Rio de Janeiro-bound coaches Joachim Loew and Alejandro Sabella haven’t been afraid to hold their hands up and say ‘Alright, I’ve got that one wrong’ so far at the samba jamboree, and both Germany and Argentina’s benches will need to be utilised to the full in the World Cup final.
La Albiceleste chief Sabella quickly wiped the egg off his face at half-time of his country’s opener against Bosnia, when hauling off right-centre-back-of-three Hugo Campagnaro, who admitted his surprise at being included in the 23-man squad before the tournament kicked off.
Striker Gonzalo Higuain came on, with Argentina reverting to 4-3-1-2 from 3-5-2, and they’ve not really looked back, but against the 7/10 favourites for football’s golden globe Sabella’s tactics must be more malleable, or his low-scoring charges can forget about sabotaging their neighbours’ party further.
Loew has been extremely adept at bringing the best out of his squad, with substitution highlights including benching Mats Hummels at 5-0 up in the semis against Brazil, to keep him fresh for the Maracana, and throwing on runabout specialist Christoph Kramer to help see out matches with Algeria and France.
Even more impressive has been the improbably dark-haired 54-year-old’s handling of the goal-laden talent within his attacking ranks.
Many wrote off Germany’s hopes of a fourth tournament victory due to their lack of specialist centre-forwards, with new World Cup all-time top scorer Miroslav Klose perceived to be the only such player in the position.
Multi-goal hauls from Klose, Hummels, Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos and Andre Schurrle have proved such theories emphatically wide of the mark.
Schurrle has scored each of his three after starting on the sidelines, and with the Chelsea lung-buster practically certain to come on as a substitute in Rio – as in five of Germany’s six games so far and each of the last four – he rates a much better bet at 9/1 to score the last goal than at the same price to strike first.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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