Tevez vs Mertesacker
Carlos Tevez is enjoying a splendid moment. His form for his country has never been as prolific as it has been for the clubs he has played for but after a stupendous goal from distance against Mexico he is looking sharp and focused. Mertesacker, never the quickest of defenders, proved himself a more then capable match for Wayne Rooney of England in the previous round and will no face a very similar style of player. Mertesacker will know not to follow Tevez around the pitch because it will just create a vacuum behind him for Lionel Messi and Angel di Maria to exploit. Tevez frequently receives the ball with his back to goal and Mertesacker will do well to prevent him from turning.
Messi vs Lahm
These two met in the 2008-09 Champions League quarter final stage and Lionel Messi was the clear victor. In the Camp Nou leg, which Barcelona won 4-0, Messi scored twice in a performance that left his critics astounded. It was, perhaps, the first time that Messi had demonstrated his superiority in a crunch Champions League knock out tie. Only that night it was Christian Lell playing instead of Phillip Lahm, who was injured. The inquest after the game insisted that had Lahm played Lionel Messi would not have been able to do so much damage. Now Lahm has the opportunity to prove the opinion correct whilst Messi has the chance to do the opposite. Messi has had a relatively quiet last couple of matches but is supposedly ready to explode. Lahm needs to keep him quiet if Germany are to have a chance.
Demichelis vs Klose
Both are a part of the Bayern Munich team that just won a domestic double but neither had a convincing season for their clubs. Miroslav Klose rarely featured all season and scored only a handful of goals. Martin Demichelis featured for much of the season but was the weak link in the defence, a truth exploited by Internazionale Milan in the Champions League final. Klose is deceptively quick whilst Demichelis is deceptively slow. Pit the two against each other in a race for the ball and Klose will win. Demichelis will need to step forward, implementing the offside trap in unison with his fellow defenders, or try to snatch the ball before it reaches Klose. In decent goalscoring form this tournament, Klose is again displaying why he is a man for the big occasion. Demichelis, on the other hand, with his regular mishaps, is demonstrating why he is not.
di Maria vs Badstuber
Angel di Maria has not had the tournament many envisaged he would. He has been steady, consistent and hard working. Most imagined that he would either be extraordinary or awful, similar to how he has performed for Benfica for much of the last season. Great one match and then poor the next. Capable of the incredible long range shot, cross or dribble di Maria’s move to Real Madrid is based as much on his potential as what he offers right now. Badstuber is not going to find the task of marking di Maria easy but if he can keep him on the sideline and minimise his threat it will be a job well done. Badstuber will have to forget any attacking intentions he might have dreamed about in the last few days and concentrate on the business of defending.
Mascherano vs Ozil
Javier Mascherano is, perhaps, the best defensive midfielder in the world. Ozil is, at the moment, the hottest young prospect in the game. His reputation was established in the European Under 21 tournament Germany featured in last summer but his game has developed to such an extent that some commentators are speculating that should Ozil have an influential hand in the elimination of Argentina he might be in line for an individual award. Such talk would have seemed scandalous just 3 weeks ago. Mascherano will have to keep Ozil in front of him at all times because if Ozil can find space between the Argentinian defensive and midfield lines and create havoc as he did against Australia, Ghana and England then Argentina will be in trouble. Ozil can expect support from Thomas Muller next to him but Mascherano will not be expecting any from whichever of Maxi Rodriguez or Juan Sebastian Veron start.