Such is each nation’s might that they have even gone head-to-head in the World Cup final on three occasions – Argentina winning in 1986 before Germany gained revenge in 1990 and 2014.
Yet the days of Diego Maradona, Lothar Matthaus and Philipp Lahm are now a distant memory. In just five years since their last World Cup final meeting, Germany suffered their ultimate World Cup humiliation in Russia last summer and continue to limp on amid poor results and political in-fighting. Argentina are stuck in perpetual chaos, no closer to solving their Lionel Messi condundrum and with the quality in their squad sinking fast.
Ahead of their friendly meeting, ALEC FENN examines what has gone wrong with both nations, and what the future holds.
Joachim Low has persisted with Manuel Neuer despite the brilliance of Marc-Andre ter Stegen
Lionel Messi’s influence on Argentina is a continued topic of debate in his homeland
It’s become trendy in football parlance to describe the flux and change of great football teams as cycles. The theory is that after several years of success, silverware is replaced with staleness and so a period of rebuilding ensues, during which results suffer as new signings adapt and young players develop and strive to reach the level of their predecessors.
In international football, it’s a process that occurs between major tournaments, with the four-year gap between World Cups allowing for the maturity of a new breed of players or the gradual integration of a new style of football. For Germany, their disastrous group stage exit at the 2018 World Cup, four years on from winning the tournament in Brazil, has signalled the start of a new cycle as Die Mannschaft bid to repeat the magical memories of the Maracana.
Germany boss Low also appears unsure how to use the mercurial Kai Havertz (left)
Yet their desire for change has been compromised by the decision to keep faith with Joachim Low, who has now been at the helm for 13 years. To enact real change, Low must not only reinvent his team but also himself. He has at least made a bold attempt to do the former after freezing out three of his longest serving players, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller, in a bid to take a long-term approach and blood players who will peak when the next World Cup comes around in 2022.
Mesut Ozil’s self-imposed international retirement, following his accusations of institutionalised racism in Germany, has also changed the face of the team. But Ilkay Gundogan, who was also caught up in the furore involving their meeting with controversial Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, remains in the set-up despite the national crisis it provoked. He is, however, injured for this game.
The Germans are without nearly a dozen players for the game, including Toni…