The Norman Transcript

National Sports

July 12, 2014

Superstar Messi looks to strike first against Germans

RIO DE JANEIRO — The most entertaining World Cup in a generation comes down to a final match that pits the planet’s best player against the tournament’s best team.

Lionel Messi will lead Argentina out against Germany at Maracana Stadium on Sunday for a game that will define careers, cement legacies and be watched by a global audience of about a billion viewers.

And it’s a matchup that means more to both sides than just a chance to lift one of the most hallowed trophies in sports.

For Messi, it’s a chance to firmly make his case for being perhaps the greatest ever to play the world’s most popular game. For Germany, it’s an opportunity to make up for a number of near-misses over the last decade and re-establish itself as the dominant force in international football.

And then there’s the matter of settling a historical score. Argentina and West Germany played each other in two straight World Cup finals in 1986 and ‘90, games that are well remembered in the sports psyche of both countries. Diego Maradona and Argentina won the first, the Germans took the second. So call this game the tiebreaker.

“At this point who is favorite, who is not, it doesn’t make a difference,” Argentina midfielder Maxi Rodriguez said. “Both teams feel a responsibility to go all the way.”

Most would name Germany as the favorite, especially after its astounding 7-1 drubbing of host Brazil in the semifinals. Argentina only reached the final after eking out a penalty shootout win over the Netherlands following a 0-0 draw through 120 minutes.

Germany also dismantled Argentina 4-0 in the 2010 quarterfinals in South Africa.

“Germany is a great team. What happened to Brazil could happen to any team,” Argentina forward Sergio Aguero said. “(But) we have players who can create danger up front. We’re in the final for a reason.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • NASCAR Brickyard 400 Auto Racing Jeff Gordon wins at Indianapolis for record fifth time

    INDIANAPOLIS — With a tinge of gray hair at his temples, his hat on backward and his two young children by his side, Jeff Gordon celebrated as if he was 23 years old again. Gordon won a NASCAR-record fifth Brickyard 400 on Sunday, eight ...

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to Tour victory

    PARIS — Vincenzo Nibali put his lungs and legs to work one last time, marching up to the winner’s podium of the Tour de France and sighing deeply before the Italian anthem echoed over the Champs-Elysees....

    July 28, 2014

  • Scott says he will coach Lakers

    LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers have waited nearly three months to hire a new coach, and they’re apparently making Byron Scott wait a few more days....

    July 28, 2014

  • BoSox snap Rays’ streak

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Ortiz hit a three-run homer, and the Boston Red Sox beat Tampa Bay 3-2 Sunday to end a five-game losing streak and stop the Rays’ longest winning streak in 10 years at nine games....

    July 28, 2014

  • The Big Hurt and Joe Torre headline Hall of Fame class

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy. Being enshrined in the Hall of Fame can have those effects, even on the greats....

    July 28, 2014

  • Telling The Boss, sorry

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Before he answered a question at the press conference following the Baseball Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony on Sunday, Joe Torre wanted to address someone he regrettably omitted from his speech....

    July 28, 2014

  • Wainwright bounces back to beat Cubs

    CHICAGO — When St. Louis Cardinals Mike Matheny visited the mound with two out and two on in the seventh inning on Sunday, he had no idea whether he was going to replace starter Adam Wainwright....

    July 28, 2014

  • A’s rout Rangers

    ARLINGTON, Texas — John Jaso drove in three runs, helping Scott Kazmir and the Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers 9-3 Sunday night....

    July 28, 2014

  • Clark rallies in Montreal

    MONTREAL — Tim Clark rallied to win the Canadian Open on Sunday, birdieing five of the last eight holes for a one-stroke victory over Jim Furyk....

    July 28, 2014

  • Isner wins another Atlanta final

    ATLANTA — Top-seeded John Isner overpowered Dudi Sela on Sunday to successfully defend his Atlanta Open title, blowing serve after serve past the 5-foot-9 Israeli player in a 6-3, 6-4 victory....

    July 28, 2014