What Can Argentina Learn from 2006 and 2010 World Cup Defeats to Germany?

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What Can Argentina Learn from 2006 and 2010 World Cup Defeats to Germany?
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The experience of being knocked out of the last two World Cups by Germany should work in Argentina's favour when they take on the Europeans once again in Sunday's final.

Jose Pekerman's side were defeated on penalties by Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2006 tournament, while Diego Maradona's team went down 4-0 at the same stage in 2010.

Ever the pragmatist, current manager Alejandro Sabella will likely have studied those defeats and taken some valuable lessons from them.

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In 2006, La Albiceleste dazzled in the group stages before squeezing past Mexico in extra time in the first knockout phase.

The side played some of the most attractive football in the competition, highlighted by the now-famous 26-pass goal against Serbia and Montenegro and Maxi Rodriguez's wonder strike against the Mexicans.

The match against Germany was a tight affair, with Argentina taking the lead thanks to a Roberto Ayala header just after half-time.

Pekerman, hoping to protect his side's lead, took off a tiring Juan Roman Riquelme after 72 minutes and replaced him with the more defence-minded Esteban Cambiasso. 

He also replaced Hernan Crespo with lanky striker Julio Cruz, leaving a young Lionel Messi on the bench.

Without Riquelme controlling the centre of the pitch, the Germans took control. They equalised through Miroslav Klose after 80 minutes, then went on to win the penalty shootout after extra time.

German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann studied a piece of paper, kept in his sock, before each Argentine player stepped up to take his penalty, and he guessed the right direction each time.

Sabella certainly won't make the mistake of under-utilising Messi, but he must be cautious of not ceding control of the midfield to the opposition. While the current Argentina squad has no creative midfielder of the calibre of Riquelme, the manager will be careful not to allow Germany to take control of the centre of the pitch.

He is also likely to have his side practice penalties, as Germany certainly will be.

In 2010, Argentina were guided to the quarter-finals by a tactically naive Maradona. Messi was the star of the team by that stage, but playing in a deep-lying role, he was more a provider than a forward. Indeed, he did not score a single goal at the tournament.

The South Americans were destroyed by Germany in the quarter-final. Some questionable selections by Maradona meant the team was on the back foot from the beginning of the match.

Nicolas Otamendi, playing out of position at right-back, was at fault for the first goal, while Javier Mascherano was left to stop the German tide almost on his own in midfield. It was a task that proved impossible even for a defensive midfielder of his talents.

Sabella is a much wiser tactician than Maradona, so he will not be making the same mistakes as the great No. 10.

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He has shown with his astute team selections that he is capable of calling on the right players at the right time.

Though Fernando Gago was Argentina's key passing midfielder during qualification, the Boca Juniors man was dropped mid-tournament due to poor form. His replacement Lucas Biglia has given the midfield more energy and made Mascherano's job easier.

Federico Fernandez, another Sabella favourite, was also cast aside in favour of Martin Demichelis, who has performed with distinction since coming into the side.

Germany may start the final as favourites, but Sabella will do all he can to ensure Argentina are in with a chance of claiming the trophy.

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