Sun | Dec 5, 2021

Argentina eye perfect game

Published:Sunday | July 13, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Germany's head coach Joachim Loew
Argentina's head coach Alejandro Sabella
1
2

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP):

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella is looking for perfection against Germany in today's World Cup final.  Describing the Germans as "very powerful" physically, mentally and tactically, Sabella said yesterday that there's no room for error.

"We must play a perfect game," Sabella said.

Elaborating on how to accomplish that, the 59-year-old coach turned poetic for a moment.

"We will give everything we've got," Sabella said. "Through humility, sacrifice, hard work, simplicity. By giving instead of taking, by forgiving instead of complaining."

The Argentines lost one of their key players in the quarter-finals when Angel Di Maria limped off after straining his right thigh. Sabella said the Real Madrid winger's condition was improving, but it was unclear whether he would be ready for the final.

"Today is a key day to assess his evolution," Sabella said. "After practise I will have a better overview."

Argentina last played in a World Cup final in 1990, when they lost to West Germany. Four years earlier, Argentina had become world champions for the second time, also in a final against the Germans.

Sabella said there are "parallels to a certain degree" between this World Cup and that of 1986, including the fact that the team to a large extent depends on a star player. Then it was Diego Maradona, now it is Lionel Messi, who has scored four goals in the tournament.

"Let's hope the result is the same," Sabella said.

Argentina has been trying to regain energy after their shootout win over the Netherlands on Wednesday, knowing Germany had one more day to recuperate after beating Brazil 7-1 on Tuesday.

achievements & innovations

Meanwhile, Germany's coach Joachim Loew who has shaped a talented German generation into an entertaining and successful team with a history of near misses needs to triumph today to finally become a winner.

Loew's achievements and the innovations he has brought into German football will always be recognised. But unless he wins the title his tenure will be regarded as a partial success, even considering the astounding 7-1 win over Brazil in the semi-finals.

Loew's job is secure - his contract had been extended through the 2016 European Championship before the World Cup. But if Germany fail to beat Argentina at the Maracana and fall short of the title in Loew's fourth straight tournament in charge, he may not be able to shake off the reputation of a coach who can't win titles.

"It's always disappointing to lose a final, but this team has a future and I am not worried," Loew said yesterday.

Germany lost the 2008 European Championship
final to Spain, who also beat Germany two years later in the World Cup
semi-finals.

With the German public expecting nothing
less than the title at Euro 2012, Loew's team lost to Italy in the
semi-finals, with the coach widely blamed for the defeat by picking
wrong tactics and wrong players.

Germany breezed
through the qualifying for the tournament in Brazil but the only blemish
was a spectacular one - allowing Sweden to rally from a four-goal
deficit to earn a 4-4 draw in Germany. Critics said Loew had failed to
react from the touchline and made no attempt to interrupt the Swedish
momentum.

  • Germany vs Argentina

Time: 2 p.m.

Venue: Estadio Maracana, Rio de Janeiro

Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)

Head-to-head: 20 games (Nine Argentina wins, six Germany wins, five draws)

This is the third World Cup final between Argentina and Germany
(including West Germany). Argentina won the first 3-2 in 1986 but were
defeated 1-0 at the 1990 tournament.

This will be the eighth time Germany or West Germany have appeared in a World Cup final - a new record.

Argentina were eliminated by Germany at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.

Argentina are the only team who have yet to fall behind at the 2014 World Cup.

Argentina's squad has an average age of just under 29 - if they win
they will replace Italy (2006) as the oldest World Cup winners.