Germany v Argentina: 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final

Game On: Lineups for World Cup final, will Argentina or Germany prevail?

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The 64th and final match of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil takes place on Sunday, as Argentina and Germany square off in the World Cup final.

Who will be crowned as the new World Champions?

Germany are going for their fourth title, Argentina their third, as two proud soccer nations meet at the world famous Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro in what promises to be a sensational match.

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Lionel Messi leads a well-drilled Argentina, while Germany’s stacked side will go for a team-first approach to overcome their South American rivals.

These sides have met in the 1986 and 1990 finals, Argentina prevailing in ’86 and Germany in ’90, and this is the first-time in history that the same nations have met in three WC finals. Both teams are unchanged  from the semifinal wins.

Will Germany and Argentina dish up a fitting finale to what’s been a marvelous tournament in Brazil?

LINEUPS

Germany: Neuer; Lahm, Hummels, Boateng, Höwedes; Schweinsteiger, Khedira; Müller, Kroos, Özil; Klose

Argentina: Romero, Garay, Zabaleta, Biglia, Perez, Higuain, Messi, Mascherano, Demichelis, Rojo, Lavezzi

Talking points

Will Lionel Messi join the greats of the game?

Messi has won just about every trophy ever invented… except for one. The World Cup. If you ask most people, they will say Argentina’s captain is already on a par with Diego Maradona and Pele as a true great of the game. However one small question mark always pops up. what about Messi’s performances for Argentina at the World Cup? Messi… he hasn’t won a World Cup? Messi has scored four times in Brazil this summer and keeps popping up at crucial times to save the Albiceleste. Can Messi be Argentina’s hero on Sunday and become a true soccer god at the Maracana?

Team first over individual talent?

Germany are full of confidence after their 7-1 drubbing of hosts Brazil in the semifinal. They are well-rested and sense that their time has arrived to win their first World Cup since 1990. Above all that, the German players work together and are a well-oiled machine under Joachim Low. With Kroos, Muller, Ozil and Neuer all coming through the ranks together, plus the experience of Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Klose, can they put in one more stunning team performance to overcome Argentina’s individual brilliance?

Expectation

This match should be a tight game, as both teams are extremely well-organized. If someone scores early then this game could open up, as Argentina and Germany possess mercurial attacking talents. However, when Germany and Argentina met in the 1990 final it was a dire match as both nations were too scared to lose in a 1-0 win for Germany. In 1986, Argentina won 3-2 in a pulsating clash. Let’s hope the latter game is replicated at the Maracana.

One blogger’s prediction

It it hard to bet against Germany, especially as their ruthless machine destroyed Brazil and has yet to click out of second-gear (the round of 16 clash against Algeria aside) for most of the tournament. However it just feels scripted that a scrappy Argentina team, led by Lionel Messi and supported by tens of thousands of Argentina fans, is going to win the tournament in the backyard of their biggest rivals Brazil. Tiredness will play a part for Argentina, but I fancy them to bag a 2-1 win and grab their third World Cup title.

Napoli fans wear Koulibaly masks to support defender after racial abuse

NAPLES, ITALY - FEBRUARY 07:  Fans of Napoli  during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Carpi FC at Stadio San Paolo on February 7, 2016 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
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Napoli fans showed their support for Kalidou Koulibaly on Sunday after the Senegalese center-back was the subject of racial abuse in a match against Lazio last week.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

The Lazio match was temporarily stopped in the second half as Lazio supporters hurled racial insults at Koulibaly.

At Napoli’s match against Carpi on Sunday, fans wore Koulibaly masks and painted signs in his honor to show their support for the 24-year-old defender.

A statement from Napoli’s supporters’ group read: “Everyone in Naples is offended by what happened to our young star. Because of this, we want to show our full support to Koulibaly.”

[ VIDEO: Van Gaal rips journalist who questions his Manchester United future ]

Lazio was fined more than $50,000 and will be forced to close certain sections of their stadium for the next two league matches because of the incident.

Afobe says he scored 15 goals a game with Harry Kane at the Arsenal academy

during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Selhurst Park on February 2, 2016 in London, England.
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Benik Afobe and Harry Kane are Premier League foes, but as kids, they were teammates.

Now Afobe is at Bournemouth and Kane at Tottenham, though both strikers played together with the Arsenal U-9 team as children.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal ]

While Kane left Arsenal at 10 and eventually settled at crosstown rivals Tottenham, Afobe stayed under contract with the club until 2015 despite never making an appearance for the Gunners.

Afobe went on six loan spells before moving to Wolverhampton last season, then joining Bournemouth in January.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

With three goals in his first five Premier League matches for the Cherries, Afobe is no stranger to scoring, as he said he would combine with Harry Kane for 15 goals a game back in the day.

I’ve got pictures of us from Arsenal.

He was so small at the time, a bit of a late developer, but he’s always loved scoring. The scores used to be 17-15 and stuff – we just knew we’d score in every game.

But it’s weird because he used to play in goal sometimes, and wasn’t bad actually. You wouldn’t think it – remember that goal he let in for Tottenham a couple of years ago (against Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League) when he had to play in goal.

I think Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs’ supporters are happy Harry Kane chose to play striker over goalkeeper…

[ MORE: Deficiencies visible on both sides as Chelsea draw Manchester United ]

Kane has proven that he is an elite goalscorer in the Premier League, and Afobe is off to a fine start himself. With both players just 22-years-old, we’ll likely be seeing many more goals to come from the duo.

Gary Neville under pressure as Valencia without a win in nine

EIBAR, SPAIN - DECEMBER 13:  Head coach Gary Neville of Valencia CF reacts during the La Liga match between SD Eibar and Valencia CF at Ipurua Municipal Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Eibar, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
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Gary Neville was appointed manager at Valencia on December 2. He is still yet to win a La Liga match.

After falling 1-0 to Real Betis on Sunday, Neville is now winless in nine league matches at Valencia as pressure grows on the new boss.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

Some have called for Neville to step down from his position, as the club has fallen from 8th to 13th and now sit just four points clear of the drop.

However, the former Manchester United legend has said he has been judged too quickly and will work hard to turn things around.

I said before I came that I would be judged in five months. I have been judged in six weeks.

There’s no doubt that at times like this everyone needs to stay together.

Everyone suffers. It’s just not going for us at the moment. I continue to work, I continue to have belief.

Conversations with the owners are between me and the owners. We have to turn it round quickly, I understand that. It is hard to explain the defeat. It will turn.

Not only has Neville struggled in La Liga play, but he has also seen Valencia bounced from the Champions League and saw his side smashed 7-0 by Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semifinal.

[ MORE: Player ratings from Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United ]

Valencia’s next league match is on Saturday against Espanyol, who sit three points below Valencia and haven’t won a match since December. If Neville fails to win again, there could be some real trouble at the Mestalla.

PSG down Marseille 2-1 for ninth-straight Le Classique win

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 21:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic #10 of Paris Saint-Germain is congratulated by teamamte Maxwell #17 after Ibrahimovic scored a goal in the second half against AFC Fiorentina during the International Champions Cup at Red Bull Arena on July 21, 2015 in Harrison, New Jersey.Paris Saint-Germain defeated ACF Fiorentina 4-2.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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France’s biggest rivalry has been quite one-sided, as Paris Saint-Germain defeated Marseille 2-1 on Sunday to take their ninth-straight Le Classique.

Marseille’s last win over PSG in Ligue 1 play was in November of 2011.

[ MORE: Juve win 14th straight ]

PSG got off to a dream start in Sunday’s Classique as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in the opening two minutes to give the Le Parisiens an early lead. It was Zlatan’s league-leading 21st goal of the season.

On loan from Newcastle, Remy Cabella equalized for Marseille in the 25th minute. Cabella scored on a brilliant individual effort, taking the ball from his own half on a solo run to the PSG box before firing a low shot into the bottom corner.

[ RELATED: Lewandowski’s agent confirms contract talks with Bayern Munich ]

However, PSG pushed on and claimed the win thanks to a 71st minute goal from Angel di Maria, who has been impressing in his first season in Paris. With eight goals and ten assists in Ligue 1 play, only Zlatan has been involved in more goals than di Maria.

Through 25 matches, PSG hold a ridiculous 24-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table.