Argentina’s World Cup hopes could hinge on penalty kicks

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Argentina’s semi-final victory on penalties over Holland may have been far from pretty, but the reality is that those backing South American success had best brace themselves for a repeat show in Sunday’s showpiece final. 

Germany and Argentina’s previous two World Cup final meetings have contrasted greatly, with La Albiceleste’s thrilling 3-2 win over Die Mannschaft in 1986 regarded as one of the best finals ever, while their repeat meeting four years later is undoubtedly one of the worst.

And the bad news for anyone lumping on the 11/10 offered on Argentina lifting the trophy is that if Alejandro Sabella’s team are successful, the final could well fall into the latter category.

That is the only conclusion that can be garnered after two narrow 1-0 victories over average opposition in the form of Switzerland and Belgium – two sides that failed to make much of an impression on these finals – and victory on penalty kicks against Holland after drawing 0-0.

Ladbrokes has odds of 6/1 on a repeat scoreline at 90 minutes and it could be a bet worth considering after seeing the way Argentina stifled the attacking talents of a Holland team that had previously put five past World Cup holders Spain.

A team led by Diego Maradona were on a similar path to glory back in 1990, with the Argentina icon dragging the team all the way to the final with a mix of sensational skill and at times brutality where they were ultimately robbed of the extra time they so desired by a dubious penalty award.

Messi may draw some comparisons with the great one but the Albiceleste team of today is not quite the same in terms of physicality, putting in an entirely clean defensive masterclass against the Dutch that had them comfortable for long periods.

And having seen the way Brazil were dismantled by Germany in jaw-dropping fashion, Argentina will be weary of suffering a similar fate and could adopt an even more conservative strategy that, barring any breakthrough, would force the game to go extra time and then to penalty kicks.

Lionel Messi and the gang will also be wary of Die Mannschaft with memories of their 4-0 mauling at hands of the Germans four years ago still fresh in the mind.

The hero in goal against Holland, you can get 19/10 on Sergio Romero keeping a clean sheet, while it’s 11/4 on the game being a draw at half-time and full-time.

Meanwhile, the odds on Argentina winning for a second time at this World Cup on spot-kicks – as they did in 1990 when they last reached the final – is 10/1.

After last night’s Holland no show, these markets could help you enjoy a game that, if things go Argentina’s way, could be a drab affair.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.