Argentina's dance towards football glory

Germany started the World Cup as the second-ranked team in the world and were expected to do well. Argentina, on the other hand, weren't expected to achieve great things, having become somewhat of perennial underachievers in recent years.

Nevertheless they find themselves just one win away from lifting the World Cup trophy despite a dull progression to the final.

While Germany were banging in the goals, 17 to be exact, the Argentines won most of their matches by just a solitary goal.

This means Argentina go into the tie as underdogs. But with the way this World Cup has gone, anything can happen.

No one would have predicted that Die Mannschaft would beat Brazil 7-1 on home soil. No octopus or turtle could have seen that one coming!

The Albiceleste won all their games on the road to the final, with Germany drawing just once - against Ghana in the group stages.

No doubt all eyes will be on Lionel Messi, who has so often been criticised for not performing for his national team as he does for Barcelona. This final could be where he proves everyone wrong and finally wins the biggest prize in football.

He has scored four goals and saved his side from a few blushes at the tournament, particularly against Iran where they were two minutes away from a damaging draw before Messi slammed the ball home in the 92nd minute for a 1-0 win.

Italian captain Fabio Cannavaro was the last World Player of the Year to win the World Cup back in 2006, and Messi will be hoping to add his name to that list.

Considering what the pint-sized Argentine has achieved, winning a World Cup is the only thing he has left to add to his burgeoning trophy cabinet.

However, it's not only Messi who has been performing well at the tournament.

The versatile and strong defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano has been a rock at the base of the Argentine midfield, shielding the back four and breaking up opposition attacks, resulting in the Argentinians conceding just four goals in the tournament so far.

Mascherano's willingness to put his body on the line for the betterment of his team is a quality few players display in the modern game.

Come Sunday, the Argentines will be hoping to outwit the technical Germans with their South American flair.

Easier said than done, though.

Alicia Pillay is an EWN sports writer based in Cape Town.

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