AND THE WINNER IS ... ... Germany or Argentina, according to a sampling of players, former players, coaches and soccer officials
By Michael Lewis
So, who's going to win the World Cup?
By 5 or 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, the entire world will know.
Until then, the rest of the planet will have to wonder or make predictions.
With that in mind, BigAppleSoccer.com decided to ask almost 50 soccer people -- players, former players, coaches, soccer officials, TV announcers, etc. -- local, national and international -- about who they think will be taking a victory lap around Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro Sunday.
In alphabetical order, here is a sampling of predictions, opinions and comments:
Chris Armas, former U.S. international midfielder
Despite the confidence and great form of Germany, I predict Argentina wins, 1-0. The reason is Lionel Messi and the home fans.
Joe Barone, Brooklyn Italians vice president and National Premier Soccer League chairman
Argentina. They will slow the game down if they get pressed high lots of ball possession and Messi will dominate the game.
David Beckham, former England international and current co-owner of MLS expansion team slated for Miami
It has been a truly fantastic tournament, with two great teams in the final. Whilst they have no superstar, Germany has a fantastic team, where they work really well together and have played some amazing football at this tournament. Argentina also has a great team, but they also have Messi, who is quite simply an unbelievable footballer and who I cannot wait to see play with my kids on this greatest of stages. This is why I am going for a 3-1 Argentina win.
Edner Breton, former Haitian international and North American Soccer League player
Germany deserves to be champions because of the way they have consistently played during the whole tournament. Their organization on defense and midfield is just masterful. They are a REAL TEAM. There is a simple, and yet spectacular precision in their passing that we have not seen since Spain of last World Cup. Their finishing up top is the same. You just don't know who to mark because the ball is constantly moving in a very unselfish way.
Argentina is Messi. You defend against him the way Holland did and they are in trouble. Messi is absolutely the very best player on the planet, in my opinion, but our beautiful game is a TEAM sport and TEAMS usually win. Ask Lebron James!
Finally, Neuer in goal for Germany is just a monster wall. He is the only goalkeeper I rate a little higher than our own Tim Howard. We all know that soccer can be a cruel game and that the best team does not always win. I hope I don't jinx them: 3-1 Germany.
Eddie Caggianelli, MSG Red Bulls producer
Iíve said for the last two years that Germany and Brazil were the two best teams in the world. I said, until the Confederations Cup, that Germany was No. 1.
I changed my opinion after last summerís tournament.
Tuesday changed my opinion drastically.
I just donít think Argentina is anywhere near Germanyís level. Talent yes, (Messi, Aguero, Higuain and maybe DiMaria), they might be better individually than Germany, but Germany plays better as a team. Think a younger, San Antonio Spurs on steroids.
3-1 Germany (two goals by the most underrated player in the world, Thomas Muller).
Glenn Crooks, Rutgers women's soccer coach
Argentina 2 Germany 1
I selected Argentina prior to the start of the World Cup and although there are several matters working against them, I will stick to my original selection. Argentinaís physio and massage therapist may have the most impact on the South Americanís hope in the final. With one less day of recovery than Germany coupled with a fatiguing overtime match in the semis, it would appear that Argentina has the odds stacked against them. However, the emergence of DeMichelis to stabilize the defense, the work rate of Mascherano and the brilliance of Messi will keep the match close until the latter stages of regulation. I expect a special goal from Messi to give Argentina the advantage. Muller will then score the equalizer with a tap in at the back post late in the first half. Then, in the latter stages of the match, substitute Sergio Aguero will finally awaken from his World Cup nap to score on a brilliant volley as La Seleccion avenges their finals defeat to Germany in 1990.
Rachel Daly, St. John's striker
Germany win 3-1. Score early and draw Argentina out. One-sided final in terms of possession. Klose continues record breaking with two. Muller is MVP.
JP Dellacamera, long-time soccer announcer who will call the final on radio
I'm picking Germany over Argentina by a 2-0 score. The Germans are disciplined, have too many weapons, plus an extra day of rest all in their favor. In addition, I believe they have the best goalkeeper in the world in Manuel Neuer. They are coming off an easy game over Brazil in the semifinals, where Argentina had to play 120 minutes before the penalty-kick decider against the Netherlands. Messi will need to carry Argentina if they are to win, but the pick here is Germany.
John DiRico, Dowling College men's soccer coach
I think Germany will win if Hummels is fit to play and Hoewedes continues his form at left back. I think Germany has too many attacking options and a stronger midfield than Argentina.
Germany 2-1 AET.
Alecko Eskandarian, Cosmos assistant coach
I'm going to say Germany will win 3-1. The reason why is obvious. They're just a machine right now. But I think their most important thing has been depth. They've been the one team that I have seen that have been bringing in world-class players off the bench, whereas the Brazil, Argentina, even Holland, Belgium, they're still very good players coming off the bench, but they're not superstars like Germany with SchŁrrle coming in. Schweinsteiger was coming off the bench in the first couple of games, Klose coming off the bench at times.
Hunter Freeman, Cosmos right back
I like Germany. Theyíve been pretty successful and quite god for a while now. Obviously their game against Brazil was bit of a fluke. You've not going to see something like that all the time. I still like them. But it'll be a tough game because they're playing Argentina. It's just next door to Brazil. The crowd will be probably a little bit more pro Argentina. I don't know. They're going to have a lot of fans, Argentina. But at the same time any Brazilian fan is probably going to root against them. It will be interesting. I think it will be a good game. I thought yesterday the Holland. But that's soccer. It was pretty even. So it will be interesting to see how Germany reacts after the game they had because they have to feel quite good, but hopefully they don't feel too good about it. Germany 2-1.
Dan Gaspar, Iran goalkeeping coach
I think Germany can and will contain Messi and they will be able to pierce the Argentina midfield and defense through the middle unlike the Dutch, who only seemed to play from the wings in the semifinal.
The German outside wingers will track defensively for the entire match. My concern about Argentina is when they fly forward their tendency is not to have the same willingness to recover as the Germans. As a result Argentina maybe find itself numbers down defensively which can be deadly against Germans. As they have proven the Germans will penalize you big time if you are not organized.
If Di Maria plays for Argentina, that will be huge for them, he has had a great tournament. I think the two best teams are meeting for the trophy.
My hope for this match is that both teams do not play with the fear of losing but play with the courage to take risks to win.
But my sentimental choice is Argentina for two reasons. First, Iran lost to Argentina and losing to the world champion 1 to 0 is admirable. Secondly, if Argentina wins, Messi will go down as the greatest of all times!
Sebastian Guenzatti, Cosmos midfielder
I think Germany of what they showed in the semis. They ran through Brazil. They're a strong team. Every year they finish top four and they just have the best schools in the world in soccer.
Peter Hirdt, Elias Sports Bureau
Germany 2, Argentina 0.
Germany rediscovered its mojo after Lahm resumed his rightful position and Schweinsteiger was left in control of the midfield. Too much fire power, including off the bench.
Patrick Horne, Brooklyn College women's soccer coach
Argentina wins the World Cup, 2-1! The Argentines improved much during the tournament and is gaining in confidence. Argentina has the one player who can do something extra-special to win the game. This is important because soccer is a game of moments, individual moments.
The 7-1 defeat of Brazil is really not an indication of an unbeatable Germany. It played a team that was not prepared defensively and the situation was compounded by the fact that Brazil it did not have a leader on the pitch. Germany is organized and disciplined but suspect against speed with its slow defense. (Remember Ghana-Germany, a contest the Africans should have won with a touch of discipline).
Argentina all the way!
Zak Ivkovic, City University of New York Athletic Conference executive director
I would love to see Germany win it all and think they will do so by 2-0 score - a few reasons include;
Germany has played much better soccer throughout the tournament and has a few players who could be deemed players of the tournament, including the top goalkeeper in the world in Neuer. Argentina has found ways to win thus far, even when they have been less than impressive the entire month. In missing Di Maria and Messi looking human for a change, the South Americans will fall short.
I think Germany will labor for a while to get thru the Argentinian defensive tactics that worked so well against Holland, but Germany has far more offensive weapons and ways to score which will prove pivotal.
They would also be the first European team to win a World Cup in the Western Hemisphere.
Erhardt Kapp, former Cosmos, U.S. Olympian, U.S. international
Germany is well rested since they did not have to exert much energy against Brazil. Also having the extra day will help. Germany has too many options going forward for Argentina to match up against. Germany will be have most of the possession and as long as they contain Messi and company on the counter they will win.
Brian Kilmeade, Fox and Friends co-host, long-time soccer enthusiast and youth coach
Germany 2-0. First half scoreless and second half their efficient consistent play wears down the uneven Argentinian squad who are exhausted after the semifinal marathon win.
Frank Lackner, Cosmopolitan Soccer League trustee and former player/official with B.W. Gottschee
While I didn't pick Germany at the outset of this World Cup (actually had Argentina beating them in the final), they've made believers out of me in the way they dismantled Brazil (not to mention Portugal). Believe the success that the Netherlands had in keeping the touches away from Lionel Messi also bodes well for Germany, assuming they were paying attention. In the end, see Germany winning on South American soil by a 2-1 score, with Messi maybe getting the one goal.
Mat Litchhult, Mattituck High boys coach
It's been a tremendous World Cup. I believe that Germany will win on Sunday. I think they have been the most complete team offensively and defensively throughout the entire tournament. I believe the score will be 3-1 to Germany..
Carlos Llamsoa, former U.S. international defender and Cosmos assistant coach
Before the World Cup started I had Germany in my bracket winning it all. Why? Because it is the more compact team and every single position they look solid. It's not like the other top teams like Argentina, they relied on Messi. If a Messi had a good game, then Argentina would play good. Holland, it was a different. I had seen Argentina for the first time play as a team in this World Cup. Germany will win, 2-0.
Mark Lugris, former Puerto Rico international captain and member of Puerto Rico Soccer Hall of Fame
It is very simple to breakdown the Final it is the best player in the world vs. the best team in the world.
I feel that Germany just is stronger in all areas in goal, back four, midfield . Like all finals it will be a tense affair but I feel that Argentina will play very defensively and rely on Messi' magic but it won't be enough. Puyol will hand the cup to Lahm.
Bill Manning, Real Salt Lake president (Massapequa, N.Y. native and former Brooklyn Italian)
Here was my WC picks from a pool I played in. Correctly picked Argentina vs Germany in final. Iíll go with Argentina 2-1, will be Messiís day.
Dr. David Masur, St. John's men's coach
Germany I picked them earlier. They are the most cohesive both offensively and defensively. It will be low scoring. Argentina organized and committed and defends well. 2-1 Germany unless Messi really has a day!!
Jimmy Maurer, Cosmos goalkeeper
Germany, 2-0. They've been so good throughout the tournament, consistent. They've been such a machine, like everyone always calls them. Argentina is going to be tough for them, but I think they'll grind them down.
Tony Meola, former U.S. international goalkeeper
I like Germany a lot but the story if Messi and Argentina winning the World Cup in Brazil is too hard to pass up. Argentina, 2-1.
Jim McElderry, Fordham men's coach
Though I will be cheering for Messi to become a World Cup Champion, I see Germany as simply too good at the moment. I think their depth in all positions has proved to be incredibly valuable in this tournament. They play as a team with great energy, pace and confidence. I predict a 3-1 win for the Germans.
Tiffeny Milbrett, former U.S. international striker
Germany will be the champion. The score will be 3-1. They just seem unstoppable. Very solid and strong in every player -- just overall so many great players on the field together. They are hard to beat because they really are playing as a unit for each other. Also, their midfield players are the best in the world and they have so many of them. Argentina will struggle to get play moving through their midfield. And that's where the game will be decided.
Jimmy Ockford, Cosmos defender
I would like to see Argentina win it because I'm a fan of Messi but Germany's looked really good, so I'm going to have to go with Germany defeating Argentina, 2-1. I think Germany is the best team in the tournament right now. They've been on another level, especially the last game.
Len Oliver, former American Soccer League standout, member of U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame
I've been lucky, selecting most of the winners today, except for the Brazil-Germany game. Who would have predicted that result?
I say Germany by two goals in the final over Argentina. Too well organized, both in the back and up front, intense, good runs to space, and wonderful finishing. No real liabilities in their squad.
Richard Nuttall, Hofstra men's coach
I think Argentina due to the extreme emotion of the event being a great equalizer and the world class skills of Messi; I think he is going to be the difference. I thought Argentine were excellent defensively in the semifinal but do feel who scores first will win Ė 3-2 Argentina.
Arnie Ramirez, former Long Island University men's coach
I believe that Germany will win, 3-0. Germany has six players who play in Bayern and the team is playing with a perfect combination of short passes and long passes. They have an excellent goalie, Phillipp Lahm in the back is amazing, Sami Khedira is well rested because he was out most of the season with an injury, Kroos is an attacking player that I like. Muller and Klose are very dangerous and can score. The German players are well rested and I feel that in a short tournament like the World Cup this will be a big plus. Argentina with all their stars, look tired and don't seem to play with that energy and fighting power that The Germans are exhibiting. Unless Messi decides to play like the Messi that we knew when Guardiola was coaching I see Germany winning, 3-0.
Sal Rapaglia, Eastern New York State Amateur Soccer Association president
Germany is a sure winner unless Messi has the game of his career. Germany has no weak spots. They are playing as a team.
Paul Riley, Portland Thorns FC coach
Germany win 3-1. Score early and draw Argentina out. One sided final in terms of possession. Klose continues record breaking with two. Muller is MVP.
Seth Roland, Fairleigh Dickinson men's coach
Well, this one's going to be more from my heart than from my head, but here goes:
Argentina 2-1 in overtime. Argentina will not overextend themselves the way that Brazil did; they'll keep it much tighter defensively and they are difficult to break down. Hopefully DiMaria will be fit to play, and he will play in the dynamic manner in which he's been playing throughout this World Cup before his injury. Mascherano has been a monster in the middle of midfield breaking up plays and initiating attacks from deep in the midfield. The back four for Argentina looked very solid against Holland. Will be difficult to keep Messi so quiet for a second game in a row, although the Germans certainly have the potential to do so.
Argentina will give Germany problems on the counter with Messi running at them on the break, hopefully DiMaria running at them as well, and Higuain hopeful getting on the end of a great Messi pass or cross from DiMaria. Argentina catches them once on the counter for a goal and once on a Messi free kick to win their third World Cup.
Giovanni Savarese, Cosmos head coach
I picked Argentina before the World Cup to be the champion. I thought the final could be Brazil and Argentina, even though I felt Germany is the strongest team. If you look at the players that they have and the way they've played. Germany is a very, very strong team. But the fact that they're playing in South America makes me feel that potentially they would be able to make it all the way. That's why I picked Argentina. I felt throughout the tournament that Argentina has been growing. I think they have something prove. For Argentina to win in Brazil is nothing more of pride for them, winning a World Cup in one of their rival countries. ... It might be a 1-0 match in overtime.
Marcos Senna, Cosmos midfielder and former Spanish international who was born in Brazil
By the way they beat [Brazil], Germany, their structure is way better. It's [been that way] for many years. They have been playing, like in the last World Cup. Germany is the one to take the cup. 2-0 Germany.
Mike Smolens, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy men's soccer coach
Germany 2-0. Balance and a number of options, triumphs over "star power." Let's hope I'm right, as before the tournament I had a Brazil/Holland final.
Seth Stammler, former Red Bulls defender-midfielder
Germany wins 3-1, playing with tons of momentum and confidence from the semis and are tough to break down defensively.
Mads Stokkelien, Cosmos striker
I thin obviously Germany looks extremely strong. But on the other side, Argentina. They play cynical, but they get results playing that way. Itís not fun to watch Argentina. They have a lot of talent on the team. Obviously they play smart. They came to the World Cup final, but I think if Messi doesn't do something magical, I think that Germany will win. Germany 2-1.
Earnie Stewart, former U.S. international who is AZ Alkmaarís director of football
For me Germany is the favorite. They have not only shown that they are a team but also that they have a lot of individual class therefor I think they will win. Final score: 3-1 Germany.
Ian Stone, St. John's women's coach
All the way through the World Cup, I have said that a South American team would win it. Therefore, I'll say Argentina. Why? 1 word- Messi!
Peter Strumpf, Cosmopolitan Soccer League president
My guess is 1:0 for Germany, unfortunately, teams rely on defense too much. Itís just too important. A score with more goals would be better but unlikely
Danny Szetela, Cosmos midfielder
I like Germany. For one reason I thought that Germany has been very consistent throughout the whole World Cup. Argentina also is a good team, but as a group they haven't been playing the best soccer. Obviously, they have been doing well defensively. Offensively, they have a lot of talent. But for Argentina this is the time for them to step up and showcase their offensive ability. At the end of the day, I think Germany is going to wind up winning the game, 2-1.
Kim Wyant, former U.S. women's international goalkeeper
I believe it will be Argentina, because of Messi, and because they defend very well. 1-0 Argentina.
Jim Vogt, founding partner and former Met Oval president
Germany 3-1. Very organized. Strong midfield. Playing like a Mercedes. This team is about country first. Front of the shirt matters the most. Are we playing Messi or Argentina?
Gus Xikis, Eastern New York State Amateur Soccer Association general secretary
I picked Germany from day one and still sticking to it; 3-1 Germany.
Octavio Zambrano, former MetroStars, LA Galaxy head coach, Sporting Kansas City assistant coach
Germany will win this game, if Messi shows the same form he did against Holland. He is a genius that has been kept in a bottle, partly because of some smart defending but also because he is not in top form for some reason (tiredness like the Spanish team).
Sabella will keep it close. It's going to be a tight game but the Germans are incredibly focused and will win the game ... but if the genie comes out of the bottle, all bets are off.
I feel that Brazil will win the World Cup....oops....sorry...
As much as I hate sharing this intel, I feel Germany will win the World Cup with a score of 2-0.
Assuming Di Maria is out and Mascherano is able to play, I feel that their attack is limited when Messi is man marked. Messi will be man marked out of the game, like the Netherlands match. He barely made an impact. Germany has proven they are not afraid to attack, score goals, super fit, organized, and clinical and they are very solid defensively. Psychologically, Germany are confident, peaking at the right time and the team and country is financially and emotionally invested in this final more than Argentina.
Having said that, with a longer rest ... Messi may come alive and Di Maria is full strength....could be different.