Maradona expects Germany to pose tougher task than Mexico

June 28th, 2010 - 10:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, June 28 (DPA) Argentina coach Diego Maradona says he expected Germany to be tougher opponents than Mexico when the two teams clash in a World Cup quarter-final in Cape Town on Saturday.
After three straight victories in the group phase, Argentina extended their impressive run at the 2010 World Cup with a competent 3-1 win over Mexico in a Round of 16 match Sunday night at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.

Germany were even more convincing, trouncing ‘old enemy’ England 4-1 in Bloemfontein earlier in the day.

This weekend’s showdown in Cape Town is a rematch of the teams’ World Cup quarter-final clash four years ago in Berlin, won 4-2 by the Germans on penalties after the score was knotted 1-1.

“We are in the quarter-final but also know that Germany is a different team than Mexico. It’s stronger but we’ll field the right players in order to beat Germany,” Maradona said.

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

The sides are traditional World Cup rivals. Argentina, inspired by Maradona the player, beat Germany 3-2 to win the 1986 World Cup.

In the final four years later, with Maradona again leading up front, the Germans avenged the defeat thanks to a late penalty by Andreas Brehme.

Maradona has remained Argentina’s star attraction as coach, a post many had argued he was not qualified for.

“People said I had no idea as a coach, and suddenly I’m winning four matches and people are now considering me as someone else. But I’m still the same person and will be the same person tomorrow,” he remarked.

Maradona will again call on referees to give Lionel Messi more protection, saying the Barcelona superstar was the target of several unfair tackles by Mexico on Sunday.

Shackled by robust defending, Messi has yet to find the back of the net in South Africa, leaving Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez to pick up the slack.

Higuain reclaimed the top spot on the current World Cup scorers list - he now has four goals - with his goal against Mexico. The 22-year-old Real Madrid striker made a big splash when he grabbed a hat-trick in a group match against South Korea.

His fourth tally came at the 32-minute mark, when he capitalized on a blunder by Mexican defender Ricardo Osorio, got round goalkeeper Oscar Perez and slotted into an empty net for Argentina’s second goal in their 3-1 victory.

Higuain has been complemented by Manchester City star Carlos Tevez, who netted a brace against Mexico and was named the FIFA Man of the Match.

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