Can Lionel Messi, left, display his skills on football’s biggest stage? Can Germany’s Toni Kroos, right, light up the final like he did with his two goals in the semi-final? *AFP photos
Can Lionel Messi, left, display his skills on football’s biggest stage? Can Germany’s Toni Kroos, right, light up the final like he did with his two goals in the semi-final? *AFP photos
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Alejandro Sabella believes Germany’s freshness will hand them a significant advantage in Sunday’s World Cup final.

The South Americans saw off Holland in a penalty shootout to reach the showpiece for the first time in 24 years.

They will meet Joachim Low’s Germany side, who provided the story of the tournament so far with the mind-blowing 7-1 win over hosts Brazil in the other semi-final a day earlier.

Sabella, whose side endured their second period of extra-time of the finals, admitted some of his players were “sore, beaten, tired as a result of a war”.

He told the Guardian: “Germany are always a very difficult hurdle to overcome, and even more so when they’ve had the extra day and, indeed, could rein themselves in for the second half last night. We’ve had to expend every drop of energy just to play in the World Cup final. So that is an advantage for them. In 1998 Argentina beat England in extra-time and lost against Holland in the heat of Marseille in the next match, and it harmed us. 

“We have to recover and work to make sure we are ready. I have huge admiration for Germany. They have always shown physical might, tactical powers, mental force and have always had the players with a certain South American touch. 

“They know what team-work is. They have been planning for a long time. They know about organization. The match is extremely difficult, and they haven’t played extra-time when we’ve played two periods in this tournament. But all I can say is I’m thrilled.

“We’ve made it into the final and crossed the Rubicon. 

“We’ll do everything possible to win this title now, and I’m thrilled with my players.”

In the Germany camp, centre-half Mats Hummels is refusing to take anything for granted. 

“Winning the semi doesn’t give us anything.

“The win over Brazil does not have any impact on the final on Sunday because it will be a totally different game. 

“It was nice how it went in Belo Horizonte, but it will be no problem keeping our feet on the ground.

“We know how hard it will be in the final. It will be a hard fight and the only chance we have of winning is if we know and accept that from the start. 

“In the dressing room at half-time and after the match we just made it clear that we had to stay focused and not get carried away with this. We said we had to stay serious and concentrate.

“We know we are one of the best teams in the world but you always need a bit of luck, and on Tuesday we had that luck. 

“But if we now lose the final, this semi-final will not be worth anything.”