In 1986, Argentina beat Germany in the final in Mexico. Four years later, Germany were crowned world champions after beating the South Americans in Italy. Now they prepare for a third final against each other in a game that pitches the best European side of the tournament against the best from South America, as Argentina look to win at the home of their greatest rivals Brazil.
It is also a match that provides Lionel Messi a chance to seal his position in the pantheon of football greats. He has won everything there is to win at club level, scooped up four Ballon d’Or awards and now stands one match away from emulating the great Diego Maradona by guiding Argentina to World Cup glory.
Messi has been the main man for the Albiceleste during the tournament, scoring four goals so far and assisting Angel Di Maria’s extra time winner in the last 16 victory over Switzerland. The Barcelona man is likely to again find himself without the support of Di Maria for the final after the midfielder missed the semi-final against the Netherlands with a thigh problem.
Di Maria has been doing some training as he desperately tries to return to action, but Sunday’s final is expected to come too soon. Sergio Aguero, though, is in contention for a starting spot after coming on as a substitute against Holland on his return from a similar muscle injury.
Standing in the way of Argentina’s quest for a third World Cup triumph are Germany, who arrive in Rio de Janeiro fresh from a 7-1 massacre of hosts Brazil in the semifinal and brimming with confidence.
For Germany, this final represents the finish line following the restructure of the country’s football set-up in the wake of a dire performance at Euro 2000. For all the plaudits they have received in recent years, the team has not yet won an international trophy.
Joachim Loew’s side will start as slight favourites following the brutal demolition of Brazil and given they have come out on top in their last two World Cup encounters against Argentina, winning on penalties in 2006 and thrashing the side coached by Maradona 4-0 in 2010.
Without a star player in the mould of Messi or Neymar, the Europeans have relied on Thomas Muller to lead their attack. The Bayern Munich man has scored five goals in this World Cup and is one short of drawing level with James Rodriguez to win the Golden Boot, just as he did in South Africa four years ago. He has also never lost a match when playing against Messi. Loew is expected to name the same team that started against Brazil as Germany attempt to become the first European country to win a World Cup on South American soil.
Germany are set to play in their eighth World Cup final; more than any other nation. They have won three titles.
They have won just one of their last four appearances in the World Cup final (1990 v Argentina).
Germany have now reached a World Cup final in each of the last seven decades (1954, 1966, 1974, 1982 and 86, 1990, 2002 and now 2014).
Argentina are set to play in their fifth World Cup final, they have won two and lost two of the previous four.
This will be the third World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. They met in successive finals in 1986 and 1990, with each team lifting the title (3-2 Argentina in 1986, 1-0 Germany in 1990).
No other fixture has been played as often in a World Cup final as Germany v Argentina.
This is the 10th time that teams from Europe and South America face each other in the final. Seven of these finals have been won by the teams from South America.
Germany have won three and lost just one of the previous six World Cup encounters with Argentina (Drawn-2). Germany also won the penalty shootout in 2006 against Argentina.
Germany had eliminated Argentina from the 2006 World Cup (1-1 AET and 4-2 on penalties in the quarter-final) and from the 2010 World Cup (4-0 in the quarter-final).
The 4-0 defeat in 2010 is Argentina’s heaviest World Cup defeat in the last 40 years (0-4 v Netherlands in 1974).
Argentina have won nine out of 20 games against Germany (Drawn-5 Lost-6), though. The last meeting (August 2012, Frankfurt) saw Argentina win 3-1.
Argentina are yet to concede a goal in the knock-out stages at this tournament (despite playing extra-time in two of their three games).
On the last five occasions that Germany have failed to score in a World Cup match, they have lost.
The last time Germany scored in a World Cup match and lost was the 1994 quarter final defeat to Bulgaria (1-2).
Germany are unbeaten in 17 internationals (Won-12, Drawn-5).
Argentina have won four out of five penalty shootouts at the World Cup, Germany won four out of four (including the one against Argentina in 2006).
Miroslav Klose has scored more World Cup goals than any other player in history and as many as the entire current Argentinian squad (16).
Only Lothar Matthaus (25) has played more World Cup games than Klose (23, as many as Paolo Maldini).
Klose is the only player in both squads who has already played in a World Cup final (2002, 0-2 v Brazil).
Thomas Muller has played a hand in 16 World Cup goals in 12 appearances at the finals (10 goals and six assists).
Muller (2010 and 2014) and Klose (2002 and 2006) are the only players in history to score 5+ goals at consecutive World Cup tournaments.
Muller is the first-ever Golden Boot winner to reproduce his number of goals at the following World Cup (five goals in 2010, five in 2014).
Muller could also become the first player ever to win the Golden Boot at successive World Cups.
Lionel Messi has been the most creative player at World Cup 2014, setting up a tournament-high 21 goal-scoring chances for team-mates.
Messi has embarked on a tournament-high 65 dribbles so far, completing (another-high) 39 of them.
No German player has created more chances for their teammates in the 2014 World Cup than Mesut Ozil (15).
Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano has attempted a competition-high 509 passes so far.
Mascherano has also made the most tackles so far – 28.