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World Cup Today, 13/7/14

The historical home of football may be England, if that’s alright with FIFA, but the spiritual home of the most beautiful sport is certainly Brazil, and in some ways it is a shame the hosts won’t be in the final to induce that hysteria and atmosphere we’ve all enjoyed so far from the fans, but we still have an epic battle ahead of us. In one corner we have a fairly average Argentina led by one or two stellar attacking talents, while the other contains the best squad in international football and a collection of midfielders that is almost absurd in terms of depth and talent. If this game comes down to the possession battle in midfield even the incredible Javier Mascherano won’t be enough to save the Argentinian team, but in a World Cup final anything can happen, and these sides are both able to win despite the German’s having the midfield advantage. Defensively the strength of the Germans is well known, and the main decision for the manager will probably be whether to deploy Philip Lahm in central midfield, at full back or simply to give the best defender in the world the job of keeping Leo Mess quiet, something only a handful of players are even capable of at their best. We know Messi is capable of scoring against any defence, Lahm or not, but the temptation to attempt to sacrifice his greatest asset in exchange for Messi may be too great for Jogi Low to exist, and with Lahm definitely able and Messi looking tired it may turn out to be a tactical masterstroke. Up front, it is German forward Thomas Müller with the best chance of claiming the prize for top goal scorer, and with three assists and five goals it is clear Bayern’s finder of space is supremely comfortable playing at the highest levels of world football. Speaking of the highest level, Lionel Messi is just a goal behind his German rival in the running for the award, and that’s pretty impressive when you consider that Müller has been involved in a couple of high-scoring games, where most Argentinian matches have been tighter affairs. Dortmund star Mats Hummels was rested as a precaution against tendonitis in the second half of the Brazil game, and the eleven that started against the hosts. For Argentina Angel Di Maria is unlikely to be fit to start, but Sergio Aguero is ready to go and Marcos Rojo is expected to play despite having missed most of Friday training with an ankle problem.

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