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Argentina, Germany set for showdown

india Updated: Jun 29, 2006 17:54 IST
Highlight Story

The rivalry between Argentina and Germany is an old one, including two World Cup finals, with one victory each.

And it's bubbling up again.

The teams meet again tomorrow, when the quarterfinal in Berlin puts Argentine wonder boy Lionel Mess and Lukas Podolski of Germany on centre stage. But for the two young stars, the World Cups that started it all exist only in the books - or the videos.

Messi, who just turned 19, wasn't even born when Diego Maradona led Argentina to a 3-2 win over Germany in the 1986 final in Mexico. Four years later, Germany took its revenge, disposing 1-0 of Argentina to win its third world title.

"I've seen the goals on video," Messi said of the 1986 final.

The 24-year-old Podolski, who has scored three goals for Germany in this World Cup, has no real recollections of that game.

Argentina was ahead 2-0 that day with goals by Jose Luis Brown and Jorge Valdano, but things got tight when Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Rudi Voeller scored one goal each to make it 2-2 with only 10 minutes left.

Maradona, an acknowledged admirer of the young Messi, took the ball in the middle of the field and set up Jorge Burruchaga with a precise pass. Burruchaga ran a few yards and scored the winner.

"When the Germans tied, I was not scared at all," Maradona recalled later in his 2002 autobiography.

That 1986 World Cup also went down in history as the tournament of two unforgettable Maradona goals, both against England. The first was the infamous "hand of God" goal. On the second, he dribbled through half the English team, widely considered the best goal ever in a World Cup.

Four years later, it was again Argentina vs Germany in a World Cup final, this time in Rome. But the final match at Olympic Stadium has been considered one of the poorest, most boring in World Cup history.

As the Argentine national anthem was played before the start, fans jeered noisily and apparently Maradona was at least part of the reason.

"Northern Italians never forgave Maradona for leading a modest southern team such as Napoli to victories over traditional northern powerhouses such as Juventus, Inter or Milan," Sergio Levinsky, a veteran Argentine newsman said in explaining the fans' reaction.

In addition, Argentina eliminated Italy from the tournament.

Maradona, still not fully recovered from a foot injury, was not at his best in the match and the team struggled. Germany won on a penalty kick by Andreas Brehme.

Not a final to remember. Just one goal and red cards for Argentines Pedro Monzon and Gustavo Dezotti.

Many agree that Codesal's call in the 84th minute was dubious.

Franz Beckenbauer became world champion as the German coach, as he had done in 1974 as a player and team captain. Current German coach Juergen Klinsmann was a striker on the 1990 team.

Beckenbauer, as head of the World Cup organising committee, will attend the match Friday. So will Maradona, who has cheered and applauded every Argentina match in this World Cup, always wearing the "Albiceleste" -- the blue-and-white Argentine team shirt.

The Argentina coach in 1990 was Carlos Bilardo, who recently recalled how Beckenbauer made a substitution after Argentina was down to 10 players.

"He sent a side back to replace another side back," Bilardo told the Buenos Aires daily La Nacion. "This guy really respects us. 'Who knows?' I thought, 'we may have a chance in the overtime.'"

But there was no overtime. Brehme's penalty kick ended it all.

Referee Codesal soon whistled the end of the match and Germany captain Lothar Matthaeus lifted the World Cup. A few yards away, Argentina captain Maradona cried openly.

There will be no cup lifted tomorrow, but there may be many tears for one of these old rivals.

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