Read the latest Argentina v Germany preview.
The hosts vs the most ‘complete’ team in the tournament. At this stage it’s hard to chose between sides, but a lot of the hype surrounding both teams is just that – hype.
Analysts have made much of Germany’s attacking talents but it must be remembered that they have now scored 10 goals against mediocre opposition. Argentina, on the other hand, managed to score twice against the Ivory Coast and twice against the Mexicans – unarguably the two tough matches the South Americans have had to play this tournament.
On the other hand, Argentina are not the force the media has made them to be despite the 6-0 S&M of … S&M. They were stretched in all the other matches and they have looked a bit weak on the flanks despite their strength in the midfield. They are always looking to score, and with Germany being an attacking side as well this match promises to be one of the best matchups of the tournament.
Germany are fresh, have the crowd behind them and what’s more, they have the self-belief that they just might go through. Winning will bring that to you, especially if you come out of an easy group and go into the quarter-finals without really having stretched yourselves.
Germany also have the advantage of having a side that is both naturally attacking and comfortable with playing down the wings. Argentina have lacked width and while they thwarted Mexico, Germany have more firepower with all front 6 players capable of scoring from any range. It should be interesting to see how Klinsmann uses Schneider and Schweinsteiger on the wings, and how he instructs Frings to deal with Riquelme.
Germany’s best bet would be to man mark Riquelme and shut down their midfield, and seeing how all sides in the quarter-finals have come through on the back of strong defenses (at least in second round matches), they would be paying close attention to videos of Tevez and Messi as well. The Argentine forwards and wingers excel at making runs to draw away markers and the Germans will have to be very alert about that.
Germany have the luxury of picking from a full squad, with both Michael Ballack and Miroslave Klose shaking off injuries to be fit for tomorrow match. A settled squad automatically breeds confidence, and with the fans behind them, Ballack and co. will be going for gold come Friday.
Argentina will be looking at Germany’s two weak points – their young defense and a keeper that, despite his clean sheets, did not look at his best in the game against Sweden. You only have to go back 3 weeks to the start of the tournament to remember that Lehmann was potentially at fault (along with the right-back and the linesman) for both of Costa Rica’s goals. The Argentines will know this, and they will be looking to start fast and hit Germany as quickly as possible.
They have had tough matches, and they will be looking towards that experience to guide them through against Germany. Peckerman has held back Messi and Tevez for most of the tournament, and while the two will probably start on the bench again their introduction (likely in the second half) will be a very powerful weapon at his disposal. Germany, worrying, don’t have such a super-sub on the bench. Neuville is not exactly the sort of striker to make you quiver in your boots, nor can he beat you with pace like Messi can.
Argentina may yet start with Cambiasso, preferring Luis Gonzalez on the right to give them more width. It would mean that Mascherano would be the lone defensive midfielder, and his marking on Ballack should be one of the highlights for the match. Ballack, if you remember, has had 15 or so shots on goal without scoring. If Mascherano can shut him down, Germany will find it difficult to score.
The German defense is still suspect for me and Argentina just might edge this one thanks to the pace and strength of their subs.
It can’t hurt that the winner of this match will play one of Italy and Ukraine in the semi-final. Ukraine were by far the worst team even in the second round (worse than Ecuador, yes), and they are lucky to be in the quarters. On the other hand Italy have been rocked by scandals (and suicide attempts) back home, plus their form has been patchy. Italy still need just one game to turn their fortunes around, but both Germany and Argentina would fancy their chances against Italy.
With a possible seat in the final to play for, both teams will go at each other hard. I don’t expect many goals, and if the Argentines get one in early we might be in for a dour, defensive game.
Argentina wins 2-1.