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World waits for Sunday’s battle royal
July 11, 2014
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RIO DE JANEIRO: The best player in the world goes up against the ultimate team machine, on the world’s biggest stage. Estádio Maracanã is readying for Sunday’s battle royal as South American favourites Argentina clashes with European giants Germany, bringing down curtains on one of the most thrilling World Cups ever staged. 

Both their last World Cup triumphs came against each other, with Germany crowned champions after defeating the Argentines in 1990, while the 1986 final being the last time the South Americans won the trophy after edging West Germany in Mexico. Four-time Player of the Year Lionel Messi’s side reached their first final in 24 years on Wednesday when goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved two shoot-out penalties against the Netherlands in Sao Paulo.

“Penalties are all about luck, that is the reality. I had confidence and thanks to God it turned out well,” Romero said.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal disclosed that inadvertently he had played a part in his team’s downfall.

“I taught Romero how to stop penalties, so that hurts,” said the Manchester United-bound boss in reference to the pair’s time together at Dutch club AZ Alkmaar.

Romero said he went to the Dutch dressing room to thank his former mentor.

Hosts Brazil, heavily battered at the hands of Germans, meanwhile take on European charmers Netherlands in the third place play-off on Saturday. Brazil’s injured striker Neymar will attend the match.

“Neymar will come here (to Brazil’s World Cup base), he’s going to accompany the team to Saturday’s match,” confirmed Brazil football federation spokesman Rodrigo Paiva to


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