MARACANA — Germany and Argentina will revive memories of the World Cup finals gone by at the Maracana tomorrow, with both sides remembering the history of the fixture with mixed emotions.
Both their last World Cup triumphs came against each other, with Germany crowned champions after defeating the Argentines in 1990, while the 1986 final being the last time the South Americans won the trophy after edging West Germany in Mexico.
Joachim Loew’s men have had the upper hand in their most recent World Cup contests, defeating Argentina on penalties on home soil in 2006, before thumping Maradona’s men 4-0 in South Africa.
Should they triumph at the Maracana, Germany will make history as the first ever European side to win a World Cup on Latin American soil. Despite their annhilation of the hosts, native support in Brazil is likely to be behind Die Mannschaft in favour of Brazil’s nearest and bitterest rivals.
Miroslav Klose and Thomas Mueller will bring a grand total of 26 World Cup goals to the final tomorrow, a staggering tally for two of the most prolific strikers in the tournament’s history. Klose is the World Cup’s all-time record goal scorer with 16 in four tournaments, while Mueller has 10 in two editions. But the German duo’s fearsome reputation on the field masks a good-natured and soft-spoken demeanour off it.
Both are consummate team players who altruistically express due appreciation to the fine assists they get from a superb pack of midfielders. They might be famous around the world for their World Cup heroics, but in Germany they’re just two ordinary guys on Joachim Loew’s team desperate for a first World Cup title since 1990.
“The only thing that matters to me is that the team is successful and we’ll finally be able to lift the damn thing on Sunday,” Klose told reporters on Thursday.
“I’m just savouring every moment that I’m on the pitch,” added the 36-year-old, who has started Germany’s last two games after playing a reserve role before that.
“I’m soaking up all the emotions. Those are my special moments.”
Klose moved past former Brazil striker Ronaldo on the World Cup’s all-time scorer’s list with his 16th goal on Tuesday in the 7-1 demolition of the hosts.
Ronaldo, who scored his 15th and last in the 2002 final against Klose’s Germany, watched on in Belo Horizonte as his record mark was surpassed. A humble man standing 1,82 meters tall, Klose plays for Lazio after spells at Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich.
He was born in Poland and moved to West Germany as an eight-year-old in 1986. Klose is Germany’s all-time scoring leader with 71 goals for Germany in 136 appearances and he has no plans to stop no matter what happens on Sunday.
“Unfortunately,” he said with a smile.
“I feel like I can still keep going on. I feel like I can drag my corpse around for quite some time. I’ll probably make a spontaneous decision at some point (to retire) but I’m not there yet.”
Klose won the Golden Boot for most goals at the 2006 World Cup with five. He said he hopes Mueller will win the award for a second time after getting it in 2010 with his five goals.
Mueller, who is one shy of Colombian James Rodriguez’s mark of six in the top scorer charts in Brazil, is slightly taller than Klose at 1.86 meters and a renowned light-hearted prankster.
“He’s always fun to be around and always engaging the others in conversations,” Loew said of Mueller, who speaks with a thick Bavaria accent and has played at Bayern Munich since he was 18.
Even though he is only 24, Mueller already has 22 goals in 55 caps for Germany and his 10 World Cup goals leave him well set to one day catch Klose’s mark.
“That’s not something I’m thinking about at all,” Mueller told reporters recently before repeating the mantra that every Germany player comes up with at news conference.
“We’re here as a team to win the tournament. Everything else is secondary.”
But after getting his latest goal in the huge win over Brazil on Tuesday, Mueller allowed himself to joke about the possible feat.
“I’m hot on his heels now but he’s got what feels like a 20-year head start on me,” Mueller said with a laugh before praising Klose.
“He’s an indefatigable worker on the team, a real team player. There’s no one better than him.’
Head to heads
Argentina have the slight edge in all matches played between the two sides, both putting 28 goals past each other.
Argentina wins: 9
Goals for: 28
Germany wins: 6
Goals for: 28
Current Fifa rankings
Top Scorers at this World Cup
Germany: Thomas Muller (5)
Argentina: Lionel Messi (4)
Argentina have only scored eight goals in the run up to the final, compared to Germany’s 17. After their drubbing of the hosts, the Germans are now the highest scorers in World Cup history