11 July 2014 12:56
Assistant coach Hansi Flick is tight-lipped on Germany’s plans to stop Lionel Messi in Sunday’s FIFA World Cup final.
The Argentina captain, although never quite at his sparkling best throughout the tournament, has been influential in helping his side reach their first World Cup final in 24 years.
After four goals in the three group games, Messi assisted the winning strikes in both the last-16 clash with Switzerland and the quarter-final tie against Belgium.
The Barcelona man was impressively shackled by the Netherlands’ defence during 120 minutes of goalless action in the semi-final on Wednesday, but stepped up to tuck away his side’s first penalty in the 4-2 shoot-out success.
Ahead of Sunday’s final at the Maracana, it remains to be seen whether Messi will produce a performance that would undoubtedly place him among the likes of Diego Maradona and Pele in having inspired his nation to glory on football’s grandest stage.
And although Flick revealed Germany will be paying special attention to the diminutive number 10, he refused to be drawn on what their ploy would entail.
“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,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to meeting a compact, organised team and in Messi, they have one of the outstanding players of the tournament.
“We know plenty about Argentina, Germany has to accept the role of favourites, but the final will write its own script.”