Sunday, July 13, 2014

The World Cup Final

Here are the latest odds:

Germany to win:  4 to 6
Argentina to win:  6 to 5

So the Germans are mild favorites, which makes sense because they've been the best team in the tournament.  Just to recap, here's how Germany got here:

Group Stage:
06/16/14:  Germany 4, Portgual 0
06/21/14:  Germany 2, Ghana 2
06/26/14:  Germany 1, United States 0
Germany wins Group G

Knockout Stage:
06/30/14:  Germany 2, Algeria 1 (after extra time)
07/04/14:  Germany 1, France 0
07/08/14:  Germany 7, Brazil 1

In six games, Germany has outscored its opponents 17-4.

And here's the path for Argentina:

Group Stage:
06/15/14:  Argentina 2, Bosnia and Herzegovina 1
06/21/14:  Argentina 1, Iran 0
06/25/14:  Argentina 3, Nigeria 2
Argentina wins Group F

Knockout Stage:
07/01/14:  Argentina 1, Switzerland 0 (after extra time)
07/05/14:  Argentina 1, Belgium 0
07/09/14:  Argentina 0, Netherlands 0 (Argentina won 4-2 on penalty kicks)

In six games, Argentina has outscored its opponents 8-3.

So there's no question that Germany is the better team, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they will be the better team today.  Argentina is a tough, gritty, defense-first team -- who also happens to have the best player in the world.  They will try to keep Germany from scoring, while hoping that somehow Lionel Messi can create a goal for them.  Unless Germany can get on the board early, the Germans are in for a long, hard day.  Just ask the Dutch.  On the other hand, if Germany can get an early lead, Argentina will be in big, big, trouble.  Just ask the French.

One more interesting fact:  no team from Europe has ever won the World Cup in the Western Hemisphere -- every World Cup on this side of the ocean has been won by Brazil, Argentina, or Uruguay.  We will see if Argentina can maintain that perfect record today.

32 comments:

  1. Uniform watch: The Germans are wearing their legendary all-white home uniforms, with some red and black trim on the shirt. Argentina is wearing its away uniforms, which are a lovely all-blue combination. It's a great uniform pairing -- the same one these teams employed when they met for the 1990 World Cup Final.

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  2. Oh, Argentina has gold numerals on their blue jerseys -- they look like UCLA. That is a very nice uniform.

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  3. In the 29th minute, Argentina appears to take the lead! But they were offsides. Nevertheless, they look very dangerous so far.

    30 minutes:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

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  4. 35 minutes:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

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  5. 40 minutes:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

    This game is being played in a style that Argentina likes. Most of the time, the Argentines are sitting back, soaking up pressure -- and then every few minutes, Argentina gets a breakaway on the counter-attack. So far, Argentina has looked the more dangerous of the two teams.

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  6. Half Time:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

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  7. 55 minutes:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

    The Argentines continue to control the pace of the game.

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  8. 60 minutes:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

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  9. 65 minutes:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

    The Argentine fans (who love defense as much as anyone in Pittsburgh) are really enjoying themselves.

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  10. 75 minutes:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

    Messi just tried to win it, but his kick from distance went wide of the German goal.

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  11. 80 minutes:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

    Germany had a pretty decent shot just now, but Kroos missed the goal. Nevertheless, Argentina still looks very solid at the back.

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  12. 85 minutes:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

    For a second there, Messi had the ball on his foot just outside the German penalty box, but one of the German defenders made a great play to knock it away.

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  13. 90 minutes:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

    Three minutes of stoppage time. At this point, I will be surprised if Germany wins without going to penalty kicks.

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  14. Full Time:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

    Only twice has the World Cup Final been decided by penalty kicks -- in 1994 (Brazil over Italy) and 2006 (Italy over France). In 2010, the score was 0-0 after 90 minutes, but Spain got a winner in extra time.

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  15. Argentina has yet to have a shot on target. Germany has had three.

    Argentina has now played four complete knockout games without giving up a goal.

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  16. This is the third time in a row that the World Cup Final has gone to extra time.

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  17. 95 minutes:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

    In the 96th minute, Argentina actually had a shot on goal, but of course it came to nothing.

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  18. 100 minutes:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

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  19. 105 minutes:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

    Only 15 minutes left now.

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  20. Personally, I think that if the game ends 0-0, they should make everyone come back and play again on Tuesday. Then we would have seen some action today. But as long as FIFA sticks with this format, we're usually going to get this type of game.

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  21. Now at some point, you are going to think: "If Lionel Messi is the best player in the world, shouldn't he do something -- anything -- to try to win this game for his team, so that they don't have to take a chance on penalty kicks?"

    But that is not how big-time soccer rolls. You play your part -- when people start free-lancing, teams can get beat 7-1.

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  22. 110 minutes:

    Germany 0 - 0 Argentina

    Ten minutes left. Both teams are playing with pretty much the same amount of urgency they showed 110 minutes ago.

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  23. Hooray for Germany! In the 112th minute, the Germans have finally -- finally -- broken through an Argentine defense that had been unscored upon in the knockout rounds. From the far corner, the ball was passed in to Mario Goetze, who had broken free in the penalty box. Goetze caught the ball on his chest, and then absolutely blasted a perfect shot that the Argentine goalkeeper had no chance to stop. A spectacular play.

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  24. 115 minutes:

    Germany 1 - 0 Argentina

    Now, for the first time in weeks, Argentina is on the attack. But they've got less than 10 minutes to go.

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  25. Now we've got a game. In the 117th minute, Messi had a chance to tie the game, but his header went just over the crossbar.

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  26. 120 minutes:

    Germany 1 - 0 Argentina

    Two minutes of stoppage time.

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  27. But now Messi has been taken down just short of the penalty box. He will be given a free kick! This will probably be Argentina's last chance, so he will need to make the most of it.

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  28. After a really long time, Messi kicks the ball -- and it soars harmlessly over the goal. The Germans will get a goal kick.

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  29. And that's your ball game. For the first time in history, a European country has won the World Cup in the Western Hemisphere:

    After Extra Time:

    Germany 1 - 0 Argentina

    Germany wins the World Cup for the first time in 24 years.

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  30. Now I'm ready for some American football.

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