Friday, July 2, 2010

Messi in harness as Argentina promise fireworks

Pretoria, July 2 (bdnews24.com/AFP) - Argentina were boosted on Friday when Lionel Messi trained normally ahead of the World Cup quarter-final against Germany while coach Diego Maradona pledged his men would stay true to their attacking style.
"It would be a sin to change now. I am not going to play 4-4-2," Maradona vowed ahead of Saturday's showdown at Cape Town.Messi, who reportedly had a cold which curtailed his training session on Thursday, has recovered and should be fit to start."The best news of the day at the University of Pretoria was the return to training of Lionel Messi - the fright has passed ... tomorrow he will be in the starting line-up against Germany in Cape Town," Clarin daily newspaper reported.

Messi, still looking for his first goal of the competition, is therefore set to feature in an attacking trident with Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain. Higuain was on target when Argentina won the countries' last meeting 1-0, a friendly in Munich. While his defence has held up to date at the World Cup, Maradona knows his strongest suit is attack. He can call on no fewer that six top forwards - his son-in-law Sergio Aguero, Champions League winner Diego Milito and veteran Martin Palermo as well as his main first choices.The super six netted more than 150 goals between them last season. "We are improving all the time - and gaining respect. People know we can hit them, at any time up front," said Tevez, who scored a brace in the last 16 win over Mexico.

Now it is the Germans who stand in their way. Argentina beat them in a memorable 1986 final before the boot was on the other foot four years later. Four years ago it was the Germans' turn again in the last 16 in Berlin on penalties.
Now the young brigade of Thomas Mueller, Mesut Ozil and the seasoned campaigners of Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose will duel with Maradona's men and it's all or nothing for the man who wants to emulate Franz Beckenbauer in winning the trophy as skipper and then coach. As Maradona puts it, one mistake "and you're on the plane home."

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