The football purists have got the outcome they wanted with the best two teams, Germany and Argentina, reaching the final, and the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, getting the chance to showcase his talents on football’s biggest stage. However, bookies may well have overreacted to Germany’s 7-1 drubbing of semi-final opponents Brazil.
At the start of the World Cup Finals, Argentina were strong second favourites at 4/1 with Germany third favourites at 7/1 – yet, having both reached the final, Germany are as low as 4/6 to be crowned champions whilst Argentina are a best-priced 5/4.
There’s no doubting that Germany put up one of the most impressive all-round team displays in World Cup history when dispatching Brazil in emphatic style, however the hosts had lost their best two players and where probably vastly overrated to start with. They also completely fell apart, something which Argentina are unlikely to do.
It’s also fair to say that Germany haven’t looked anywhere near as impressive in any of their group games against Portugal, Ghana or USA, or in scraping past Algeria in the round of 16, or in defeating a slightly overrated French team in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile Argentina, whilst not massively impressing themselves in winning their three group games, or in needing extra-time to see off a well-organised Swiss side, looked a side that would be extremely hard to beat when knocking out Belgium and a Dutch side who probably wished they’d gone for glory in extra-time rather than relying on luck in a penalty shootout.
Furthermore, whilst most teams have implemented tactics of man-marking or double-teaming Messi, Germany are unlikely to change their style to give the maestro special treatment, and it may be that he finds a little more space in which to influence the final, whilst Mascherano has marshalled the Argentinean defence brilliantly in the last two games.
Having tipped Argentina before the tournament started and backed them again after the group stage when their odds remained unchanged, there’s a temptation to lay them on the exchanges to guarantee a profit – but I do still fancy them strongly enough to resist, whilst I definitely think they’re the value at 5/4 to be crowned Champions for anyone who’s not backed them yet.
The final itself is likely to be a cagey affair, unless there’s an early goal, and I wouldn’t put anyone off backing the 0-0 draw (13/2), though we can only hope it’s 3-3 (125/1). Either way, with extra-time beckoning, the draw looks the ninety-minute call (9/4).
Purists will undoubtedly like to see Messi score the winning goal, which would be a fitting tribute to a player who always entertains whatever your allegiances (last goal-scorer 5/1).