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Put the women and children to bed (don’t do that.) Call your friends (they probably don’t care.) Warm up the big screen (not necessary.) Get your Tweeters ready (I don’t even know what that means.) Sunday, Germany plays Argentina for all the marbles (there are no marbles.) The Soccer Bowl is upon us, y’all.
Fair warning: this post has zero jokes about Alabama fans (they can’t read them anyway.)
On Sunday at 2 p.m. Nashville time (God’s time) a country known primarily for losing world wars squares off against a country known for harboring the first country’s world war losers (that happened.)
Here’s what you need to know about the last soccer game you’ll care about for twos of years:
To get to the final, Germany ‘Manschafted the ever-living samba out of host country Brazil in the worst sports beatdown since ever. There’s really no comparison. If you combine the score (Germany was scoring like those Duggar people have babies: indiscriminately and with an exceptionally-high frequency), the stakes, the setting, and the fact that the World Cup is only held every four years, there’s never been a more incredible result in the history of people doing things with balls for fun and/or money. It’s worth noting, for those of you numbnuts who still think soccer needs more scoring, that while the game was the most Tweeted about sports game of all time, it was Not Very Fun to watch. It was downright painful, in fact.
Incidentally, if you wondered why American soccer fans were so ok with a 1-0 loss to them, Germany’s historic systematic dismantling of Brazil should clue you in.
Argentina got to the final by beating the Netherlands in penalty kicks. Let me set something straight here: the Netherland’s last-minute keeper change against Costa Rica was an incredible move, but it was a one-off gimmick. Throughout the Cup, Holland’s coach had backup keeper Tim Krul study all their opponents’ penalty kick takers. Going into the PKs against Costa Rica, Krul knew what each kicker was likely to do, and even played mind games by telling them this. If the Netherlands had tried the same stunt again, Argentina would’ve been ready for it. Other than the PKs, Argentina vs Netherlands was a snorefest. Unless you like passing. Or drama. Or tension. Or Lionel Messi doing Messi-ish kinds of things. Or care about either of the teams. Or like to watch the best people in the world at something.
Sunday, expect Germany to come out firing. You’ll hear the announcers talking about their “tactical awareness.” That means they know when they should send extra players forward into the attack and when they shouldn’t, when and where a well-timed foul will stop an Argentine attack, and how to make runs off the ball to get themselves open. They do all of these things very, very well. Germany also plays the new breed of soccerâ€”they’re really the most ‘Merica-like team in the tournament, never afraid to attack, working hard every moment of the game, and tackling hard.
Expect Argentina to try to get the ball on Messi’s feet at every opportunity. When they do, watch the German defenders double or triple team himâ€”which the Netherlands did to great success. Argentina will live or die on Messi’s ability to draw defenders and either dribble around them or find his open teammates. Messi’s like Michael Jordan, in that Jordan didn’t just make his teammates better by osmosis. He made them better because he drew attention from opposing defenses, leaving everyone else on the team more space, and more opportunities to score. Messi will do the same. Also watch for Argentina’s Javier Mascheranoâ€”he’s a defensive specialist (kind of like Dennis Rodman to Messi’s Jordan) who was everywhere he needed to be against the Netherlands. If he is as effective against Germany, they’ll have a hard time scoring.
World Cup finals have a bad rap for being overly-defensive. While it’s true that historically the stakes are so high that teams are afraid to be all-out offensive, the all-time average goals per game in finals is 3.68. And if there are at least five goals scored between the third-place game and the final, this will be the highest-scoring World Cup ever. Germany’s offense has attacking threats all over the field. And Argentina has Messi. So…yeah. Expect goals.
This has been, without a doubt, the most entertaining World Cup in recent memory. It’s had huge upsets, offensive masterclasses, Tim Howard, historic losses, and more drama than a Bad Girls Club reunion special (I mean somebody bit a dude, for Jurgen’s sake.) On Sunday a magician has a chance to become a legend. If Messi wins Argentina the final, he will be unquestionably one of the greatest of all time. If Germany wins, they’ll take Spain’s place as the world’s most dominant team.
So strap in (well, I guess you could…,) pull up a chair (couches are scientifically speaking 66.33 repeating, of course, percent better,) and grab a cold one (you really shouldn’t call your wife that) and watch the single most important sporting event in the world. I’ll be watchingâ€”me and a billion of my closest friends. And if the rest of the tournament is any indication, it will be something else. Something else entirely.
Tweet at me, brah: @fastacton.