Argentina booked their place in the 2014 World Cup final on Wednesday, edging the Netherlands in the penalty shootout after 120 scoreless minutes. Their opponents in Sunday's historic clash will be Germany, who hammered Brazil 7-1 on Tuesday.
Sunday's contestants have an extensive history, having met 20 times (per WorldFootball.net) in the past, notably the 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals, both of which are remembered as epic clashes in World Cup history.
Argentina dominate the head-to-head with nine wins and five draws; the Germans have only won six times despite there being an even goals balance (28 scored, 28 conceded) between the two sides.
But interestingly, the balance between Germany and Argentina is entirely different when considering only competitive matches. The two sides drew 2-2 in the 2005 Confederations Cup. They've also met six times at the World Cup, with Germany winning three times and drawing twice and recording a commanding 11-5 goal difference. Argentina's only World Cup win over Germany came in the 1986 final.
Jose Luis Brown put Argentina ahead on 23 minutes and Jorge Valdano made it 2-0 on 56 minutes. The Germans roared back, equalizing within seven minutes as Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Rudi Voller netted to level on 81 minutes.
The match was anticipated to be a showdown between Diego Maradona and Lothar Matthaus and indeed, the then-25-year-olds engaged in an epic duel. Matthaus seemed to have Maradona's number throughout the match, but the Argentine took one of his few chances with six minutes left, finding Jorge Burruchaga with a brilliant, delicate through pass that assisted the winner.
Since 1986, Germany have dominated the head-to-head series in competitive games. Four years after the Albiceleste's historic win in Mexico City, Argentina and West Germany met again in the final, this time in Rome.
Argentina had played very physically throughout the tournament and were devastated by the final. They only beat quarterfinalists Yugoslavia and semifinalists Italy on penalties, and entered the final with four players suspended. It was a close game but one that went from challenging to near-impossible when substitute Pedro Monzon was sent off for the South Americans on 65 minutes.
West Germany would finally get their winner on 85 minutes under controversial circumstances, with Rudi Voller having been adjudged to have drawn a foul by Roberto Sensini. Andreas Brehme stepped up to the spot and drove his low penalty kick into the bottom-left corner. For good measure, Argentina's Gustavo Dezotti got himself sent off shortly thereafter.
Fifteen years passed before Argentina and Germany met again in competitive play, with three friendlies (two won by the Albiceleste, the other a draw) scheduled between. The 2005 Confederations Cup group-stage clash ended in a 2-2 draw; a year later, 120 minutes could not separate the two as they squared off in the World Cup quarterfinal. Roberto Ayala put Argentina ahead early in the second half but Miroslav Klose drew Germany level 10 minutes before full time.
The game eventually went to penalties, with Jens Lehmann the hero, denying Ayala and Cambiasso. A brawl would ensue that would see sanctions against Maxi Rodriguez, Leandro Cufre and Torsten Frings, the latter of whom was kept out of the World Cup semifinal due to suspension for his part in the melee.
Germany and Argentina would meet again at the 2010 World Cup, but not before a pre-tournament friendly in which Thomas Mueller and Toni Kroos each earned debut caps.
The Albiceleste won that match 1-0 in what would be Michael Ballack's last game as Germany captain and the first international in which Bastian Schweinsteiger played in defensive midfield. After the game, Argentina coach Maradona refused to speak to reporters until Mueller, whom he mistook for a ball boy, left.
Mueller would have the last laugh. Four months later, Germany were paired with Argentina in the World Cup quarterfinal and it took him less than three minutes to head in the opener.
The youngster's goal was only the beginning of a rout by the Nationalmannschaft, who were 4-0 winners on the day after Klose scored a brace and Arne Friedrich slotted home the only goal of his international career. Maradona was later dismissed from his position.
As dominant as Germany were over Argentina in 2010, the script was flipped in August of 2012 when the two sides met in a friendly. Still licking their wounds following disappointment at Euro 2012, Joachim Low's side went down a man on 30 minutes as goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler conceded a penalty and was sent off. Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved Lionel Messi's spot-kick, but Argentina nonetheless took a lead into half-time thanks to a Sami Khedira own goal shortly before the break.
Messi scored within seven minutes of the restart and Angel Di Maria got a third later on. Benedikt Hoewedes nodded home a late consolation goal, but the humiliation in Frankfurt caused some to call for Low's resignation.
The rivalry of Maradona and Matthaus will be renewed once more on Sunday as yet again, Germany and Argentina square off in the World Cup final. The Nationalmannschaft have a considerable head-to-head advantage in competition but nonetheless have long regarded the Albiceleste as worthy sparring partners. And indeed, Argentina have proven to be more than a match for Germany in test games.
Considering that 1990 was the last time either side won the World Cup, motivation for both sides will be sky-high; Sunday's pressure cooker promises to be hugely entertaining.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!