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September 19, 2014

soccer — national team

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Argentina and Germany renew rivalry

Argentina''s coach Gerardo Martino (left) speaks to Gonzalo Higuaín during a training session.

Martino makes debut in a rematch of World Cup final today

Gerardo Martino will make his debut as Argentina’s new coach today when his team faces Germany in Düsseldorf. Without Lionel Messi, Argentina will play with three attackers.

BERLIN — Argentina and Germany clash again 52 days after contesting the World Cup final, albeit with less at stake when the sides meet for a friendly in Düsseldorf.

It may seem incongruous to celebrate winning the World Cup with the defeated side in attendance, but today’s game was organized last March, well before Mario Götze scored in injury time on July 13 to give Germany its fourth title with a 1-0 win.

Some 40,000 fans turned up to celebrate Joachim Löw’s side during Monday’s open training session and Argentina will be keen to dampen their mood, particularly after German players poked fun at the beaten finalists on their return from Brazil with their “Gaucho dance” in Berlin.

Both sides are beginning new eras as they meet for the second time in two months. Argentina has a new coach, Gerardo Martino, appointed to continue the work of predecessor Alejandro Sabella, who stepped down following the World Cup final after almost three years in charge.

Argentina star Lionel Messi will miss the match with a right leg injury. Defender Ezequiel Garay, midfielder Maxi Rodríguez and forward Rodrigo Palacio are also ruled out.

Martino will make his debut as a coach with a 4-3-3. The team will be: Sergio Romero; Pablo Zabaleta, Federico Fernández, Martín Demichelis, Marcos Rojo; Lucas Biglia, Javier Mascherano, Enzo Pérez; Erik Lamela, Sergio Agüero and Ángel Di María.

In yesterday’s training session, the trainer put Nicolás Gaitán in Di María’s place, but the new Manchester United’s record signing will be part of the first team today.

Lamela and Gaitán were both called up by Martino as the team suffered many injuries. The former Roma and River Plate attacking midfielder Lamela started a new season with Tottenham Hotspurs in great form, while former Boca Juniors’ Gaitán has been one of the best Benfica players in the last seasons.

Germany has had to contend with several high-profile retirements. Record scorer Miroslav Klose, experienced defender Per Mertesacker and captain Philipp Lahm all hung up their boots after success in Brazil, the latter despite being 30 years old and arguably at his peak.

Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger was named captain of the national team yesterday, succeeding Bayern Munich teammate Lahm.

The 30-year-old Schweinsteiger, who has won 108 caps and scored 23 goals for Germany, will not lead the team in today’s friendly rematch of the final against Argentina due to injury.

The Bayern Munich midfielder, who is the most experienced player in the squad since the departure of Lahm, will also miss Sunday’s game against Scotland.

Löw announced a late call-up, bringing in midfielder Sebastian Rudy with Jerome Boateng and Sami Khedira doubtful for the Argentina game and Mesut Özil and Mats Hummels ruled out.

The coach also said former VfB Stuttgart coach Thomas Schneider would be his new assistant, succeeding Hansi Flick, who becomes the federation’s sports director.

“The challenge with the national team is a great one,” the 41-year-old Schneider said. “I am honoured that both the DFB and Joachim Löw trusted in me.

“I know Joachim Löw since my time as a player at Stuttgart and already then I noticed how similarly we thought about soccer,” said Schneider, whose only Bundesliga job lasted less than a season.

Herald staff with agencies

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