It’s common knowledge that the man of the match award for the World Cup final, like a superbowl MVP award, is usually award – unless in exceptional circumstances – to a player form the winning team. With Argentina already well backed for the trophy, the only players I’ll be backing are Germans, hopefully to offset any losses.
Against Brazil, as I’ve written about extensively, Germany had the game handed to them but the most impressive part of their performance as a team was the clockwork like rhythm of their midfield and the new setup in the middle of the park was also a big reason behind their being so comfortable against France.
Mats Hummels was man of the match against France but Toni Kroos was man of the match against Brazil when Bastian Schewinsteiger and Sami Khedira were almost as good and those three will have to perform to the same level to give Germany the best chance of landing the trophy tonight. If closing down Gago and Messi they can win the major battle of protecting their defence and while Javier Mascherano is likely to be a wall for them to pass, they have excellent runners available to get in Ozil and especially Thomas Muller out wide so there should be attacking opportunities too for them to aim for this evening.
Manuel Neuer is a fascinating contender and a tempting price at 10’s although much counts on how tested he will be unless the game goes to penalties. His sweeping is admirable but against players with Argentina’s pace and quality it could all go horribly wrong and he has just as much chance of making a mistake as he does pulling off a match winning save.
Thomas Muller is an interesting contender, although at just 5/1 he has a lot of competition for this event and we’ve already backed him to be top scorer, so he’s another one of the softer hedges that we have to cushion a potential blow of Germany winning.
It’s hard to imagine the possession not being even and the midfield congested, so defenders don’t make much appeal even with Mats Hummels excelling two games ago.
Advice – Man of the match
1 pt Toni Kroos (10/1 gneneral)
1 pt Bastian Schewinsteiger (14/1 general)
1 pt Sami Khedira (33/1 Skybet)
The betting card market is of interest in a big game. As many astute judges have already noticed, the willingness of Howard Webb to let the game flow 4 years ago led to an extraordinary amount of indecent challenges that would have been red cards alone with any objectivity, and this tournament has already had one match blighted by such an attitude when Brazil charged into James Rodriguez and similar challenges in return led to Neymar’s injury.
Italian referee Nicolas Rizzoli has given nine cards in his three games so far – an average booking makeup of 30 a game – while Argentina have received six and Germany three. Marcos Rojo has two of those, and being up against Thomas Muller with Phillip Lahm on his side, he also looks to be at risk.
Benedikt Howdes faces the same kind of challenge against Zabaela with Messi also on his side, so the 3/1 on him being carded makes more appeal than most although Bastian Schweinsteiger makes appeal after persuasive case in the Racing Post.
As for the first goalscorer market, the obvious names top the list but this is going to be a very tight game and no goalscorer could be worth chancing especially if these two sides cancel eachother out. Midfield space is likely to be a premium based on the knockout displays we’ve seen and Argentina, while improving defensively, have not found the fluency that many had hoped to see fro them during the tournament, although they may be able to handle Germany to an extent and it looks to be a trading option at the very least – although something the bookmakers have cottoned onto at 13/2.
Benedikt Howes to be shown a card (3/1 general)
Marcos Rojo to be shown a card (2/1 general)