Football

Germany have "special plan" for Messi

Joachim Loew's men believe they can stop Argentine ace, just like how they neutralised Portugal's Ronaldo

The German camp were keen observers of the World Cup semi-final between Argentina and Holland, and watched with interest as the Dutch defenders were able to subdue Lionel Messi for most of the game.

Hansi Flick, Joachim Loew's assistant coach, said Germany have a "special plan" to cope with the four-time Ballon d'Or winner in Monday morning's (Singapore time) final at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana, but refused to give details.

Messi had a relatively quiet match against Holland as yesterday morning's semi-final was settled by penalties.

The 27-year-old was often greeted by two Oranje shirts in Sao Paulo, and the Germans are also getting organised.

Flick said: "We've played a lot of matches against Argentina in the past.

"And we've also got a plan. But we're not going to reveal that here to you."

But he added: ""We're looking forward to meeting a compact, organised team and in Messi, they have one of the outstanding players of the tournament.

"We know plenty about Argentina, Germany has to accept the role of favourites, but the final will write its own script."

Right back Benedikt Hoewedes said the Germany defence will pay Messi the same close attention Cristiano Ronaldo received in the 4-0 rout of Portugal in the group stages.

Hoewedes, who helped Germany stop Ronaldo, said it was important to swarm Messi and not get caught one-on-one.

"Messi is a fantastic player, one of the best in the world, but so was Ronaldo," said Hoewedes.

"We've got to work as a collective against him because we're not going to be able to beat him one-on-one.

"When we play together tightly, even a great player like Messi will have a hard time. If we can defend decently as a team we'll contain him."

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Germany have made it to two of the last four World Cup finals but have not won the title since West Germany beat Argentina in 1990.

"We know that we're considered the favourites," said Hoewedes.

"The team is clever enough to avoid being led astray by that tag. We're not going to let any external factors distract us."

Although Germany knocked out the hosts in their 7-1 semi-final victory on Tuesday, Flick said the team hoped home fans would cheer for them in the final against Brazil's arch-rivals Argentina.

"All of us are hoping for support from the Brazilians," he said.

"I thought it was a wonderful gesture the way Brazilians celebrated for us on the journey home to Santo Andre on Wednesday night.

"All along the way there were Brazilians cheering us. It was really fantastic."

While Germany's celebrations after their massive win over Brazil in Belo Horizonte appeared muted, Flick dismissed suggestions the team would lack emotion at the Maracana.

"It's not that we want to go into the match without any emotion at all," Flick added.

"We know full well what it means to play in a World Cup final. But it's important that we maintain the disciple and react smart tactically.

"That's the line we're taking."

This is the sixth time Germany will meet Argentina at the World Cup and the second time in the final.

In their last meeting, Messi scored two years ago when Argentina enjoyed a 3-1 win over 10-man Germany in a Frankfurt friendly.

But the Germans won the recent World Cup clashes.

They routed a Diego Maradona-coached Argentina 4-0 in Cape Town at South Africa 2010 after a quarter-final penalty shootout win in Berlin four years earlier.

Germany lost the Mexico 1986 final 3-2 to Argentina, then took revenge four years later by winning the Italia 1990 final 1-0 when Argentina finished with nine men in Rome.

Argentina legend Maradona played in both matches, but Germany's veteran striker Miroslav Klose said neither match has any relevance now.

"You can't really make comparisons, Maradona was one player, but Messi is just as fantastic and they are absolutely on par," said Klose.

"We have to come up with a few surprises of our own and I am just looking forward to an exciting game, which will be marked by tactics and a bit of trickery." - Wire services.


Messi’s history in the sport is so important, he has won a lot of trophies and I will be cheering for him. He is a friend, he is my teammate and I wish him luck.

— Brazilian striker Neymar, wishing Argentina’s Lionel Messi good luck for the Final against Germany

World Cup