Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Football: Will we finally see a classic World Cup final?

Lionel Messi of Argentina (r) and Thomas Mueller of Germany. Photo / Getty Images.
Lionel Messi of Argentina (r) and Thomas Mueller of Germany. Photo / Getty Images.

The 2014 World Cup has delivered beyond all expectations but now only one question remains.

Will we finally, after almost 30 years, see a classic final?

There hasn't been a truly memorable final game of a World Cup since probably 1986 at the Azteca Stadium, when Argentina trumped West Germany 3-2.

On that day the South Americans led 2-0 with less than 20 minutes to play, before Franz Beckenbauer side's drew level with a typical fightback. With the match heading towards extra time, Diego Maradona, who had been shut down for most of the game, produced a perfect slide rule pass to release Jorge Burrucharga. His precise finish gave Argentina their second World Cup title.

Since then most of the finals have been disappointments, or underwhelming at the least.
The final of Italia 1990 was possibly the worst. Argentina, racked by suspension and injuries, barely tried to play and West Germany weren't much more enterprising, with a late penalty proving the difference.

The 1994 decider was meant to be a cracker - Brazil taking on Italy, Romario against Roberto Baggio - but it was a huge anticlimax, with neither team managing to fashion a goal before Brazil won on penalties.

Four years later France enjoyed a deserved 3-0 win over Brazil but most of the drama came before the game, with the confusion over Ronaldo's fitness and physical state. The match itself didn't reach any great heights.

The 2002 decider was one sided, with an average German side benefiting from a string of upsets on their side of the draw to reach the final and they were duly outclassed by Brazil.

The final of the 2006 edition had drama - especially with Zinedine Zidane's sending off - but was otherwise a stale, dour affair, as often happens when Italy are involved. And last time in South Africa could have been a great match, but the Dutch coaches decided to disregard the talent they had at their disposal and sent their players out to foul, kick and spoil which completely ruined the spectacle.

This tournament deserves a riveting final game. It has had everything else; a stack of memorable matches, tons of drama and plenty of goals. There has been more games go to extra time than in any other tournament and some unforgettable upsets, with an underlying emphasis on attacking football. The fans have come to the party and the Brazilian people have been wonderful hosts.

Of course nothing is guaranteed . Finals are cagey affairs because there is so much at stake - the biggest prize in team sport on the planet. Tomorrow Germany wants to end a 24 year drought while Argentina is desperate to repeat the success of 1986 - which would be even sweeter on Brazilian soil.

But the omens are good. Both teams have plenty of goalscoring options, with Germany in particular possessing an incredible range of attacking weapons. Meanwhile Argentina have their little magicians up front - headed by Lionel Messi. Goals, as always, will be hard to come by - but goals will surely come.

Prediction: Germany 1 Argentina 1 (Argentina to prevail in extra time as Messi does a Maradona).

- Herald on Sunday

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