first, they have been disciplined enough to prevent Germany getting back into the game... On the other hand, if Germany go in front, they could pick off the South Americans as they push forward to get back into the game.

Of the two teams, I have been more impressed with Germany over the course of the last four weeks and they do look a team that is ready to shake off the 'nearly men' tag and win a first major international tournament since 1996. Germany have reached the Final in 2002, the Semi Finals in 2006 and 2010 in the World Cup, while also being Semi Finalists in 2012 and Finalists in 2008 at the European Championships and those experiences may set up this team which is reaching their peak to go an extra step.

Argentina may have the best player on the park, but Germany play as a great unit and there are match winners littered in their squad so I will back the side to become the first European team to win in the Americas.

MY PICK: Germany to Win @ 2.33 Pinnacle (2 Units)

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