Time: 3:00 PM ET (ABC's pregame show in the USA starts at 1:00 PM ET.)
Location: Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)
Television/Streaming: All Listings
Former Bayern players on Germany: Mats Hummels, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski
Current Bayern players on Argentina: None
Former Bayern players on Argentina: Martin Demichelis
It seems like only yesterday that we watched Brazil and Croatia kick off in the opening match at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Today is the final, and while it may not be the final that everyone expected, it's shaping up to be quite the match.
After Argentina clinched a berth in the final with their penalty shootout victory over the Netherlands, commentator John Champions declared the Final would be "Messi vs the Machine". To start this World Cup, it did seem as if Lionel Messi was carrying the Argentinians through matches; however, as of late, his stamp on the game has dwindled and yet Argentina is still here. They seem to be playing as a "team" better than any Argentinian side that I can remember in recent memory. While I don't believe that they can beat Germany without a standout performance from Messi, they're closer than they've been in a long time, and that is thanks to a solid defensive effort as much as anything else.
Before a ball was kicked in anger at the World Cup, it seemed as though many Germans were still trying to figure out a way to replace Jogi Löw. It wasn't that Löw was a bad coach, but he seemingly couldn't figure out how to get this ridiculously talented Germany team to get over the final hurdle and lift a trophy. Today, he's 90 minutes (Or 120 minutes, or 120 minutes and penalties) away from watching his captain hoist the nation's fourth World Cup trophy. Germany not only is the "team" that everyone talks about, but they also have world class players like Thomas Müller kicking about up top.
I came into the tournament thinking that this was going to finally be the Messi Show. He would lead his nation to victory in this World Cup, and I would place him above Pele and Diego Maradona on the "All Time Greats" list. Messi has been very good in this tournament, and he's on match away from immortality. It's not that I don't believe that Pele and Maradona were very clearly two of the greatest to ever play the game. It's the fact that you have one man in his seventies and one man in his fifties that feel the need to continually denigrate this generation of players as not being good enough to play in their era. Do you think you're going to see players like Ronaldo, Zidane, Pirlo, Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Müller, Schweinsteiger, etc continually come out over the next 20-60 years and talk about how great they were and how the players of today will never be as good as them? I doubt it.
However, familial ties will have me rooting for Germany in the final. Knowing that this is likely the final World Cup for Miroslav Klose, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Philipp Lahm means that, no matter how much I want to see Messi shut the mouths of old men, Germany must lift the trophy on this day. When Bayern Munich defeated Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League Final, it felt as if a weight had been lifted from the team. A third failure in four years would not have been acceptable. As the story goes, Robben scored, and Bayern knew they had conquered the world
For Germany, its been 24 long years since they last won the World Cup, and Franz Beckenbauer stated that with the fall of the Berlin wall, "The German national team will be unbeatable for years to come." The team hasn't been able to live up to Der Kaiser's lofty expectations, only winning the 1996 European Championship. Is this the year? Is this the year that Germany finally cast off their shackles and earn the title World Champions?
Philipp Lahm (c) - Jerome Boateng - Mats Hummels - Benedikt Höwedes
Bastian Schweinsteiger -
Sami Khedira Christoph Kramer
Thomas Müller - Toni Kroos - Mesut Özil
Substitutes: Roman Weidenfeller, Ron-Robert Zieler, Erik Durm, Per Mertesacker, Matthias Ginter, Kevin Großkreutz, Julian Draxler, Mario Götze, Lukas Podolski, Andre Schürrle
Pablo Zabaleta - Martin Demichelis - Ezequiel Garay - Marcos Rojo
Lucas Biglia - Javier Mascherano - Enzo Perez
Ezequiel Lavezzi - Lionel Messi (c) - Gonzalo Higuain
Substitutes: Sergio Agüero, Agustin Orion, Rodrigo Palacio, Fernando Gago, Mariano Andujar, Augusto Fernandez, Angel di Maria, Maxi Rodriguez, Hugo Campagnaro, Federico Fernandez, Ricardo Alvarez, Jose Maria Basanta