Match Preview: Clash of Titans as Germany Faces Argentina
It does not come much bigger than Germany versus Argentina -- a confrontation steeped in World Cup history that will bring the host country to a standstill on Friday.
Will Klinsmann's enthusiasm carry his team to the final four?
An Argentina inspired by Diego Maradona defeated West Germany 3-2 in 1986, but four years later the Germans got their revenge with a 1-0 win in Rome. That was the last time Germany defeated Argentina, with the South Americans enjoying two wins since. German national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, a member of the victorious 1990 team, hopes to change that in Berlin on Friday.
"Argentina is a great team but we can compete with them and I am sure we can beat them," Klinsmann said. "From what I have seen of the other countries in this tournament we do not need to hide from anyone."
World Cup host Germany has won four matches in a row to surge into the last eight of the tournament, and it has kept three consecutive clean sheets in the process. Klinsmann's strikers are also firing on all cylinders with Miroslav Klose leading the goal scoring charts with four, followed closely by junior partner Lukas Podolski with three.
With fan power driving them on, Germany believes a fourth World Cup title is possible. It's an ambition that is shared by Argentina. "We have to win against Germany -- however we can," Argentina captain Juan Pablo Sorin said. "We're playing a contender to win it, and all of the fans will be against us. Let's hope we can surprise them with the experience of having played more important games in the last several years."
As World Cup host Germany didn't have to qualify for the tournament and many worried its national team was too inexperienced to go far. Instead, they have exceeded most people's expectations with a fast-paced aggressive style.
Friday's match will be an intriguing contest between Germany's fit, spirited young team of relative unknowns and Argentina's exciting forward line, which is complemented by older players like Roberto Ayala and Sorin. Playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme is seen as the man that makes Argentina tick but the German team says it won't target the player.
"We cannot make the mistake of concentrating on one player because Argentina has a lot of players who could decide the game," Germany's defensive midfielder Torsten Frings said. "I cannot imagine running around after Riquelme for 90 minutes."
Javier Saviola, Hernan Crespo, Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi are just four Argentines with the potential to turn the game on its head. Despite failing to beat a recognized top nation since October 2000 -- when it defeated England 1-0 in the final match at Wembley Stadium -- the German team has been given a boost of confidence during this tournament.
"We do not fear anyone," said captain Michael Ballack. "Argentina is a top class team and its players deserve our respect, but we are confident of beating them to reach the semi-final."
The Argentinian team is well aware that Germany has scored goals inside the first six minutes in three of its four games at the finals, and midfielder Maxi Rodriguez said his team would be ready for a fast start.
"Germany won't allow us to settle down or give us a moment's freedom," Rodriguez said. "That means Argentina will look to knock them down right from the start."
Germany and Argentina met twice last year -- in February for a friendly and then at the Confederations Cup in June -- and on both occasions the score was 2-2. This time around, however, there must be a winner -- even if it takes extra time and penalties.
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