Argentina’s coach Diego Maradona has responded to a verbal offensive from their World Cup quarter-final opponents Germany by asking: ‘What’s the matter with you, Schweinsteiger, are you nervous?’
Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger began the war of words on Wednesday when he called the Argentines ‘disrespectful’ and said they tried to influence the referee.
German captain Philipp Lahm added fuel to the fire ahead of the hugely-anticipated match in Cape Town on Saturday by saying Argentina did not know how to deal with defeat, saying South Americans were ‘impulsive and temperamental’.
‘We don’t have time to think about Schweinsteiger,’ Maradona told Fox Sports Argentina in an interview.
‘The players are thinking about going onto the pitch, in getting their revenge,’ he said referring to Argentina’s defeat by Germany on penalties in their 2006 quarter-final in Berlin.
After Germany had won the shootout, fighting broke out among some of the players and team officials after Argentines thought the Germans were mocking them.
‘I’m not worried about what they say about the penalties, the kicks. We’re going to go and beat them in their half,’ Maradona said.
In a news conference, Argentina’s reserve midfielder Javier Pastore refused to be drawn on the issue and talked instead about the March 3 friendly when Argentina beat Germany 1-0 in Munich.
‘It was a tight game with few chances in which Argentina were able to cover well the spaces they (Germans) occupied,’ he told Wednesday evening’s news conference at the Argentina camp.
‘I don’t think (Saturday’s match) will be the same because of the circumstances, we are in the World Cup quarter-finals,’ said the 21-year-old, who was on the bench in Munich.
‘Surely it will be a bit more open and there will be more goal chances,’ added the skilful Pastore who came on late to add punch to the attack in Argentina’s last two matches and showed a fine understanding with Lionel Messi.
‘We must keep the ball and wait for the right moment to attack because goal situations will come, playing well or not, because of the quality of players we have.’
For the massed ranks of reporters, the appearance of Pastore - and not the likes of Messi, Carlos Tevez or Juan Sebastian Veron - was something of a disappointment as Argentina have gone numerically through their squad in twos to meet the media.
Pastore wears the number 23 shirt and was at the news conference with third choice goalkeeper Diego Pozo, who wears the number one.
Reporters, particularly from Germany, consoled themselves that on Thursday evening they would be able to pop questions at number two, central defender Martin Demichelis who plays his club football for Bayern Munich and knows the German players.
(Reuters . Pretoria)