As Germany and Argentina prepare to renew old rivalries, Joachim Low admits he is somewhat in awe of Diego Maradona, who he feels won the FIFA World Cup™ on his own in 1986.
The pair go head to head as coaches in Cape Town tonight at the same quarter-final stage where Germany beat Argentina four years ago. Germany also came out on top 16 years earlier in a fractious final in Rome, when Argentina finished the game with nine men.
Maradona was captain on that occasion, just as he had been in Mexico when the two sides also met in the final but with a different outcome as the current Argentina boss almost single-handedly helped his team to a 3-2 triumph.
"Diego Maradona was incredible in those tournaments, extraordinary," said Low. He galvanised the whole football world with his skills. He was simply magic. The culmination of his career was 1986. He virtually decided that World Cup on his own. He left a mark on football like no other player has ever done."
That respect cannot extend to tonight's contest though, especially after Bastian Schweinsteiger fanned the flames of controversy by accusing Argentina of adopting provocative tactics. Although Low claims the South Americans are "great hosts and wonderfully hospitable", he knows there tends to be a menacing undercurrent when things are not going well.
"They go to the limits," said Low. "That is typical of South American teams. They are very aggressive, which means there will be a cut-throat fight. But that doesn't mean we lack in respect for them."
Miroslav Klose is expected to win his 100th cap tomorrow as Germany look to maintain the high tempo they produced against an England side Fabio Capello claimed were tired after another draining domestic campaign.
It seems the Germans do not suffer from the same problem, with Low arguing that the youth of his team is probably the major factor. "I don't know what could have made England so tired," said Low.
"I am not sure how they prepared but we know Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are strong players who play quickly. But when I saw them running around on Sunday, they were not at the speed I am used to. We had prepared very intensively and our season was long, but we have a young team, so they can take such intensive training. Physically, we are in perfect shape."