Argentina's players are summoning inspiration from their heroes of the past as they prepare for their country's most important match for a generation. Sergio Romero, the Monaco keeper who was the hero of the hour in the penalty shoot-out against the Netherlands in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ semi-final, says the team is determined to join those who made history in 1978 and 1986.
It is 24 years since Argentina last made the final, where they were beaten 1-0 by West Germany in tense affair. The shirts will be the same colours again in the Maracana on Sunday: Argentina in navy blue, Germany in white. For Romero, however, the chance to join the icons of the Diego Maradona-inspired team of 1986, of that which triumphed on home soil eight years before, is driving this generation of players on, even if free-scoring Germany are the favourites.
Romero said: "The most important thing is that our team and our country provide the best image in the eyes of the world, that the world will speak well of Argentina. We will remember what the champions of 1978 and 1986 achieved but by we will also try to achieve glory by the fight and heart of this team," he said in Argentina newspaper Clarin.
"Maybe for many people it is not the dream final, because they wanted us to play Brazil, but it will be a fantastic game. They will be very tough opponents, they scored seven goals in the semi-final and they did not have to go to extra time so they have been able to save some energy for the final."
Romero saved two spot-kicks, from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder, to see Argentina through after the match ended 0-0 after extra-time. The keeper said minds have now been re-focused after euphoria following the match, where clips emerged from the dressing room of the squad singing their fans' anthem 'Brasil decime que se siente' - 'Brazil tell me how it feels' - to the tune of Creedence Clearwater Revival's Bad Moon Rising. "The boys enjoyed it, everyone was shouting and singing in the dressing room, but from the next morning we set our minds on what was coming and how hard it will be to face Germany," he said.
Germany have accounted for Argentina in the last two World Cups, winning the semi-finals in 2006 on penalties and trouncing the South Americans 4-0 in 2010. This time around coach Alejandro Sabella face the dilemma of whether to pick Angel di Maria, who is struggling with a torn thigh muscle. Di Maria has been undergoing stem cell injections to try to speed his recovery and his father was quoted by Clarin as saying the Real Madrid winger is desperate to play even if he has not completely recovered.
Miguel di Maria said: "He has been making short sprints, doing everything ... and he's confident he will make it. I also think he will play in the final, even if it is just for a few minutes."