Fellas, my head says Argentina vs Germany. But my heart knows it will be Argentina vs Brazil, with Messi & Co taking it.
At this juncture, there is little to choose between the teams. Except, of course, the Messi factor. But everything else is pretty much a wash. All these nations have it all: organization, program management, tactics, depth, talent, a coherent style, history, and that special elan that has allowed each to consistently make their way into the semifinals. But here's my initial take:Argentina vs Holland
We can argue all day about, for example, how Argentina took all tournament to settle into a lineup, tactics, and even style. But they have, late as it is. Emphatically, given how they pretty routinely took out an excellent Belgium team.
Holland is the just about the finest European football team. It is everything European football strives to be. Well coached. They'll play to potential every second of the game. They're also quite good individually. In Robben and Sneider, they have talented talisman players.
But I ultimately give the edge to Argentina on 2 factors. Obviously, one is Messi. I have to go with Argentina on this alone. History is opening up an opportunity for special achievement here. Messi and Argentina surely know this and are simply too hungry to let it go. For Messi. For Argentina.
And that leads me to the 2nd factor, one all of you understand well: namely, the South American factor. This is where my heart takes over. We're in South America! Argentina is one of the few countries where a special pride and tradition won't take it from Brazil, never mind Europeans trying to win the WC in front of legions of Argentinian and South American fans.
I just don't believe Argentina and Messi will let it happen. Again, the Belgium match was a litmus test. This isn't the last WC, where Germany demolished Argentina. This time they're really the Albiceleste.Brazil vs Germany
Brazil has slowly but surely baked an approach: pace, power, energy, fighting spirit, and strong defense. Sure, the losses of Neymar and Silva hurt. Sure, they're not the jogo bonito team that they were. But the still have beaten a gauntlet of decent teams, being outplayed by nobody.
Brazil have shown versatility, playing against skill and physicality and defensive bunkers as well as offensive minded outfits. They have adapted to each opponent, essentially imposing themselves on everybody. Guys like Hulk, Marcelo, and Luiz aren't Zico, Falcao, and Carlos Alberto, but they're still skilled enough and will fight all game. They'll especially fight to give nothing at the back.
Germany is Germany. We all know this. Greater than the sum of the parts. Their midfield in my view has emerged as one of the strongest. The defense is also very good, positionally sound, with a German always in the right place at the right time to contest every ball.
For me, both teams don't have that special game breaker. I've said this about Germany from the start. Both teams ironically will rely on being greater than the sum of the parts in this context. It will be a war of attrition...a contest of wills...a physical contest in no small part...superseding tactics.
I conclude this like I did Argentina vs Holland. A fine European team...albeit one without a Mateus, Breitner, Beckenbauer, or Gerd Mueller...will be beaten by history's greatest team. For me, it's no longer X's or O's. It's tradition, history, and my eyes...my heart!
Brazil is Brazil. This game is in Brazil. Germany never seems to beat top and peak Latin teams with guile...like Brazil, Italy, and Argentina...in games where the ultimate is at stake. Am I to believe that it will happen now, just because Neymar and Silva are out? I can't see it.
All I can see is Argentina and Brazil itching to go at one another. All I can see is both camps, while not dismissing tactics and systematic play, digging deep and taking it to their opponents...before they go at one another in the ultimate South American derby of them all...with Argentina led by one Lionel Messi, whom surely wants to inform history that he's the greatest whom ever lived...with an Argentina nation that would LOVE to accomplish the ultimate in spite...winning a world cup in Brazil, so that they could forever do this...
In summary fellas, I believe South American heart will make the difference. Brazil and Argentina lose nothing in the core basics to Germany and Holland. This is one where individual composure and willpower will be the main difference. Who will bring it more?
I gave my opinion.
Stay tuned. We will see.
Cheers, Mate <--- Just giving my 2 cents worth of thought...