Diego Maradona will demand his players give everything for Argentina in Cape Town this afternoon.
Maradona has confounded the critics who felt his coaching style was too erratic to get the most from Argentina’s multi-talented players by guiding them to the World Cup quarter-finals.
Yet, after recording four straight wins, they face their biggest challenge at the Green Point Stadium when they tackle Germany, the team that defeated them in the 1990 final and again in the quarter-finals four years ago.
That stormy affair is best remembered for an ugly post-match fracas, which has been recalled by Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger this week.
Maradona has already had his say on the allegedly provocative Argentinian tactics.
Now he is happy to concentrate on his own players.
“I’ll tell them to do everything,” said the former World Cup winner.
“They have to leave their lives on the pitch.
“Behind them is a whole country who haven’t enjoyed a victory for a long time.
“They are so excited at the moment. Argentina depend on this team to be able to get up in the morning with a smile on their faces.”
After giving them six out of 10 at the start of the tournament, Maradona now feels Argentina have advanced to an eight.
With Brazil out of the competition, they now head the South American challenge, even though they have not gone beyond the quarter-finals since 1990.
This time though, they can call on an astonishing array of attacking options.
Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez have both been in scoring form, while Maradona can also call on Champions League final hero Diego Milito if that pair struggle.
The brightest star of all is Lionel Messi, who has shrugged off a virus to play.
The brilliant Barcelona playmaker has not scored so far at this World Cup but has provided assists for more than half of Argentina’s 10 goals and Maradona will allow him the same free role he used to occupy for the national team.
“I want to give him freedom to play his game,” said Maradona. “He has no defined position.
“These players, like Messi, if you label them or shackle them, you’ll detract from their freshness and initiative.”