So who’s your choice for which team is going to lift the World Cup in Brazil – Germany or Argentina?

This has been a remarkable World Cup in so many ways – the most obvious being the unbelievable capitulation by the host in the semi-final. The 7-1 result on Brazilian soil truly may have changed the face of international football forever. But we know all about the result now and there’s nothing we can really say that hasn’t been said already.

Perhaps the single most interesting aspect of this World Cup, though, was the performance of the top nations compared with their historic performances at World Cups? That’s because – despite the fact that so many games in the knock-out phase were so tight, and so many went to extra time and penalties or were won by solitary goals etc., – the four semi-finalists were still the most successful sides in the tournament’s rich history. It’s a bit like tossing a coin eight times and seeing it land on heads eight times in a row. In fact, the only traditional World Cup heavyweight missing from the line-up was Italy – who were on an early flight home along with England and Spain.

The most successful sides in terms of World Cup wins have been Brazil, Italy, Germany and Argentina. But if we look at consistency in getting to the finishing stages, you’d add Holland to that list (they’ve been runners-up three times). But no-one quite turns up in each World Cup’s final stages like the Germans and Brazilians; so it’s remarkable that, until the 7-1 humiliation, Germany had never actually beaten Brazil in a competitive game … ever!

But we all saw what happened – but what happens now? The forthcoming final will, remarkably, be the third time Argentina and Germany have contested the final. They did so in 1986 (when a Maradona-led Argentina won 3–2 in normal time) and again in Italia 1990 when fortunes were reversed and the Germans won 1-0. The second final was a little boring, it has to be said, with Andreas Brehme bagging the winner courtesy of an 85th minute penalty kick. So let’s hope for something a little more interesting on Sunday.

The Germans have looked powerful in most games, but were almost beaten by Algeria and looked shaky against the USA. Argentina, meanwhile, have looked impressive only in short bursts. They were lucky to get past Holland, Belgium and Switzerland.

So it’s the Germans who carry the tag of favouritism into Sunday’s final at 4/6 to lift the trophy, whilst Argentina are available at 5/4. There’s nothing much to choose and the live world cup commentary will be nothing if not exciting. So don’t miss it and as for the value – well it lies with Argentina simply by virtue of the fact that there’s nothing to choose between the teams so anything better than even money is worth taking.

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