Seasoned Germany expects to edge past Argentina
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Germans expect the experience that runs through their team to give them the edge over Argentina in Sunday's World Cup final after admitting they restrained themselves when they thumped Brazil in the semi-finals.
Germany ruined the samba nation's dream of winning the World Cup when they hammered Brazil 7-1 on Tuesday but forward Thomas Mueller revealed it could have been worse.
The Europeans were leading 5-0 at halftime and decided during the break that they would not embarrass the hosts by showboating with fancy passes or trick shots.
"With the score the way it was, we said we should avoid being arrogant and to refrain from humiliating the opponent," Mueller said on Friday.
"There was this agreement and it came from the players themselves."
Mueller, one of 10 names short-listed for the Golden Boot award given to the best player of the tournament, said Germany were anticipating a much tougher match from Argentina so could not afford to let up at any stage against the South Americans.
"I’m not expecting that we'll be ahead 5-0 at halftime again like against Brazil even though that would be nice,” he said.
"It could end up being a tight match like against Algeria or France. But it doesn’t matter. We know what we have to do.”
Germany captain Philipp Lahm also said there was no room for sentiment in the final, adding that his team was single-minded in their approach to the game.
“We’re here to win the World Cup,” he told reporters at Germany's secluded training camp at Santo Andre. “The experience we’ve got all the way through our team is definitely an edge for us."
END OF AN ERA
Regardless of the result, Sunday's match will mark the end of the road for Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella, who is stepping down, according to his agent.
A former midfielder who was capped eight times by Argentina, Sabella got involved in coaching after he retired as a player in 1989 and took on the national job in 2011.
"He's going. He's leaving whatever happens. Whether they are champions or not, a cycle is ending," agent Eugenio Lopez said.
Argentina were fined 300,000 Swiss francs ($336,000) by FIFA on Friday for failing to bring players to four pre-match news conferences during the World Cup.
However, the sport's world governing body did pick three of their players - Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and midfielder Javier Mascherano - for the Golden Boot shortlist.
Germany had four players selected, Mueller and Lahm plus Mats Hummels and Toni Kroos, while Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez, Netherlands forward Arjen Robben and Brazil's Neymar, who was injured in the quarter-finals, were also nominated.
Italian Nicola Rizzoli, a 42-year-old architect, was chosen as the referee for Sunday's showpiece game at the Maracana while Algeria's Djamel Haimoudi will take charge of Saturday's third-place playoff between Brazil and the Netherlands in Brasilia.
The future of Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari remains the source of widespread speculation in his homeland in the wake of the country's record World Cup defeat by Germany.
Scolari, who led Brazil to their fifth world crown in 2002, has not revealed his long term plans but Marco Polo Del Nero, the president-elect of the Brazilian Football Confederation, said he should keep his job because of the good work he did during his 19 months in charge.
"To me, he stays," Del Nero told the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper. "What happened was a tactical error. That was the problem. But we all make mistakes. It can happen to anyone."
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, who will is definitely leaving his post to become manager of Manchester United, has changed his tune on the importance of the third-place playoff.
Initially critical of the match, Van Gaal has now told his players a win would see them the end the tournament undefeated after they were eliminated in a penalty shootout by Argentina.
"It would be wonderful to close this World Cup by winning but we still won't be satisfied," he said.
"It will be part of my speech that this is my last match and the players may want to give me a present in the form of victory so we can finish the tournament undefeated."
(Editing by Ken Ferris)