Bastian Schweinsteiger has warned his German teammates they must beware of Argentina's attempts to provoke them during Saturday's quarter-final. The midfielder said the Argentine players would be looking to throw them off their game and urged against being drawn into any provocation. "It starts before the match," Schweinsteiger, a member of the squad that beat Argentina on penalties four years ago to move into the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup, told reporters yesterday.
"If you see how they gesticulate, how they try to influence the referee. That is not part of the game. That is a lack of respect. They just are like that." Several players and coaches from both teams clashed immediately after Germany's victory on penalties in 2006, an incident that briefly overshadowed the hosts' joy of advancing to the last four. Germany and Argentina have also met twice in a World Cup final, with the Europeans winning in 1990 and the South Americans coming out on top four years earlier.
"We should not be provoked by them," Schweinsteiger said. "I hope the referee will pick up the feeling of who is provoking whom. We saw that again in their match against Mexico at half time." There was a heated exchange between the Argentina and Mexico benches at the interval of their last-16 match after Roberto Rosetti, the Italian referee, let Argentina's first goal stand despite being clearly offside. Argentina won 3-1 to advance.
Meanwhile, Joachim Loew, the Germany coach, has labelled Argentina as favourites to win the World Cup, and said it would be a mistake to believe Lionel Messi is the only good player in Diego Maradona's team. Loew said he expected a close game when the two teams clash in Cape Town. "Argentina has a great many strengths. It's one of the big favourites, maybe the favourite for the World Cup title," Loew said yesterday.
"It has a big defence and an outstanding offence. It's not only Lionel Messi. But I think we have identified some areas where Argentina is vulnerable. "I am also expecting an attacking game," Loew added. "Argentina is a tightly knit team that can give you a lot of trouble and they are clinical in punishing your mistakes." When Germany triumphed on penalties four years ago, Jens Lehmann took a cheat sheet out of his sock with information on the Argentine penalty takers and which way they usually took their kicks.
But Loew said there would be no repeat this time from Manuel Neuer, Germany's current goalkeeper. "When you see how many penalty takers they have, it would make no sense," Loew said. Loew added Cacau was unlikely to recover from a thigh injury in time for the match. The striker did not train with the team yesterday and he will have a fitness test before Saturday's match. * Agencies