Argentina and Germany churned out classic encounters in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, with different results. Now, Argentina have sauntered into the quarters displaying confidence not seen since our 1896 win. Although I was critical of Maradona’s selections in the qualifiers, I have to admit that he and his team of Alejandro Mancuso, Carlos Bilardo and El Negro Enrique have put together the best possible squad and instilled it with optimism and Albiceleste patriotism.
During the 3-1 victory over Mexico, Argentina never looked in jeopardy. Diego substituted Samuel with defender Burdisso, matched him with Demichelis, who was flanked by left defender Heinz and right defender Otamendi. In the midfield, De Maria stars on the left, captain Mascherano in the middle and Maxi Rodriquez on the right. The upfront line of Tevez, Higuain and Messi has proved lethal, scoring 10 goals in four games! The benched Aguero, Veron and Milito can only add to the quality as they face Germany in a key match.
The German front-line of Klose, Podolski and Ozil will test Argentina’s defence. They have also scored 10 in four games.
I have been impressed by the 20-year-old midfielder, Muller, and experienced leader, Schweinsteiger, alongside Khedira and Boateng.
The defence line of Lahm, Mertesacker, Friedrich and substitute Badstuber experienced some anxious moments at the end of the first half against England, but have been secure overall. This is the first real test for Diego's team in this World Cup. The defence will have to block Klose, Podolski, and especially, Ozil, while putting Heinze to stop Muller’s runs on the right. Mascherano will have to block Schweinsteiger and Khedira, while getting Di Maria up his own right flank to service the strikers.
The German defence will have to find a way to stop Messi from servicing Higuain and Tevez or from scoring himself. This is a mini final of sorts and the victor will gain confidence to go all the way. My prediction is 2-1, Argentina. This game will go down in history, just like the 3-2 Argentine victory in 1986 or the 1-0 German win in 1990.
Kempes top scored with 6 goals in Argentina’s 1978 World Cup win.