Saturday, January 31, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

World Cup final: Magical Messi or united Germany?

By
From page B1 | July 12, 2014 |

RIO DE JANEIRO — The most entertaining World Cup in a generation comes down to a final match that pits the planet’s best player against the tournament’s best team.

Lionel Messi will lead Argentina out against Germany at Maracana Stadium on Sunday for a game that will define careers, cement legacies and be watched by a global audience of about a billion viewers.

And it’s a matchup that means more to both sides than just a chance to lift one of the most hallowed trophies in sports.

For Messi, it’s a chance to firmly make his case for being perhaps the greatest ever to play the world’s most popular game. For Germany, it’s an opportunity to make up for a number of near-misses over the last decade and re-establish itself as the dominant force in international football.

And then there’s the matter of settling a historical score. Argentina and West Germany played each other in two straight World Cup finals in 1986 and ’90, games that are well remembered in the sports psyche of both countries. Diego Maradona and Argentina won the first, the Germans took the second. So call this game the tiebreaker.

“At this point who is favorite, who is not, it doesn’t make a difference,” Argentina midfielder Maxi Rodriguez said. “Both teams feel a responsibility to go all the way.”

Most would name Germany as the favorite, especially after its astounding 7-1 drubbing of host Brazil in the semifinals. Argentina only reached the final after eking out a penalty shootout win over the Netherlands following a 0-0 draw through 120 minutes.

Germany also dismantled Argentina 4-0 in the 2010 quarterfinals in South Africa.

“Germany is a great team. What happened to Brazil could happen to any team,” Argentina forward Sergio Aguero said. “(But) we have players who can create danger up front. We’re in the final for a reason.”

One thing speaks against Germany, too. No European team has ever won a World Cup played in the Americas. Whether that’s because of the climate, the fan support or something else, Germany thinks it can buck the trend.

“We are looking forward to playing a South American team in South America but we hope the Brazilian fans will be supporting us,” Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick said. “We know the Argentina team very well, we’ve played often against them. We know what to expect.”

The question is, what can Argentina expect from Messi?

For Argentina to have a chance, the Barcelona forward will have to perform considerably better than he did against the Netherlands, when he was hardly visible for most of the game.

The four-time world player of the year scored four goals in the three group games but is on a three-game scoring drought in the knockout stages — including two extra time periods. While fellow forwards Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero are both capable of deciding big games themselves, and the team’s defense has looked surprisingly solid, it’s hard to see Argentina winning without a big contribution from Messi.

For Germany, the equation is equally simple: If it can contain Argentina’s biggest threat, its superior strength in the rest of the field should make the difference. From goalkeeper to center forward, Germany is a team without a weakness. With the exception of an erratic performance against Algeria in the second round, Germany has played like a perfect team machine, getting goals from defenders, midfielders and forwards alike.

“We’ll have to keep with Messi constantly and try to disturb him,” Germany forward Thomas Mueller said. “It will be important to act as a unit.”

Germany has not won a major tournament since the 1996 European Championship, losing in the final of the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2008. It was knocked out in the semifinals at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and Euro 2012.

Forward Miroslav Klose, who scored his record 16th World Cup goal against Brazil in the semifinals, is the only player who remains from that 2002 team.

“I don’t want to lose another final,” Klose said. “I want to lift the cup.”

Regardless of what happens, Klose’s legacy is already secure as the tournament’s all-time top scorer. To say Messi’s will be defined by one game is an exaggeration, but the World Cup trophy is the only thing that currently separates him from the likes of Pele and Maradona in the echelon of all-time greats.

If he lifts it on Sunday, he’ll join them for good. Maybe even as the best of them all.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Solano County confirms 1st local case of measles

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
SPCA begins caring for more than 100 rescued dogs

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Top workers, top students – and succulent crab

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Partial Fairfield freeway road closure starts Monday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
DUI patrols set for Super Bowl Sunday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

Armijo students savor catered Fuddruckers lunch

By Susan Hiland And Susan Winlow | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Jan. 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Jan. 29, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
.

US / World

Stanford University to get $50 million to produce vaccines

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Man charged in California family’s deaths will be own lawyer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Yosemite park fee hikes coming in March

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
San Francisco coroner says human remains are from 1 man

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

PG&E releases thousands of emails with state regulators

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Judge expresses doubt about constitutionality of no-fly list

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
French fracture laid bare as 8-year-old praises terrorists

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
US mulls Middle East-North Africa category for 2020 Census

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Balloon crew makes history crossing Pacific Ocean

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Murder trial begins 35 years after 6-year-old vanished in NY

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Judge: Funeral home wrongly sold Lee Harvey Oswald’s casket

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Jordan awaits proof hostage is alive after swap deadline

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
.

Opinion

 
GOP should plan for post-Obamacare world

By Ramesh Ponnuru | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 31, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Solano College news makes me sick

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

.

Living

Today in History: Jan. 31, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Jan. 31, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My recently widowed mother is already thinking about re-marrying

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
Horoscopes: Jan. 31, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

Five ways 3D-printed food will change the way we eat

By The Washington Post | From Page: B10

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
List: 10 Super Bowl ads you’ll be talking about

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Rod McKuen, mega-selling poet and performer, dies at 81

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Miranda Lambert leads ACM Awards with 8 nominations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Shakira gives birth to 2nd baby with Spanish football star

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Ex-rap mogul ‘Suge’ Knight arrested in deadly hit-and-run

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

 
Hayward, Utah Jazz upset Golden State Warriors 110-100

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

LeBron returns, Love, Irving team for 44, as Cavs top Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Mustangs ride away from Indian’s home court with 66-60 victory

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Laird leads as Tiger shoots 82 and misses the cut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Seau, Warner, Pace first-time Hall eligibles

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Djokovic beats Wawrinka to reach fifth Australian Open final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

N.H. Speedway general manager faces lewdness charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Kings’ Cousins to replace Kobe Bryant in All-Star game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Judge: Jury can watch Super Bowl unless Hernandez mentioned

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Blackhawks Hall of Famer Stan Mikita has brain disorder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Ko takes lead at LPGA opener, closes in on golf history

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Carroll says decision is Sherman’s if baby arrives early

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

NFL’s Goodell seeks to look past ‘tough year,’ to future

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
This date in sports history for Jan. 31, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

US consumer confidence at highest level in a decade

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Companies steering clear of Super Bowl name

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

WillIiam “Bill” Hunter

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Garry A. Britton

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Anneliese Edith (Luckner) Fraser

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Anthony Neal Hunley

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Frank Z. Perez

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Joe Lambert Robinson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Otilia (Tela) Quinn

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Danica Gojkovich Ryder

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
.

Home Seller 1/31/2015

Quirky add-ons a common feature of celebrity homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR2

Real estate transactions for Jan. 31, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3

5 ways to make a kitchen more germ-free

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage rises to 3.66 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3