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As Germany & Argentina face-off in the final of the World Cup, we have compiled an XI of the best players from each team based on their performances solely in this tournament, with positional strength a criteria.
Sweeper ‘keeper extraordinaire, Neuer has underlined the fact that he is one of the best in the business. Quick off his line and boasting of excellent shot stopping ability, the German has been maintained his high standards. He didn’t have much to do the in 7-1 drubbing of hosts but an excellent double save to thwart Paulinho was noteworthy.
One of the best footballers of the modern era, Lahm was played in a midfield role in the early stages of the tournament. He has been restored to his customary position and will no doubt remain there for the final. As with all successful full-backs, Lahm balances both his attacking and defensive responsibilities admirably and will be hoping to captain his side to glory.
A troublesome virus aside, Hummels has enjoyed another impressive tournament on the world stage. His best performance came against France where not only did he rise above Varane to score the only goal of the game but was also immense against the French attack.
Garay has been important to the Argentine cause and has played an important role in their run to the final. The 27 year-old has just moved to Zenit and his new employers will be encouraged by his displays. Despite their attacking firepower, it has been Argentina’s sturdy defence, which is yet to concede a goal in the knockout stages, marshaled by Garay that has seen them progress.
The left-back has done his reputation no harm in the tournament. The all action left-back has been solid for the South American giants and has been a constant in the defence. He also got himself on the score-sheet in the 3-2 win against Nigeria. He’ll have his hands full in the final and has an important role for Argentina.
Having recovered in time for the big tournament, Khedira has once again taken up his role in the heart of the German midfield. The German was absolutely immense in the semi-final rout of Brazil as he got on the score-sheet and chalked up an assist. He’ll have a big role to play in the final especially against the next entry in our team.
The fact that Argentina are yet to concede in the knockout stages is not down to their defenders alone. Javier Mascherano has been absolutely immense in front of the defence for Argentina and has been instrumental in repelling all opposition attacks. The midfielder put in an awe-inspiring shift against the Dutch and one feels he will have to repeat the same if Argentina are to overcome Germany.
It is no surprise that Kroos has been nominated for the Golden Ball. Showing his mastery on the ball, the midfielder has controlled the tempo in most of the German matches. Possessing the ability to shoot with both feet from outside the box, he’s also a goal threat as we all saw against Brazil. Stop Kroos and you go a long way to stopping Germany.
The reigning Golden Boot winner from the 2010 edition, Muller is close to repeating the feat in Brazil. Only 1 goal away from James Rodriguez, it would take a brave man to bet against the German star. Capable of playing in both a central position and on the right, Muller will be Germany’s main attacking threat in the final.
Messi has led from the front in Argentina’s run to the final and will obviously be Argentina’s go-to man in the finals. Shackled against the Dutch, Messi will undoubtedly want to put to bed the doubts over his contribution to Argentina. There’s no better stage to do so than in the World Cup final, is there?
Angel di Maria
Yet another of the Golden Ball nominees, Di Maria has been integral to the Argentine cause. He is one of the 2 “game-changers” that they possess ( the other being Messi of course ) and was a big miss for them in the semi-finals. There are question marks over his fitness for the final which is a shame as he’s the type of player who has the ability to add to the spectacle of a World Cup final.