Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has opened a World Cup war of words ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final with Argentina by branding Diego Maradona’s side ‘disrespectful’.
“I find that the behaviour of the Argentinians on the pitch, how they gesticulate and how they try to influence the referee, is disrespectful”, said the Bayern Munich midfielder on Wednesday.
Schweinsteiger was in the Germany team which beat Argentina 4-2 on penalties at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium in the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup when the hosts went on to finish third at the World Cup.
But he clearly remembers the ugly scenes immediately after the shoot-out with players and officials from both sides clashing on the pitch.
The Argentinians reacted angrily after German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann saved Esteban Cambiasso’s spot-kick to confirm victory.
“We all still remember sitting watching the penalties,” said Germany’s vice-captain Schweinsteiger who came off in the second-half of that match.
“What I remember most is what happened after the game, this brawl which had been triggered by the Argentinians.”
After their impressive 4-1 win over England in the Round of 16, Schweinsteiger says Germany can win Saturday’s quarter-final in Cape Town, but most not be intimidated by the Argentinians.
“We have the key to this match, if we play like we did against England, we can win,” said Schweinsteiger.
“Most importantly, we will not be intimidated or respond to their provocations. I hope the referee will be watching the game closely.
“We have seen during the (Round of 16) match between Argentina and Mexico, what can happen.
“You could see that the Argentinian fans had gathered together in the stadium without having the proper ticket, it shows their character and mentality.
“We are not the kind of players who will deliberately be attempting to injure a player.
“We will be calm and focused during this game, but I especially hope that there will be little provocation on their part because, from our side, I can assure that there will be none.”
The 25-year-old says he has matured since the last World Cup and is relishing playing in the midfield holding role vacated by injured captain Michael Ballack.
“I’m more experienced, more professional and more mature, if you compare how I am now to what I was doing in 2006,” he said.
“I used to go to practice and then I just came home.
“Now (at Bayern Munich under coach) Louis van Gaal, it is very different, we are very careful about helping our bodies to recover.
“Van Gaal has put me in the middle of the midfield, because he saw that this is where I can give my best.
“I always said it was my best position, but I have not always been able to claim this role.
“There were always more experienced players ahead of me at Bayern, with guys like Michael Ballack, Owen Hargreaves, Nico Kovac and Jens Jeremies, so I found myself on the wings, but I always knew that my best position was the middle.”