Loew: Germany 'full of respect'

RIO DE JANEIRO - Germany go into Sunday's World Cup final with plenty of respect - but no fear - for Argentina, knowing that they can become the first ever European team to lift the trophy in the Americas.

Despite stating that "it doesn't matter where the final is," Germany coach Joachim Loew is perfectly aware that his team can "make history" in Brazil.

"The South Americans have always dominated in their continent. It would be an extra joy for us to become the first European team to win here," Loew told a news conference Saturday at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

All of the previous seven World Cups held in either North, Central or South America have been won by Latin American teams - Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil.

Spain were the first European team to lift the trophy outside their home continent, at the 2010 tournament in South Africa, while Germany lost the 1986 decider in Mexico 3-2 to Argentina.

Loew and vice captain Bastian Schweinsteiger said that while the team has not been carried away by its 7-1 semi-final hammering of hosts Brazil, it is nevertheless upbeat about the prospects of winning a fourth title against Lionel Messi's Argentina.

"The Brazil match is no reference. Anyone who thinks that has not studied Argentina. Both teams are at the same level. We have the right level of confidence. We have respect but are convinced that we can win if we manage to impose our game," Loew said.

Schweinsteiger said: "We must stay calm and be patient. For me, Argentina are a very good team who deserve to be in the final. It will definitely not be easy, but if we can bring our quality onto the pitch, and with our cleverness, we can beat such a world class team."

Both singled out superstar Messi as the man who can make the difference, but insisted that the rest of the Albiceleste team is also top class.

Schweinsteiger named the skillful forward Angel di Maria and Javier Mascherano, singling out the midfielder's decisive tackle against the Netherlands' Arjen Robben en route to Argentina's penalty shoot-out win in the semis.

"That tackle shows his dedication for his county," Schweinsteiger said.

Loew praised Argentina's tactical abilities and their strong defence - the team has not conceded a single goal in three knock-out games - and expects a big fight in the iconic Rio stadium.

"They can press early and put a team under pressure, but they can also sit back. They have defensive strength, are stable with eight or nine defenders and then counter-attack. A lot of things can happen and we must be ready for them," Loew said.

The coach said that Germany is ready for every eventuality, including a possible penalty shootout.

Loew has all of his players on board for a game that could crown the career of a golden generation of stars that includes Schweinsteiger, captain Philipp Lahm and winger Lukas Podolski. Those three were all present in Germany's last two quarter-final clashes against Argentina - a penalty shoout-out win in 2006 and 4-0 triumph in 2010.

"We have many players from 2010, but you feel everyone has gained in experience, not only in the national team but also at a high level in the clubs. You feel a change," Schweinsteiger said.

"We have improved in footballing terms in the last 10 years and have now added some German values, which is quite a good mixture."

Despite the optimism, failure on Sunday would not be the end of the world for a German squad with an abundance of young talent, from Mario Goetze and Andre Schuerrle, both present in Brazil, to those who have been left at home due to injury - from Marco Reus to Ilkay Guendogan.

"We have matured as a team over the last months and tournaments. We have shown what we are capable of over the years. Nothing will be in ruins if we lose. German football has a future, I see no problems," Loew said.

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