Why Germany should fear Argentina in final
Messi's band will not care for a free-flowing game in their bid to lift world title
The passion for the game is the same in Uruguay, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, although the brand played the length and breadth of the South American continent sits on a tipping point.
Fall on one side and there is a skill level, joy, knowledge and unbridled enthusiasm on show that is jealously admired everywhere else in the world.
Go over the other way and the football style evokes a dangerous desperation that mostly makes the rest of the world community complain bitterly, and even recoil.
Argentina's football team have no qualms winning through either means, and Germany will fear this most here today (tomorrow morning, Singapore time) in the 2014 World Cup final.
Only their great rivals Brazil are charged to win football matches beautifully and Argentina are fine with that.
They entered the tournament boasting perhaps the finest attacking weapons among the various international armouries, with Lionel Messi the most potent force in a group that also featured Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.
While Messi has scored four goals, and di Maria has been indefatigable in trying to unlock defences, the unit have yet to come together with one explosive roar.
But Argentina have hardly cared, they have progressed to the final inspired by an outstanding defence and their ability to spoil, so prominently on display against Holland, will once again be key as they plot an improbable success today.
Joachim Loew's Germany are the best team in this tournament, they are a complete outfit with talent to spare.
Thomas Mueller is threatening to win the Golden Boot, Toni Kroos could be honoured with the Golden Ball and Miroslav Klose has just become the World Cup's all-time goalscorer.
Along the way to the finale at the Maracana, they also inflicted the most damaging defeat in the history of Brazil's national team with a stunning first half show in the semi-finals that will never be forgotten.
Two heavyweights of the world game are set to meet, with five World Cup wins between them, each with their own fabled football storylines to fall back on.
Twice the Germans became world champions at the expense of what was widely regarded as the best teams of the particular era - the Hungarians in 1954 and the Dutch in 1974.
With a choking military dictatorship that used all means - legal and illegal - to get the team to the final, a Mario Kempes-led Argentina lifted their first world title as hosts with a thrilling win over the luckless Dutch in the 1978 final.
And, of course, Diego Maradona turned Mexico into his personal playground in 1986 with an individual display that will probably never be repeated, as he hoisted his country on his shoulders all the way to the promised land, beating the Germans in another thrilling finale.
Just maybe, though, coach Alejandro Sabella will turn to the next page and Argentina's loss to West Germany in the 1990 final to find the clue over how to prevail in today's showpiece.
The Germans were similarly imperious and rampant then, few gave an Argentina side hugely reliant on a half-fit Maradona much of a chance.
But, in an ugly final, Franz Beckenbaeur's side only just made it over the line through a dubious late penalty.
For long periods of the game, the South Americans stifled their opponents, closing down space, tackling, scratching, pulling, slowing down the pace of the game by any means necessary, waiting for the one lucky chance, or the one moment of magic from their No. 10, to swing the final their way.
Or the gamble of a penalty shootout.
They were unlucky and only just failed, but Argentina have all the tools to pull it off 24 years later.
Even if Messi is fatigued.
They have an obdurate, disciplined defence made even more menacing with the "pit bull" Javier Mascherano as midfield sentry.
Messi may wear the armband, but in the semi-final against the Dutch, his Barcelona teammate was barking instructions at Martin Demichelis, Marcos Rojo and Pablo Zabelata.
Mascherano is the rock behind Argentina's defensive solidity and must play well if they are to taste ultimate glory.
Crucially, di Maria should be fit, which means Argentina will once again show off an attack of various options that could fatally hurt the German defence.
Despite the Germans' traditional reputation for mental strength, I don't think Argentina will even mind getting to another shootout, with goalkeeper Sergio Romero reputed to be an expert in the roulette.
Lilian Thuram picked Argentina to prevail over Holland in the semi-finals.
The French star of the 1998 World Cup winning team told me he liked the fact their defenders had a rugged toughness about them.
As a star member of the elite defensive club, he may have been biased, but he knows what it takes to lift football's most golden trophy.
Argentina will not allow free-flowing football to reign today.
They will turn the final into boring fare, waiting for that vital breakthrough possibly from their tired talisman, who I believe will rouse himself for one final effort because of what is at stake.
It may be ugly, but if Messi gets his chance and perhaps rounds a wandering Manuel Neuer for the solitary winner in an ordinary game, the Argentines and their hordes will not care.