Good evening, fans of sport, spectacle and populist nationalism, and welcome to the 2014 World Cup Final. This evening, Germany play Argentina in Rio de Janeiro for the right to declare themselves The Best International Football Team In The World Over The Last Four Weeks, and, as we have been throughout the remainder of the tournament, we’re here with live coverage of a match that is likely to be remembered as The Most Tweeted Football Match Of All-Time.

So, Germany against Argentina, then. In handing out the shellacking to eclipse all shellackings upon the host nation in the semi-finals, Germany have seen their popularity rise to unprecedented levels, and the slickness of their football in Belo Horizonte last week was such that Brazil has already confirmed that it “won’t be bothering with this bullshit any more,” and expectations are high that Germany, who haven’t always been as brilliant as they were last week over the last decade or so, will now go on to finally end their eighteen year wait to lift a major trophy once again.

If this is to happen, however, there are significant obstacles yet to overcome, not the least of which is Destiny. Over the last few weeks or so, any number of journalists who should know better have been reminding us with considerable frequency that it’s Lionel Messi’s destiny to win this competition, and this is an opinion that has come to gain some traction over the last few couple of weeks as a distinctly average looking Argentina team has overcome a  a conveniently comfortable draw to set up half of The Final That Everybody Wanted To See. It’s just a pity, we might reflect, that Germany failed so comprehensively to read this script before their semi-final match.

Historically speaking, these two nations have met each other twice before, in successive World Cup finals in 1986 and 1990. The first of these matches is probably most notable as being the last time that a World Cup final actually produced a match that was worthy of the name, while the second of these was just about the worst World Cup final of them all. Argentina won in 1986 and Germany (well, West Germany, if we’re being completely precise on the subject) won it in 1990, and other than that Argentina have their 1978 win to their name, whilst West Germany also won the trophy in 1954 and 1974. The teams line up as follows:

Germany: Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Hummels, Howedes, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Muller, Kroos, Ozil, Klose. Substitutes: Zieler, Grosskreutz, Ginter, Schurrle, Podolski, Draxler, Durm, Mertesacker, Gotze, Kramer, Weidenfeller.

Argentina: Romero, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Rojo, Biglia, Mascherano, Perez, Higuain, Messi, Lavezzi. Substitutes: Orion, Campagnaro, Gago, Di Maria, Rodriguez, Augusto Fernandez, Federico Fernandez, Palacio, Alvarez, Aguero, Basanta, Andujar.

We’ll be back here very, very shortly, to see whether Destiny can lift the trophy for the first time. It promises to be… well, we’ll see, shall we?

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