SANTO ANDRÉ (AFP) – Germany have a secret plan to shut Argentina superstar Lionel Messi out of Sunday’s World Cup final at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana Stadium.
Assistant coach Hansi Flick said Thursday there is a “special plan” to cope with the four-time Ballon d’Or winner but refused to give details.
Messi had a relatively quiet match against the Netherlands as Wednesday’s semi-final was settled by penalties.
The 27-year-old was often greeted by two Oranje shirts in Sao Paulo and the Germans are also getting organized.
“We saw how the Dutch managed to keep Messi out, but we too have a special plan for him — although I won’t give that away,” said Flick.
“We’re looking forward to meeting a compact, organised team and in Messi, they have one the outstanding players of the tournament.
“We know plenty about Argentina, Germany has to accept the role of favourites, but the final will write it’s own script.”
Defender Benedikt Hoewedes said the Germany defence will pay Messi the same close attention Cristiano Ronaldo received in the 4-0 rout of Portugal in the group stages.
“Messi is one of the best players in the world, but just as I said before the Portugal game when we faced Ronaldo, we have to defend as a team,” said the left-back.
“We have to stifle his opportunities to score goal and create dangerous situations.”
This is the sixth time Germany will meet Argentina at the World Cup and the second time in the final.
On their most recent meeting, Messi scored two years ago when Argentina enjoyed a 3-1 win over ten-man Germany in a Frankfurt friendly.
The Germans won the most recent World Cup meetings. They routed a Diego Maradona-coached Argentina 4-0 in Cape Town at South Africa 2010 after a quarter-final penalty shoot-out win in Berlin four years earlier.
Germany lost the Mexico 1986 final 3-2 to Argentina, then took revenge four years later by winning the Italia 1990 final 1-0 when Argentina finished with nine men in Rome.
Argentina legend Maradona played in both matches, but Germany’s veteran striker Miroslav Klose said neither match has any relevance now.
“You can’t really make comparisons, Maradona was one player, but Messi is just as fantastic and they are absolutely on par,” said Klose.
“We have to come up with a few surprises of our own and I am just looking forward to an exciting game, which will be marked by tactics and a bit of trickery.”
Flick warned Germany fans not to expect anything like Tuesday’s remarkable 7-1 semi-final rout of Brazil, especially after Argentina’s penalty shoot-out win against the Dutch.
“It’s going to be a completely different game to the semi-final,” said Flick.
The Argentina-Netherlands semi-final “was a tactical match, both teams neutralised each other.
“The theme of the game was two excellent defences and not every match can be as spectacular as Germany-Brazil,” said Flick.