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June 30, 2010

Germans: Argentina shows no respect

Associated Press

ERASMIA, South Africa -- Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger accuses World Cup quarterfinals rival Argentina of showing no respect for opponents and referees, and urges his teammates not to be provoked.

Germany eliminated Argentina on penalty kicks four years ago at the same stage and there were chaotic scenes after the shootout, with both sides exchanging punches and kicks in a fracas that included team officials from both benches.

Soccer Fracas 2006 World Cup
AP Photo/Thomas KienzleThe fracas at the end of Germany's 2006 World Cup win over Argentina has not been forgotten, German players said Wednesday.

"The shootout is still in our memory, but what really weighs heavily on our minds is what happened after that match," Schweinsteiger said Wednesday. "We have to remain calm and not get provoked and I hope the referee will be very alert.

"You could see their behavior at halftime of the game against Mexico. When you look at their body language and gesticulations, the way they try to influence the referees, they have no respect. It's their mentality and character and we'll have to adjust."

Mexico and Argentina players had to be separated as they headed for the tunnel at halftime of the teams' second-round game, with the Mexicans furious over Argentina's first goal that came when scorer Carlos Tevez clearly was offside.

Argentina won 3-1.

Schweinsteiger also accused Argentine fans of taking the places of others in the stadiums and refusing to move. It was not clear where he got his evidence from.

But the midfielder praised Argentina as a team, saying the squad coached by Diego Maradona was better in "every sector" than the team Germany beat four years ago.

Schweinsteiger singled out veteran Juan Sebastian Veron.

"He has played very strongly here. I have been impressed," Schweinsteiger said.

Schweinsteiger repeated that stopping Argentina star Lionel Messi will need a strong "collective effort."

"Other teams also have done it. He hasn't scored yet and we want to keep it that way," said Schweinsteiger, who has played 78 games for Germany although he is still just 25.

"We'll find the right game plan to hurt Argentina, although we know how strong Argentina is. At this level, you can't make mistakes, it's the details that decide the match."

Thomas Mueller, who scored twice against England, could be the deciding factor in the match, which might be embarrassing to Maradona.

By now, he should have heard of Mueller. The last time Argentina played Germany in a friendly in March, Maradona felt so slighted when Mueller sat on the podium with him at the postmatch news conference that he stormed off and refused to return until Mueller left the stage to the coach alone.

Mueller had just made his debut for Germany then. Now, he leads his team at the World Cup with three goals.

Coach Joachim Loew said forward Cacau is unlikely to recover from a right thigh injury in time for the match.

Argentina beat Germany 1-0 with relative ease in that March friendly in Munich. Schweinsteiger said that result meant little.

"One, it was a friendly. Two, they did not create many chances either. Three, we have gained a lot of confidence by beating England and the good tactics we used in that game," Schweinsteiger said.

Germany advanced to the quarterfinal with a 4-1 win.

Schweinsteiger said he expected the upcoming match to be a tactical affair, "just as it was in 2006."

Argentina has only one win over Germany at the World Cup, in the 1986 final when Maradona was still playing. Overall in the World Cup, they have met five times and twice in the final.

Maradona led Argentina to that 3-2 win in Mexico, while in Italy in 1990, Germany won 1-0 on a penalty kick. Those were also the last times either team won the World Cup.

Germany won a group match 3-1 in 1958 and the two teams drew 0-0 in another group match in 1966.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press