World Cup - Do Germany have a plan to stop Messi?

Germany manager Joachim Loew is at pains to point out that Argentina are more than just 10 men plus Lionel Messi ahead of the World Cup final.

Eurosport
World Cup - Do Germany have a plan to stop Messi?
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Joachim Loew has a plan for Lionel Messi

However, shackling the best player in the world, who has scored four goals in Brazil, is still something of a mammoth task for Germany.

In fact, Argentina are trying to play down the Messi hype as well - his name was noticeable by its absence at their pre-match press conference.

But irrespective of the noises coming out of both camps, Messi will undoubtedly be the main attraction at the Maracana tonight.

WHAT LOEW SAID

"This team is not just Messi and if you think that then you would be making a mistake. They have other attacking powers like Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria. This team does not live solely on Messi. They have a good compact organisation, better than in 2010. Sure, Messi can be decisive but it is a much better organised team nowadays and it will be a tight final with unbelievable battles."

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WHAT SABELLA SAID

On similarities between Maradona in 1986 and Messi in 2014: "Let's hope the result is the same, for starters. I was in Brazil when the match took place in 1986, and yes there are similarities. Let's hope the result will be repeated. We [he and Bilardo] spoke about the importance of midfield, giving solidity to a team. You need to play continuously in the World Cup, and you have to be solid mentally and physically, with the right mindset."

WHAT MESSI SAID

"My dreams and my hopes are being fulfilled due to the hard work and sacrifice of a team that has given everything from match one. We knew it was possible. Our people, the Argentineans, they have carried us here. But the dream is not over yet, tomorrow we want to win and we are ready!”

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WHAT THEY SAID

Javier Zanetti: "Anything can happen in the final, but I believe in my Argentina and trust they can put in a great performance. I hope that we can win. Germany are a strong side, but we have Messi who is still number one and can invent something at any moment."

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David Beckham: "[Messi] gives people so much pleasure with the way he plays and what makes him special is he plays as a team-mate as well, a good team player. He's got great individual skill, but winning means everything to him. If other team-mates score goals he's the first one there to celebrate with them and I think that says a lot about him."

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WHAT THE MEDIA SAID

Alan Smith, The Telegraph: The Germany camp insist they have a plan. They have sat down to discuss the threat of Lionel Messi and come up with a way to try to stop him. So what will it be? And more to the point from Argentina’s perspective, how will Alejandro Sabella’s team make sure their little maestro influences the game in the areas they want? On the first point, I think we can safely discount man-marking. Nigel de Jong, admittedly, did it effectively for Holland until chronic fatigue forced a withdrawal. Louis van Gaal could therefore claim justification for going out of his way to shackle Messi. But it is different for Germany.

For a start, Joachim Löw does not boast a player quite like De Jong, someone ideally suited to this specific role. Yes, he could ask, say, Sami Khedira to follow Messi around but that would severely detract from the midfielder’s game. Khedira has far too many attacking qualities to restrict him this way. Bastian Schweinsteiger is a slightly different matter but, again, I cannot see him being tied to this one-dimensional role. So when Germany say they have a plan, I think it probably entails doing what they have been doing all along – pushing up and squeezing the space to let Manuel Neuer sweep up behind.

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EUROSPORT'S VIEW

Loew is a sensible and grounded man, and his comments remind his team of the dangers of complacency - just because Messi is subdued, that doesn't mean a Germany victory is guaranteed.

That said, fans all around the world will be looking to Messi to produce the magic of which he is capable - whether they're German fans wary of his skill, Argentina fans hoping for him to lead them to glory, or simply fans of the game wishing for a beautiful on-pitch spectacle. Zanetti rightly points out that Messi needs only a few seconds to create and convert a chance, but Beckham's emphasis on Messi's commitment to the team is equally accurate.

Messi may be the one who grabs headlines, whether on form or not, but if the rest of the team are firing then they are a real threat to Loew's Germany.

[WHERE THE WORLD CUP FINAL WILL BE WON OR LOST]

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Well, the World Cup Final happens next. It's all down to tonight. Is Loew simply being over-cautious? Is Messi really tired or carrying a knock? All will unfold in the Maracana this evening.

[MATCHPACK: GERMANY V ARGENTINA]

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