07/11/2014 07:46 EDT | Updated 09/10/2014 05:59 EDT

World Cup: Changes aplenty since last Germany-Argentina final

Much has changed in the world since Germany and Argentina last played each other in a World Cup final.

In 1990, the Berlin Wall had just been torn down, and nearby Brandenburg Gate was only just becoming accessible.

On Sunday, the area around the Gate will host hundreds of thousands of fans cheering on a long-since unified Germany.

In truth, the 1990 final wouldn't have made for the best outdoor viewing party anyway. Then-West Germany edged Argentina 1-0 in a match remembered as the dullest and one of the roughest in the history of the championship game.

With the magic of Argentina's superstar Lionel Messi, we can hope that history won't repeat itself this time around. But the reality is, it's the Germans who are more likely to provide flair on the pitch this weekend.

Led by striker Thomas Muller, Germany has scored 17 times at this summer's tournament. That's more than double the number of balls the Argentinians have put in the net.

The Argentina of this World Cup is all about team defence. Facing the potent attacks of the Swiss, Belgians and Dutch, the Argentinians did not allow a single goal during the knockout round.

The Germans, however, are a very different proposition.

A study in contrasts

Die Mannschaft has improved as the tournament has worn on. Their 7-1 demolition of Brazil came against a country that had not lost a competitive match on home soil in about 40 years. Given that the outcome was decided so early in the game, Germany didn't have to exert itself especially hard, mentally or physically. 

Conversely, Argentina had to fight through one battle of attrition after another at the tournament. La Albiceleste has not yet beaten an opponent by more than a single goal in Brazil. Their penalty kicks win over the Dutch in the semifinal will have taken a particularly exhausting toll.

If the Argentinians do have an advantage in this game, it may be in the intangibles. More than 100,000 fans have crossed the border into Brazil to support their team. Those supporters will be urging Messi to conjure the spirit of Diego Maradona, the hero of their teams in the 80's and 90's.

The Argentine media has also been talking about the ghost of the country's recently-deceased footballing great, Alfredo di Stefano, being on their side.

When you think about it, it makes sense that Argentina would reflect on its past. That's what older people tend to do. With an average age of 29, the highest at the tournament, they are the "blue hairs" of this World Cup.

For Germany it's quite the opposite.  They are one of the youngest sides in Brazil.  Stars in their early 20's like Muller, Toni Kroos and Andre Schurrle are the result of the country investing more than $1 billion into youth academies in the past decade. Both at the club and country level, Germany is the envy of the soccer world and likely will be for years to come.

Rewinding two and a half decades to the last time these rivals met in a World Cup final, it was all about the future for Germany. This time around it is too, it's just more about what's to come in a sporting rather than political context.