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Maracana basks in sunshine before World Cup showdown

The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro was basking in glorious sunshine after two days of heavy rain as the iconic Maracana stadium was ready to host the soccer World Cup final between Germany and Argentina on Sunday.

RIO DE JANEIRO: The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro was basking in glorious sunshine after two days of heavy rain as the iconic Maracana stadium was ready to host the soccer World Cup final between Germany and Argentina on Sunday.

With the Germans looking to become the first European nation to win the title on South American soil and the Argentines desperate to lift a third World Cup trophy and their first since 1986, large crowds gathered around the stadium from the early morning in a cascade of colours.

From traditional Bavarian Lederhosen and East Germany vintage tops of the 1970s to giant blue and white Argentine flags and those of every South American nation, fans were getting ready for the biggest single event in world sports.

"This is our time. This is our continent and our victory tonight here in Brazil," said Juan Alvarez, 24, who drove three days from the Argentine capital Buenos Aires with a group of friend, as he showed his ticket for the game.

"Winning it here in Brazil would make it even better," he said.

Police, military and other security personnel numbering tens of thousands mingled with arriving fans as the host nation looked to safely round off a tournament which has been largely successful despite initial fears regarding security, transport and construction.

Authorities expected a total of 100,000 Argentines to flood into the city of their bitter footballing rivals with Germany fans easily outnumbered.

More Argentine planes were landing in the morning at Rio's international airport carrying neighbouring fans into the city for the showcase final and a repeat of the 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals.

Despite a disappointing fourth-place finish, Brazil fans, living around the stadium in Rio's Maracana neighbourhood that also hosted the 1950 World Cup decider in which the hosts lost to Uruguay, had unfurled their green, yellow and blue flags on the balconies.

Chanting "Brazil, Brazil" to the Argentines below, these Rio citizens were eager to add a touch of South American rivalry even if their team was left out of the biggest party of the tournament, with the World Cup drawing to a close after an action-packed month. 

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