Germany vs Argentina is redolent of some of the most memorable, and polemical, games in World Cup history. The final between them in Mexico City in 1986 was a classic in which Diego Maradona’s team triumphed in an epic 3-2 encounter. A rematch in soccer's biggest game four years later was settled by a penalty. The game was marred by the first red cards given in a final as the Mexican referee sent off two Argentines.
Saturday’s game is another rematch, this time of the quarter-final from four years ago in which Argentina again showed a propensity to lose its cool, throwing punches as they went out on penalties.
Germany can be confident that the following faults will cause Argentina to lose again tomorrow:
1) Diego Maradona. Argentina’s greatest-ever player has been winning praise this tournament for his man-management skills as the team's coach. But he will need tactical nous to go with the hugs and kisses when his team plays Die Mannschaft. Diego's brief career in club management and the South American qualifiers, which was a far tougher test than anything faced so far in South Africa, was widely considered a failure. Diego’s efforts to turn around matches from the bench, most notably at home against Brazil, were heavily criticized. On the German side, meanwhile, Coach Joachim Low has proved to be the sort of astute touchline strategist that is increasingly fundamental to winning.
2) Argentina’s defense is a weak link in the country’s World Cup hopes. Despite the easy ride so far, defender Martin Demichelis has already shown his propensity for blunders in an earlier World Cup match against South Korea. He was also faulted for Mexico’s consolation goal on Sunday. He'll face a stiff offense in German attackers Klose, Özil, and Müller. Argentina's right-back position is also likely to be targeted by the Germans. Maradona did not call up a recognized player in the position with the inexperienced central defender Nicolás Otamendi and converted winger Jonás Gutiérrez.
3) History. Argentina is a perennial underperformer at the World Cup. Only England enters the tournament with a reputation further out of kilter with its record. And not just World Cups. In the last two Copa Americas, Argentina brought its A-Team, only to choke in both finals. Germany, despite having a habitually less glamorous squad, has historically remained much more steady under pressure. Since readmittance to the tournament after World War II, Germany has made the semifinals a record 10 times, only missing out on four occasions.
Don't buy the argument? Read three reasons why Argentina will likely beat Germany.
World Cup 101: