World Cup 2014 Final Germany vs Argentina Key Players: FIFA 14 Player Ratings And Match Preview

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Jul 13, 2014 02:05 PM EDT

The 2014 World Cup will be over before we know it, forcing us to leave behind the great goals, upsets, and comebacks that have entertained us over the past several weeks. There's a lot to dissect and enjoy as we head toward the final though, including a look at the key players.

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Teams need to play well as a collective to succeed, but it's clear that even the best units rely on specific players to give them an edge, or drag the side up when it's struggling. I'll take a look at the two key players for Germany and Argentina as we head into the final.

[Germany] Thomas Müller, 89 Overall

Key Attributes: Attacking Position (94) Vision (88) Reactions (91) Finishing (90)

Why He's Important: Müller is one of the strangest, most unorthodox, and effective players in football. Just 24 years old, he already has 10 World Cup goals in two competitions, with at least two more ahead in his career. As his attacking position and vision ratings suggest, he has a knack at popping up in the right place at the right time, ranging from his position on the right side to score a crucial goal or make the necessary play.

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At times looking inelegant and even goofy, Müller nonetheless continues to score goals and make his team better: he has five goals in this tournament, just one off leader James Rodriguez, and three assists. He's tactically aware, puts the ball in the net, and works hard--a genuine shout for the Golden Ball and Golden Boot at the 2014 World Cup, especially if he can continue to be as effective as he's been so far in the final against Argentina.

[Germany] Mats Hummels, 85 Overall

Key Attributes: Strength (86) Tackling (89) Interceptions (89) Heading Accuracy (91)

Why He's Important: There are plenty of good options for the second key player for Germany (Lahm and Kroos were my strongest other considerations), but Hummels will be absolutely essential to the side against Argentina. In a defense that has seen plenty of rotation over the course of the tournament, Hummels has been the best defender and a clutch player, scoring the only goal in the 1-0 win over France.

His fantastic positioning and tackling ability will be enormously important to Germany against Lionel Messi and his cohorts--some of the best attackers on the planet. Though Argentina haven't set the tournament alight in terms of scoring, the threat is definitely always there, and Hummels will be a key component in stifling the opposition through the middle.

[Argentina] Lionel Messi, 94 Overall

Key Attributes: Finishing (97) Dribbling (97) Ball Control (96) Attacking Position (93)

Why He's Important: His attribute ratings tell half of the story, and I could go on listing ratings 90 and above, but almost everyone knows what makes Messi brilliant at this point. Despite Cristiano Ronaldo's amazing performances, Messi is still likely the best player in the world, and arguably the best all time at just 27 years old.

He can (and has) singlehandedly beat a team, pulling off great individual plays this tournament to save Argentina. His team hasn't been at its best, and if they don't show up as a unit, it will be--unfairly or not--on his shoulders to make some magic happen again. In the face of his amazing performances for Barcelona in his career, the only criticism of Messi has been his lack of success with Argentina. He's gone a long way in shedding some of that in this competition, but winning the World Cup will be his only true way to silence the doubters. Messi is under massive pressure today, and his tactical and individual importance to Argentina cannot be understated.

[Argentina] Javier Mascherano, 86 Overall

Key Attributes: Stamina (88) Reactions (86) Interceptions (94) Tackling (91)

Why He's Important: Messi's Barcelona teammate is absolutely crucial to Argentina in the midfield, providing cover and defensive steel ahead of an uninspiring back four. His game against the Netherlands was his best of the tournament, tracking back to bail out the team and stifling Robben and company time and time again.

Germany is methodical and dangerous, and will provide a constant challenge for Mascherano in midfield. Bastian Schweinsteiger recently described the defensive midfielder as the "leader of a pack of wolves", and that's exactly what he will need to be today if his side is to succeed.

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