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Super Saturday

sports Updated: Jun 29, 2010 00:51 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

With a little help from referees and Mexican defender Ricardo Osorio, Argentina and Germany set up a World Cup quarter-final on Saturday. They met at the same stage last time too but each team will take different memories of Munich into Cape Town.

Lionel Messi, for instance, will not like to remember agonising as Argentina exited on penalties. Now, his coach describes him as a “jet plane on a pitch” and his being constantly fouled a “scandal”. Gabriel Heinze, Maxi Rodrigues, Carlos Tevez or Nicolas Burdisso who are here and were there will not have good memories either.

Roberto Ayala scored but missed in the shootout after Germany equalised as did Esteban Cambiasso. Neither is here.

Having scored the equaliser, Miroslav Klose will have happier memories as will Joachim Loew, promoted to manager from being Juergen Klinsmann's assistant. Ditto Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Friedrich Arne and Lukas Podolski.

The unhappiest memories of a match between these two former World Cup winners, though, belong to a man present only as a fan last time. Even if Diego Maradona has forgotten weeping as Lothar Matthaeus lifted the World Cup in 1990, the world will make him remember. Over the next few days, it should add another chapter to what has been an interesting sideshow.

First questions about Germany came minutes after the 3-1 win against Mexico, at Soccer City on Sunday. “Germany is stronger (than Mexico) but we'll field the right players in order to beat them,” said Maradona.

“We are extremely proud of the team and I believe these four wins (at the World Cup) have helped the team grow together. We will try to put together the gala team in order to showcase our talents against Germany.”

Having admitted to being selfish and scoring from an off-side position on Sunday, Tevez said the mood in the camp is getting buoyant with every win and that using the experience of Maradona, they can win the World Cup.

Like Maradona in the 1986 quarter-final against England, if the first goal was cheating, the second was anything but. Tevez's 52nd minute missile put the game beyond Mexico, Javier Hernandez's superb left-footer being a reducer that came too late.

Between Tevez's brace, Gonzalo Higuain made the most of finding an unlikely 'teammate' in Osorio and Argentina, riding a referee and a defender's blunder, walked away with the game 33 minutes after it started. That was an almost-mortal blow, Mexico coach Javier Aguirre said after their fifth straight win.

That they let Mexico play for most of the second half, had Carlos Salcido's thunderbolt thud into the horizontal and Andres Guardado's left-footer narrowly miss the target didn't matter.

"Argentina were superior for 90 minutes," Maradona said.

That, as they say, is that.