On Saturday, Argentina take on Germany. It’s a rematch of the tie at the World Cup quarter final of 2006, when the then host nation eliminated Argentina on penalties before some ugly scenes in Leipzig. This Argentina side aren’t as well balanced as José Pekerman’s 2006 vintage, but they have Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez in the form of their lives, and an enormous sense of belief and momentum behind them. The elimination of Brazil on Friday will also be a huge boost for the Albiceleste.
Messi didn’t train on Thursday due to a fever, but he was back with the squad on Friday and the nation’s now crossing its fingers that he’ll be fine during the match itself. Diego Maradona has insisted he’s got no reasons to start experimenting with his formation or starting lineup now, which means the same lineup against Germany as the side who started against Mexico and got Argentina’s first 90-minute knockout World Cup win since Italia 90. To remind you, captain Javier Mascherano and Gabriel Heinze are both a single booking away from picking up a one match ban. If they avoid that, and if Argentina go through today, they’ll have those cards wiped from their records for the semi final.
Germany showed counter-attacking pace against England in the previous round, as well as a patience and intelligence in possession that’s different to any of the sides Argentina have hitherto encountered in this World Cup. Martín Demichelis has been inconsistent so far – often brilliant in one half of a match but poor in the other – but at least knows his opponents today, thanks to his starring role for Bayern München. Expect Germany to target him and perhaps to see if they can unsettle Heinze at left back; Nicolás Otamendi already looks like he’s been playing right back all his life. He may not get the chance to get forward as he did against Mexico, but Argentina are at least far less likely to get picked off on the counter attack than England were against these opponents.
World Cup 2010 quarter final, Saturday 3rd June: Argentina starting XI to face Germany (manager: Diego Maradona)
Otamendi —- Demichelis —- Burdisso —- Heinze
M. Rodríguez —- Mascherano (c) —- Di María
Higuaín —- Tevez
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