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Fiji Time: 11:44 PM on Friday 19 September

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The grand final

Rashneel Kumar
Sunday, July 13, 2014

I READ the following on a social site the other day.

"Brazil has Neymar. Argentina has Messi. Portugal has Cristiano. Germany has a team."

Very true.

Argentina with the undeniable support of its star skipper Lionel Messi has progressed through to the World Cup final and faces a formidable German side tomorrow at 7am (Fiji time).

Many are predicting Germany to come out victors, I feel it's Argentina's World Cup to lose. Not because I fancy the South Americans, they have reason more than Messi to hoist this World Cup.

If you know football well, you would agree that it's foolish to bet against a team which has someone like Messi. Especially in a stage where everything is on stake. The showdown.

The Argentines rely on him and there is no doubt about this. If you look at the tactics used by coach Alejandro Sabella, Messi is the one that the game plan is centred on. He is either the finisher or the provider.

Against Netherlands, Messi had very little space to weave his magic. Dutch midfielder Nigel De Jong did exceptionally well to lock down the Argentine magician but he did.

Against Germany, Messi will be marked heavily given the calibre of the more ambitious German midfield. They know if he is let loose, there is no stopping him.

Messi has won almost everything in football. The World Cup title is the one that has evaded him. He should be on top of his game tomorrow to become (maybe) the first footballer to win all the major titles in football history.

Another player that has stood out for Argentina is defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano.

He hasn't hit the top form with Barcelona but has shone brightly so far for the Argentines in this World Cup.

The Mascherano-led defence was pivotal in shutting out Dutch danger man Arjen Robben who has tormented many defences in Brazil. In doing so, Mascherano even suffered an embarrassing injury (http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/football/10256883/Argentina-star-reveals-embarrassing-injury).

He will be up against the best in the final (Thomas Mueller, Mesut Ozil or Toni Kroos) but looking at his form so far, Mascherano will be hard to beat in the backline.

It's home away from home for Argentina in Brazil. There are reportedly more than 100,000 Argentinians in Brazil and in the Maracana, that support will be vital.

Germany obviously will have the support of the home crowd as many Brazilians will want them to beat their football arch-rivals Argentina.

There are hardly any flaws in the German outfit. They have been in rampaging form so far. The only thing probably that doesn't favour them is history. No European team has ever won the World Cup on South American soil.

Will that change on Monday? It's a long wait but I tell you, it will be worthwhile.

Fixtures - Today 8am Brazil-Netherlands, Tomorrow 7am Germany-Argentina


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