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World Cup: Argentina wary of "rested" Germany in final

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella concedes Germany could have an important edge in Sunday's World Cup final as battered Brazil prepare to salvage a morsel of pride in the third place play-off.

SAO PAULO: Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella concedes Germany could have an important edge in Sunday's World Cup final as battered Brazil prepare to salvage a morsel of pride in the third place play-off.

Four-time Player of the Year Lionel Messi's side reached their first final in 24 years on Wednesday when goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved two shoot-out penalties against the Netherlands in Sao Paulo.

The sight of Messi leading La Albiceleste out at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana for Sunday's climax to one of the most thrilling World Cups ever staged has only compounded Brazil's woes after Tuesday's earth-shattering 7-1 thrashing by the Germans.

Sabella believes Germany's extra day of rest could offer the European three-time world champions a crucial advantage come kick-off at 2000 GMT.

"The match is extremely difficult and I repeat the fact they haven't played extra time and we've played two, and played one day after Germany," the Argentina coach said.

"We'll see if it's a minor issue, the fact we played after and the Germany game was decided in the first 45 minutes, so they could ease off in the second half, whereas we had to spend all the effort, and every last drop of sweat to reach the World Cup final."

Monaco keeper Romero blocked shots from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder to secure Argentina the shoot-out 4-2 after the gruelling clash finished goalless after extra-time.

His penalty heroics sets up a repeat of the 1990 final won by Germany and the 1986 final in Mexico City where a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina beat West Germany 3-2.

"Penalties are all about luck, that is the reality. I had confidence and thanks to God it turned out well," Romero said.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal disclosed that inadvertently he had played a part in his team's downfall.

"I taught Romero how to stop penalties, so that hurts," said the Manchester United-bound boss in reference to the pair's time together at Dutch club AZ Alkmaar.

Romero said he went to the Dutch dressing room to thank his former mentor.

"He is someone who helped me a lot when I arrived in the Netherlands, in a completely different country, with different customs," said the Argentina stopper.

-- Dutch duo refuse penalties --

Two Dutch players refused to step up and take the first penalty, according to van Gaal.

"I asked two players ahead of Vlaar to take the first penalty," van Gaal told Dutch news agency ANP.

"They refused. Vlaar in my view was our best player. Unfortunately he didn't score."

Van Gaal took aim at having to now pick up his players for Saturday's third-place play-off in Brasilia.

"I think this match should never be played," he said.

"It's unfair also because we have one less day to recover, so that's not fair play. But the worst thing is that chances are you lose twice in a row.

"And after a tournament in which you've played so marvellously well, you'd go home as a loser just because you've lost the last two matches.

"This has got nothing whatsoever to do with sport."

For Brazil, it offers the first tentative step along the road to recovering their shattered morale after Tuesday's wipe-out in Belo Horizonte ended the hosts' dreams of a sixth title on home soil.

A combative coach Luiz Felipe Scolari insisted on Wednesday: "Nobody will die (as a result of the loss).

"We will look to correct the path of our lives to deal with yesterday´s tsunami

"But life goes on. We shall look ahead to other goals, starting with securing third place on Saturday."

Meanwhile in Seoul the backlash from South Korea's first round knock-out helped force coach Hong Myung-Bo, to resign.

"As of today, I am leaving this post", Hong told a press conference.

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