July 23, 2014
Loew: 'Argentina much more than just Messi'
Argentina have a great asset in four-times world player of the year Lionel Messi but they are far more than just a one-man show, Germany coach Joachim Loew warned ahead of the World Cup final on Sunday.
The Argentines needed the skills and goal-scoring prowess of talismanic Messi to reach the final at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium but Loew said it would be a mistake to view this team as Messi's.
"This team is not just Messi and if you think that then you would be making a mistake," Loew, eyeing Germany's first World Cup trophy in 24 years, told reporters today.
"They have other attacking powers like Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria. This team does not live solely on Messi. They have a good compact organisation, better than in 2010."
The Argentina captain has scored four goals and set up another as his team moved into their first final since 1990, when they lost to West Germany.
The Germans also knocked Argentina out of the 2006 and 2010 World Cups at the quarter-final stage.
"Sure, Messi can be decisive but it is a much better organised team nowadays and it will be a tight final with unbelievable battles," Loew said.
Argentina edged past the Netherlands on penalties to get a shot at their third World Cup win while Germany humbled hosts Brazil 7-1 to move to the brink of their fourth title.
"We should not take the Brazil game as the measure of things. Argentina are a completely different team," the 54-year-old coach said.
"They can pressure opponents with their first line of attack early on but they also sometimes fall back and what is also one of their strengths through defending and ball possession they bring Messi, Di Maria and Aguero quickly into the game."
One such quick move between Messi and Di Maria gave the Argentines a last-gasp extra-time victory over Switzerland in the last 16.
Aguero and Di Maria, however, have suffered injuries in this tournament and are unlikely to start on Sunday.
"These quick switchovers, Argentina have been doing this in the tournament. They can be behind the ball with eight or nine and then launch quick attacks," Loew said, adding that if Germany read the game well and played as they could they would end an 18-year international title drought.
They would also become the first European team to win the trophy on South American soil.
"We know their potential and respect them but we are confident that if we play our game then we can do it," he said.
"Wherever a final takes place, the aim is to win it and bring the Cup home. But we can indeed make history here on a continent where South American teams have dominated and that is an additional joy."