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WORLD CUP

Praying for a wild World Cup finish 0

By Morris Dalla Costa, The London Free Press

Argentina's goalkeeper Sergio Romero gives a thumbs-up as he arrives for a training session ahead of their 2014 World Cup final match against Germany in Vespasiano, July 10, 2014. (REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci)

Argentina's goalkeeper Sergio Romero gives a thumbs-up as he arrives for a training session ahead of their 2014 World Cup final match against Germany in Vespasiano, July 10, 2014. (REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - 

For those of you who pray, take a minute and drop a few words into the big guy’s ear asking that the 2014 World Cup final provides a fitting end to this month long celebration of soccer.

The ideal ending between Argentina and Germany would be a 4-3 game finish with either team winning. The first half would end 1-1 and then starting at the 70-minute mark teams would alternate scoring a goal every five minutes until the end of the match.

Of course that’s an unbelievable fairytale finish but you can always dream.

If one was to truly predict what kind of game Sunday’s World Cup final between Argentina and Germany would be, it would certainly not promise the kind of crazy finish many hope for.

Reality dictates that the game will likely be very conservative unless someone gets lucky and scores an early goal.

The form chart has Germany carrying the bulk of the play pounding away at an Argentina team that’s strength has morphed from offence to defence.

Argentina will attempt to follow the pattern of success they’ve established over its past three games. Stay organized defensively and avoid leaving any openings or making mistakes.

If Germany gets a little impatient and presses too many men forward, Argentina will take the opportunity to counterattack and try to steal a goal.

Millions of fans who love offensive soccer pray Germany decides to throw its considerable attacking depth forward and scores an early goal.

The game would really be afoot then, as Sherlock Holmes would say.

But World Cup finals are not like other championship games. Not many players have won a World Cup and the idea of lifting the trophy makes even the most ruthless players a little more conservative and makes high-risk, high-reward players think twice before doing something that jeopardizes their team’s chance at a title.

Some players will deny feeling fear in a final, yet it is actually the overriding emotion for many.

The pressure is so intense, the scrutiny so great and the criticism so virulent that it takes a player with great strength to play the game the way he normally does.

Germany will be looking for its fourth World Cup title. It saw what Argentina’s defence did to the Netherlands and understands that Argentina will be patient enough to go to penalties if it has to. After all, Germany is heavily favoured.

Argentina will attempt to do to Germany what they did to the Netherlands. They will sit back and allow Ezequiel Garay, Pablo Zabaleta, Javier Mascherano, Martin Demichelis and others to absorb all the pressure until Germany wears out.

Then Argentina will steal a goal or win it in a shootout.

But Germany isn’t the Netherlands.

When Germany steps onto the pitch they will be a well-rested team that played a laugher against Brazil in the semifinals. Technically, the Germans will have had an extra day of rest because Argentina played its semi a day later. The ease of their win over Brazil, combined with the intense 120 minutes La Albiceleste played against the Dutch, actually gives them a much better advantage.

Unlike its game against the Netherlands, Argentina will have to do a lot more than stop two players. After Argentina were able to shut down Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie the Dutch were done.

Argentina may be able to stop Thomas Muller or Miroslav Klose, but the Germans have such enormous depth they can keep running out offensive players like Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle and Toni Kroos to batter away at the Argentines.

It will be difficult for a tired Argentina to shut all those players down for 90 minutes.

Let’s hope they can’t. Let’s hope Germany or Argentina get one early. Let’s hope this game turns into a wild denouement for a tournament that has been unpredictable and at many times has provided fans with a ride they aren’t used to.

It’s a long shot, but the way this tournament has gone the unexpected has often happened.

Besides, you can always pray.

*Goal GIFs via @myregularface of GIFgoldmine.com

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