Well, at least Brazil wasn’t shut out. Germany defeated Brazil 7-1 in the World Cup semifinals, the most lopsided defeat of Brazil since 1934, and the first time Brazil has lost at home since 1975. This was the third World Cup that Germany’s core has played together and their chemistry was evident throughout. The first goal, scored by Thomas Muller was a simple miscommunication as he was left unmarked by the far post on a corner kick. The flood gates opened after the second German goal, and the Brazilians were left floundering after giving up four goals in six minutes. Brazil did not get on the board until the 90th minute on a goal by Oscar. It bears mentioning that Brazil was without two of its best players. Neymar was forced to sit with a broken vertebrae and Thiago Silva was suspended after receiving a second yellow card for the tournament in the quarterfinal match against Colombia.
Argentina overcame the Netherlands in penalties (4-2) after playing to a draw in the first 120 minutes of action. Both sides had plenty of opportunities throughout the match to gain the upper hand but were never able to capitalize. While the Netherlands will likely continue whining about the referees playing favorites with South American teams, it was Argentina that had a goal wrongly disallowed for being offside late in the match.
Germany rolls into the World Cup final with a ton of momentum, and one has to wonder if this German squad will be the first European team to win in the western hemisphere. Standing in their way is Argentina, the squad led by the best footballer in the world Lionel Messi. Messi’s squad has marched through the tournament with confidence, something that has been lacking for Argentina in previous Cups.
Argentina advanced from a fairly weak group (F) and convinced many that they were destined for another World Cup disappointment with their play early on. After beating Switzerland and Belgium each 1-0 they were still not showing the kind of tenacity you would expect from a semifinalist. One can’t argue with the results, though, as they once again willed themselves to victory, this time over a strong Netherlands team to get them to the finals.
A World Cup victory would cement Messi’s legacy as one of the best players of all time. Messi has long been considered the most talented player in the world but has often been knocked for his lack of big game wins. Fortunately, soccer is an 11 vs 11 sport so blaming only Messi for Argentina’s struggles in the World Cup was unfair, but the star always gets all of the blame.
Argentina is also anchored by Sergio Romero. Romero is rarely talked about when discussing the best goalkeepers in the world, but his steadiness between the sticks is exactly what Argentina needs. Romero is not prone to the mental lapses of other inexperienced goalkeepers that teams are often faced to rely on, and this leads to his confidence being sky high. He is only trending upward after clean sheeting the Netherlands for 120 minutes and then stopping two out of four penalty kicks when stops were most needed.
Germany won the Group of Death (G) to advance past the group stage. Germany then limped to victory over Algeria 2-1 before edging France 1-0. Though Germany has consistently been winning the entire tournament, they were not dominating the opposition like you would expect. Obviously, that changed in the semifinals.
Germany is led by a balanced attacking unit that is spearheaded by Muller. Muller is often flanked by Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos, and together they create a dangerous midfield that can outsmart any defense. With Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose coming off the bench they have firepower in spades.
Germany’s biggest strength stands in their own goal in Manuel Neuer. Neuer often makes up for a suspect defense with spectacular goalkeeping. He has the reflexes and wrists necessary to make the incredible saves, and the intelligence to set his defense correctly for any oncoming attack. Neuer will have to be at his best in order for Germany to stand up to Argentina, and he is more than up for the challenge.
One has to feel bad for soccer fans in Brazil. Their hated rival Argentina advances to the final and has an opportunity to celebrate winning the World Cup on Brazilian land. While it would be logical to support any team facing your rival, does it make much sense to support the team that just destroyed yours? While Germany may have won Brazils respect with their 7-1 victory, I guarantee you it did not win them any fans. Running up the score rarely does.
While Germany is sure to be the favorites heading into the match on Sunday at 2:00pm, I believe that Argentina will continue their winning ways and give Messi the World Cup trophy he so desperately deserves.