To hear some of the praise lavished on Germany following its second-round victory over England, you'd think it was a reincarnation of
It's not. Or at least it's not yet, for the strength of its youth sides suggests the next decade may be a very bright one for German football. All that can be said with any certainty about this side, though, is that it is very good at picking off teams who play too high against them, as Australia did in losing 4-0, and as England did in losing 4-1 last Sunday. Serbia and Ghana defended deeper, and the result was two far tighter games.
Argentina defend deep as a matter of course, and are rather more potent than either Ghana or Serbia going forward. Manager
What, then, of
Give him space and he will pick a team apart. The problem against Argentina, though, is that sitting in just the space he likes to operate will be
That leaves Argentina's two
It's not quite true to say that Argentina's basic tactic in this World Cup is to keep it tight and get the ball to Messi, just as it's not quite true to say its tactic in 1986 was to keep it tight and get the ball to Maradona, but it's not far off. Nobody since Maradona has been so adept at beating not just one defender but two or three, and what Germany cannot do is allow him to run at its two big, somewhat clumsy center backs,
Beyond the matchup of players, though, there is also an intriguing meeting of personality. Something that, for some reason, is never written about -- perhaps because it doesn't fit the conception of scheming Latins and industrious northern Europeans -- is that this German side, like many in the past, and like
"The Argentinians provoke and are always whingeing to the referee to try and change his opinion. We shouldn't let ourselves be affected by their provocations," he said. "It starts before the match. You see their body language, how they gesticulate, how they try to influence the referee. That is not part of the game. That is a lack of respect.
They are like that. We should not be provoked by them. I hope the referee will pick this up."
For Schweinsteiger, who got
Argentina has revenge very much on its mind and, if it comes down to an open contest, it should achieve it. If Germany can somehow neutralize both Messi and Tevez, though, and if Ozil can make the most of any opportunity Mascherano allows him, then Germany could just steal it.