World Cup final to go right down to the wire

Bill Esdaile
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AN ARGENTINA victory on Sunday night in the Maracana over Germany would be the final insult for a Brazilian nation left battered and bruised after the 7-1 drubbing they took at the hands of the Germans on Tuesday.

Argentina were my 9/2 outright pick at the start of the tournament, but have hardly set it alight. So much was made of their attacking riches and it was their perceived weak defence that was expected to be their main problem.

However, it’s the forwards that have struggled while the back line has been immense. They’ve now keep nine clean sheets in their last 11 outings, including three in a row ahead of Sunday’s showpiece.

Lionel Messi hit four goals in the group stages but has been shackled since. Louis van Gaal ensured he was man-marked all game in the semi-finals and he was so restricted he didn’t even have a touch inside the Holland box. Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Rodrigo Palacio and Ezequiel Lavezzi have one goal between them.

But this is a tough outfit full of grinders who are yet to fall behind. They have slowly built up momentum and made both Belgium and the Dutch look poor in their last two matches, admittedly while not looking like world-beaters themselves.

Germany head to Rio de Janeiro as the 11/8 favourites with Star Sports on the back of mauling Brazil. It’s difficult to express just how bad the hosts were in that game and that freak result shouldn’t detract from the reality that Joachim Low’s team have been pretty ordinary for much of the last month; surviving a fright against Ghana, squeezing past the USA, then needing extra-time to beat Algeria.

This will be the third World Cup final contested by this pair, a record, and the score is one apiece. Diego Maradona inspired his team to glory in 1986 and his successor Messi will be expected to raise his game for what looks set to be a close encounter.

Low’s men have been the most complete team in Brazil and a midfield packed with talent is supported by a mean defence, headed by the excellent Mats Hummels, and backed up with arguably the best goalkeeper in the world in Manuel Neuer.

Thomas Mueller is looking to become the first player to win two Golden Boot awards, although he’ll need to net to wrestle it from James Rodriguez. is refunding all losing first goalscorer wagers if Mueller or new record World Cup scorer Miroslav Klose score first.

La Albiceleste look a backable price at 5/2 considering they were as short as 4s pre-tournament, but this is another tie that looks set to go the distance and the draw at 9/4 with Star Sports is the bet.

Spread bettors can sell Germany’s supremacy at 0.2 with Sporting Index and that’s excellent value if you fancy the underdogs, as even a draw will make a small profit. The time of the first match goal can be bought at 45 for those expecting a cagey affair.
The 6/5 with Star Sports on Argentina lifting the trophy looks on the big side and, without having to worry about how the match is decided, looks worth taking.

Draw at 9/4 with Star Sports
Sell Germany/Argentina at 0.2 with Sporting Index
Argentina to lift the trophy at 6/5 with Star Sports