Lionel Messi v Manuel Neuer
Lionel Messi is likely to score and it will be interesting to see how Germany set up against him. Will they deploy one man to constantly stick to him like how Louis van Gaal did with Nigel de Jong, or will they take more of a Switzerland approach by just throwing three men at him every time he got the ball? Both to their credit worked fairly well, but inevitably, Messi still managed to get through. Which is why when he does, Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will be there to face him.
Neuer has been the best goalkeeper of the World Cup and has surprised many by his such impressive, yet risky, sweeping runs. If he feels he can get the ball, then Neuer will charge out of his box to clear the danger. Only once has he been slightly uncertain and this was for Oscar’s consolation goal for Brazil when Germany won 7-1.
Messi will find a way through the defence - that’s almost a certainty - but the interesting part of this battle will be seeing how Neuer reacts to it. Knowing his skill and pace, will Neuer risk it?
Thomas Muller v Ezequiel Garay
Being only two goals off breaking a World Cup record by winning successive Golden Boots is a huge incentive for Muller. Not that he needs one. The Bayern star has shown tremendous form in this World Cup and has been at the forefront of Germany’s attacks. He started well with his hat-trick against Portugal and has shown it right through to scoring Germany’s opening goal against Brazil.
Ezequiel Garay has been the rock at the heart of Argentina’s defence and a huge reason for them only conceding just three goals this entire World Cup campaign. His strength, ariel presence and tackling have all been superb.
Can Garay do enough to stop a man who will be trying with every sinew of muscle in his body to score?
Sergio Aguero v Mats Hummels
Having had a very poor World Cup campaign on a personal level so far, Aguero will be determined to raise his game against Germany. For a born athlete and competitor, it’s in Aguero’s nature to succeed and play well. Which is why the world should see an entirely different Aguero for the final - after all, there is no better time.
Standing in his and Argentina’s way is arguably the defender of the tournament. Hummels has been phenomenal, scoring as well making vital interceptions and tackles.
Hummels will the favourite to win this battle, but as we’ve seen many times in the Premier League, once Aguero hits form, he is unstoppable.