Argentina defender Martin Demichelis has inflamed the war of words ahead of tomorrow’s World Cup quarter-final with Germany by declaring: “Show us some respect.”
Ill-feeling between the sides who will meet in Cape Town for a place in the last four and a clash with either Spain or Paraguay was initially triggered by Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The growing resentment continued on both sides yesterday, putting Demichelis in a tricky position as a key member of both the Argentina defence and Bayern Munich.
But he does feel the Germans are going too far.
“I have been in Germany for seven years,” said Demichelis.
“They know me and they know I won’t change.
“But it does seem they Germany don’t have a lot of respect for us.
“I am not paying much attention to it, but maybe they should show us some respect.”
Schweinsteiger claimed Argentina try to provoke their opponents and whinge at referees.
The South Americans are clearly unhappy, although neither German general manager Oliver Bierhoff, nor skipper Phillip Lahm saw any need to apologise.
“I played with a lot of people from Argentina,” said Bierhoff.
“They are hospitable, friendly people.
“But that is not necessarily the case on a football pitch, where they can be a passionate, aggressive, provocative side.
“I didn’t think four years ago was particularly physical or nasty, but it is always tragic to lose on penalties like that.
“What we have to do on Saturday is keep a level head and make sure our nerves are in check.”
It is fascinating to see how Germany address such matters. In seeming to play down a situation, they, quite knowingly, find a way of inflaming it.
“We want to focus on the 90 minutes play,” said Lahm.
“We know South Americans are a temperamental lot. On Saturday we will see how they deal with another defeat.”
Yet Argentina coach Diego Maradona merely played up to the stereotype with his own reaction, staring directly into a camera during an interview with Fox Sports before questioning, in a mock German accent: “What’s the matter Schweinsteiger? Are you nervoussh?”
The exaggerated goading is totally in keeping with Maradona’s unorthodox approach to management, which has already seen him get into spats with Pele and Michel Platini during the tournament.
However, he has a more sensitive side too, judging by his handling of Carlos Tevez, who is now a key member of the Argentina side after responding to some gentle cajoling from his former World Cup-winning coach on a visit to Manchester, when he was still at United and hardly getting a game.
“When you watch him play, it seems like Carlos is on a set of batteries that just keep going and going,” said Maradona.
“When I sent to see him in Manchester he was a substitute all the time.
“I told him if he wanted to remain on the same level as all our other strikers things had to get better for him. And that was the day it was going to start.”