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.

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-1 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): For nearly 75 minutes, NYCFC couldn’t muster up any chances in the attacking third, but thankfully their captain did what he does best. David Villa scored his 19th goal of the season on Sunday night to pull out a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution, but it was rookie Jonathan Lewis that notched the winner. The visitors took the lead 20 minutes prior after Sean Johnson spilled a shot in front of his own goal, allowing Teal Bunbury to pounce on the rebound. NYCFC now moves to within four points of Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC with nine matches remaining in the regular season.

Three four moments that mattered

16′ — Harrison breaks ankles, but Villa can’t finish — This might be the only time all see you’ll see David Villa miss a chance like this…

38′ — Johnson gets a finger tip to Rowe’s blast — Sean Johnson had no work to do in the first half, at least until Kelyn Rowe decided to rip a shot from distance just before halftime.

57′ — Johnson’s error grants Bunbury, Revs the lead — Look away, NYCFC fans.

77′ — Villa find the back of the net — When you need a goal, who you gonna call? That’s right. David Villa. The NYCFC captain is now up to 19 this season.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Teal Bunbury (57′), David Villa (77′), Jonathan Lewis (90+4′)

Honoring victims of attacks, Barcelona wins league opener

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Wearing shirts honoring victims of the recent attacks in Spain, Barcelona opened its Spanish league season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

[ MORE: Neymar double helps PSG cruise past Toulouse ]

Players had the word “Barcelona” instead of their names on the back of their shirts, and the Catalan hashtag “TOTSSOMBARCELONA” (We are all Barcelona) was on display around the Camp Nou stadium. The message was also shown on the stadium’s large screens, as well as on many banners carried by fans.

An emotional minute’s silence was held before the game as the music of Catalan cellist Pau Casals played in the background.

Before the minute was up, the more than 55,000 fans at the stadium broke into a round of applause and began chanting “No tinc por” (I’m not afraid), a chant which has become a symbol of people’s reactions to the attacks that killed 14 people and injured more than 120 in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

Extra security was implemented in and around Camp Nou.

There was a minute’s silence before every Spanish league match this weekend.

Without Neymar and the injured Luis Suarez, Barcelona got off to a winning start in the league after consecutive losses to rival Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

It scored two goals three minutes apart near the end of the first half – an own-goal by Betis defender Alin Tosca and a close-range shot by Sergi Roberto. Both goals came after plays started by Gerard Deulofeu, one of the players expected to try to replace Neymar after his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We lost depth with Neymar’s departure and we have to find a way to overcome that,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Lionel Messi looked lively but wasn’t able to score his 350th goal in La Liga. He came close, though, being denied by the woodwork three different times.

AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Brighton breaks club record with signing of winger Jose Izquierdo

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Brighton hasn’t gotten off to the ideal start in its debut season in the Premier League, but a key reinforcement is on the way.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Spurs at Wembley behind Alonso’s brace ]

After starting the 2017/18 campaign with back-to-back defeats, the Seagulls announced on Sunday the signing of Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge in Belgium for a record fee.

The 25-year-old spent three seasons in Belgium’s top flight and totaled 38 goals across all competitions for Brugge, prior to making the move to England.

Additionally, Izquierdo has worked his way into the Colombia squad as of late, and scored his first international goal for his country in June 2017 in a friendly against Cameroon.

MLS Follow Live — NYCFC hosts Revs, Minnesota meets Sounders

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Only two matches will feature on the MLS docket Sunday evening, but luckily two of the league’s most exciting teams will take to the pitch.

[ MORE: Toronto tops Fire as East leaders reach 50 points on season ]

First, New York City FC will attempt to continue its ascent up the Eastern Conference ladder when they host Kei Kamara and the New England Revolution.

In the night cap, the Seattle Sounders look to extend their unbeaten streak to nine matches when they welcome newcomers Minnesota United to CenturyLink Field.

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Here’s the schedule and kick-off times for Sunday’s two MLS fixtures.

New York City FC vs. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United — 10 p.m. ET