Your daily World Cup tip sheet for who’s playing when, and what to watch for. We'll deliver a new briefing the evening before every game day, setting up the matches and pinpointing the underlying storylines.
Sunday, July 13
Beating Brazil by six goals in the semi-final was an unbelievable feat, one that automatically makes the Germans the favourites to take home the World Cup title. Yes, Brazil’s defending was deplorable, but you have to admire the way Die Mannschaft sensed their opponent’s vulnerability early and exploited it (seven times). They are fit and peaking, though manager Joachim Loew and his players have stressed they aren’t over confident after the easy semi-final win.
Argentina enters the championship match having survived a defensive battle against the Netherlands that was settled by penalty kicks. For all the offensive fire power they possess - Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel di Maria - La Albiceleste have shown an ability to grind out results in Brazil, keeping four clean sheets in six matches. That will be a tough task against the German duo of Miroslav Klose and Thomas Mueller, who have a combined 26 World Cup goals.
The 7-1 thrashing of Brazil also showed how dangerous the German midfield can when it presses forward; Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira and Andre Schurrle all found the net in the win and did whatever they pleased with ball in the middle of the pitch. The other man in the midfield to watch is Bastian Schweinsteiger, who has played a deeper role for the Germans since the quarter-finals and will likely be tasked with keeping Messi in check. If Argentina can’t find a way to shake their star loose for a moment or two of magic, it’s difficult to see how they can win.