Friday, July 2, 2010
Maradona bestrides Argentina v Germany rivalry
For current Germany manager Loew, struggling to make an impact as a player in the 80s and embarking on his coaching career by the 1990 tournament, Maradona was everything.
"These games have a long history but during that time Maradona had a phase which was so strong and dominant that he defined an era like no other player," Loew said Friday.
"He was magical with his game. With his creativity and invention he galvanised the whole world. In 1986 he was at his peak where he almost single-handedly decided the Cup in Argentina's favour."
Loew had a much closer view of the teams' next World Cup meeting, as Germany triumphed on penalties in the quarter-finals after a 1-1 draw in Berlin four years ago.
As assistant to Juergen Klinsmann he had seen the teams battle out two 2-2 draws the previous year -- one in the Confederations Cup and one friendly -- and though there was nothing friendly about the 2006 clash, which ended with a mass brawl after the shoot-out, Loew said the aftermath was not a fair reflection of the match.
"There was a bit of an escalation but that should not be in our heads. I never thought it was unfair or violent -- it was hard-fought for 120 minutes," he said.
"They are passionate and are fully committed. They are at the limit, as are all South American teams, but they do what is allowed.
"They are also very strong physically, you saw that in 2006 but also in March when we lost the friendly 1-0 in Munich."
That win, decided by a Gonzalo Higuain goal, was Argentina's eighth in the series that began in the 1958 World Cup with the first of West Germany's four wins (including the 2006 sho eighth in the series that began in the 1958 World Cup with the first of West Germany's four wins (including the 2006 shoot-out).
Which way the 19th goes Saturday remains anyone's guess.
"Both teams are capable of beating each other , we know it will be another cut-throat game," said Loew, who fittingly gave his last words on Maradona.
"He was always an attacking player," he said.
"And that is where he will want to leave his mark as a coach."