PRETORIA, June 29 – Bayern Munich's Argentinian central defender Martin Demichelis will set friendships aside on Saturday when he faces Germany in the World Cup quarter-finals as he tries to make the most of a chance he thought had passed him by.The 29-year-old has shown great determination in making himself an automatic first choice pick under Diego Maradona as he had considered giving up the sport altogether when then Argentina coach Jose Pekerman left him out of the World Cup finals squad in 2006.
"At the time, I felt like I had ‘died’, I no longer had the will to play football," said Demichelis, who has been capped 29 times and scored two goals including one here against Greece.
Demichelis may have made Munich his second home since 2003 – his superb season last term pushing him to the front of the queue of Argentine central defenders – but he will put club affinities aside when he faces Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Mueller and Miroslav Klose.
He had already made his intentions clear even before the friendly between the two sides in Munich back in March which Argentina won 1-0.
"I am sorry for them (his Bayern Munich team-mates), but I want to win and if I have to tackle them, I will do so," said the defender fondly known as ‘Micho’.
However, Demichelis for all his wholehearted efforts and do or die defence – qualities that endeared him to Bayern’s authoritarian coach Louis van Gaal – is being pinpointed as a potential weakness in an Argentine back four that is yet to come under close examination.
Indeed it was he who was at fault for the goal in the group match against South Korea that saw the Argentines go from cruising at 2-0 to going in at half-time a little bit uneasy at 2-1, though they went on to win 4-1 eventually.
Mueller certainly has seen enough fragility in the Argentinian defence to encourage him that he could add to his tally of three goals.
"Argentina, is a superb team offensively, but we also saw against Mexico (a 3-1 Last 16 victory) that they have defensive worries," said the 20-year-old.
Demichelis is also keen to attract interest from other clubs as his enthusiasm for the bitter Bavarian winters has cooled and he yearns to see more of his Argentina-based son Martin Bastian.
"I am used to Germany, but I definitely come from another country and climate," he says somewhat forlornly.
Further muddying the waters for Demichelis is that while Martin Bastian’s mother and his companion, former top model Evangelina Anderson, will come and watch him play for the first time on Saturday they are according to Argentinian press reports having problems in their relationship to the point that they might break up.
So while his World Cup heartbreak could have been fixed, he may face another of a more human nature where perhaps he will need different battling qualities.