With the decisive match in the 2014 FIFA World Cup just a few days away, predictions are flying on which of the two remaining teams will win the title. In terms of individual players, most eyes will likely be on Germany’s Miroslav Klose, who with his goal in the semi-finals against Brazil on Tuesday became the new world record holder for goals in World Cup play at 16. Many will also be watching Thomas Muller, who also has the record in his sights, trailing Klose by just two goals. Betmakers and experts, however, are deigning to keep an even closer watch on Lionel Messi in the FIFA World Cup Finals, as the forward is the one to carry the underdogs Argentina to victory.
In looking at semi-finals alone, Germany would seem to be heavily favored to win the cup, as its victory over Brazil was very nearly a shutout, and served to be the highest scoring game in World Cup history. Argentina’s win against the Netherlands, on the other hand, was not nearly as complete, as the only goal was scored in a penalty kick tie breaker. The statistics currently favor Germany 6:1 over Argentina. From a purely numbers standpoint, betmakers and experts alike will be focusing more on the spread and on who will score the most goals on the Germany side: Klose or Muller.
Many say that Germany’s game has also been more consistent than Argentina’s throughout the tournament, and that Argentina has only come as far as it has because of Lionel Messi. In club play, where he is a forward for Barcelona FC, Messi is considered to have some of the best stats in the world, has driven his club to a number of UEFA titles, and is currently Bacrelona’s all-time top scorer with 381 career goals for the club. In World Cup play, Messi has not done nearly as well, however, and fans tend to blame the lackluster play of the rest of the team for his modest results. It is very apparent what Messi is capable of when he has the backing of a legendary team like Barcelona FC, but in the World Cup, the question remains as to whether the rest of his team will step up. Each game so far this year has been a narrow win for Argentina, and Messi has felt the pressure to perform and pull his team along. Messi has had one player, Angel DiMaria, complement his game and score Argentina’s only other goal. Now in the 72 hours before the FIFA World Cup finals, Messi’s one solid support is out on a thigh injury, leaving Messi to face all of the scoring pressure alone, while DiMaria watches from the sidelines.
While the general consensus has been that Lionel Messi has been pulling his team along throughout the tournament, Argentina is still one of the top-ranked teams in the world, and this year’s World Cup has been nothing if not full of upsets. With all eyes watching Messi as the one who may accomplish yet another, the FIFA World Cup Finals in 2014 is promised to deliver many more surprises and exciting action in the final 90 minutes of the tournament.
Commentary by Layla Klamt