On track for a second consecutive adidas Golden Boot, Germany’s Thomas Muller is the leading light in Joachim Low’s side. With his fifth goal of these finals against Brazil, he took his place among a fabulous five of his countrymen (Miroslav Klose, Gerd Muller, Jurgen Klinsmann and Helmut Rahn) to reach double figures at the FIFA World Cup™.
There is one undisputed star for Argentina. The four-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi hopes to take his place among the pantheon of World Cup greats with an Argentina win in the Maracana. Will it be La Albiceleste’s No10 or Die Nationalmannschaft’s No13 who take the honours? FIFA.com takes a look at the numbers behind the stars ahead of their World Cup Final showdown.
Thomas Muller: 186cm
Lionel Messi: 169cm
Muller towers above Messi, standing at a little over 6ft tall, and he is also above the average height for players at Brazil 2014 (182cm). The diminutive Argentinian maestro famously took growth hormones on his arrival at Barcelona in his early teens, but still grew to just 5ft 7ins. This makes him two inches taller than his idol and Argentina’s last legendary No10 Diego Maradona, who knows all about handling the biggest of pressures despite the shortest of frames. “Is the pressure of carrying the hopes of a nation overpowering?” Maradona asked the Times of India recently. "No-one knows it better than Messi.”
Date of birth
Thomas Muller: 13 September 1989 (24 years old)
Lionel Messi: 24 June 1987 (27 years old)
Incredibly, Muller made his Germany debut just three months before South Africa 2010 kicked off and, at the age of 20, picked up the adidas Golden Boot and Hyundai Young Player Award at that tournament. This time around, he brings a wealth of experience, having won most major trophies in the domestic game with Bayern Munich. Almost three years his senior, Messi is playing at his third World Cup, having made his international debut in 2005. It was widely discussed before Brazil 2014 that Messi, who will turn 31 at the next finals, is in the prime of his career and will never have a better opportunity to truly shine on the global stage.
Thomas Muller: 13
Lionel Messi: 10
Germany’s No13 this year will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of his namesake Gerd, who not only won the Golden Boot but also won the World Cup during his time as the main man in the German line-up. Thomas was handed the jersey after previous incumbent Michael Ballack was injured in the build-up to South Africa 2010. He relished having the shirt on his back, with that adidas Golden Boot in his first global finals. Messi also feels the weight of expectation due to previous occupants of his chosen number. Diego Maradona and the current Albiceleste No10 are the topic of much discussion as to which is the top player to have worn the coveted jersey. Maradona holds the advantage in the eyes of plenty of Argentines due to his World Cup win in 1986. Can Messi match him this year?
Record in Brazil 2014 qualifying
Thomas Muller: 4 goals in 10 games
Lionel Messi: 10 goals in 14 games
Germany scored the highest number of goals in European qualifying, with 36 shared out between ten different scorers. Muller was joined on four goals by Mario Gotze, Miroslav Klose and Andre Schurrle while Marco Reus and Mesut Ozil were the only Germans who scored more than Muller. Messi got the second-highest tally of goals in the entire Brazil 2014 qualifying campaign with only Deon McCaulay, Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez bagging more qualifying strikes than the prolific Barça man. It was no surprise that La Pulga grabbed a brace in the 5-2 win over Paraguay that saw his side book their ticket to Brazil.
Brazil 2014 goals (up to and including the semi-final)
Thomas Muller: 5
Lionel Messi: 4
There was a significantly-sized monkey on Messi’s back going into the tournament. He had not scored a World Cup goal in eight years since his sole strike at the 2006 finals, in which he became the youngest Argentinian World Cup goalscorer. The impatient Maracana crowd watched on in his side’s opening Brazil 2014 game against Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Messi delivered after the hour mark, driving past several defenders before smashing in off the post. He then scored one of the most memorable goals of the tournament, a long-range curler which broke down Iran’s stubborn defence. On top of that pair, he grabbed a brace in his side’s final Group F game against Nigeria which included a sublime free-kick.
Muller started with a bang, grabbing a hat-trick in his side’s opening 4-0 victory against Portugal. The devastating attacking performance by Germany set the tone for the rest of the tournament, and Muller was at the forefront, converting a penalty, lashing home a left-footed effort and poking home from close range. He then grabbed the decisive strike in his side’s final Group G match against USA before getting the ball rolling in Belo Horizonte, scoring his side’s first in their 7-1 demolition of Brazil.
Check out the World Cup statistics centre to compare these two, or any other players at the tournament, with detailed comparison analysis, including passes completed and distance covered, at your fingertips.