PRETORIA, July 2 – Argentina defender Martin Demichelis brushed off slurs from his Bayern Munich team-mate Bastian Schweinsteiger on Thursday, claiming they proved that the Germans were worried about his team.Schweinsteiger had cranked up the temperature ahead of the pair’s plum quarter-final tie in Cape Town on Saturday by accusing the Argentines of being disrespectful.
But Demichelis claimed the German criticisms only served to highlight their own concerns ahead of the match, given that the South Americans beat them 1-0 in March in a friendly in Germany.
"All the criticisms they make are a sign of respect and nerves. Since we beat them in March, they respect us," he said.
The day before, Schweinsteiger had attacked the Argentines’ behaviour.
"I find that the behaviour of the Argentinians on the pitch, how they gesticulate and how they try to influence the referee, is disrespectful," he said.
"Most importantly, we will not be intimidated or respond to their provocations. I hope the referee will be watching the game closely."
But Demichelis, who is a friend and team-mate of Schweinsteiger’s, said he would not be drawn into a war of words.
"I don’t want to draw any attention to that, I could speak about it for one hour but the most improtant thing is for us to give our answer on the pitch," he said.
Demichelis will be under the spotlight come Saturday as he has come under fire in his own country’s press since his error gifted South Korea a goal in the group stages.
He was also partly at fault for one of Inter Milan’s goals in the Champions League final in May.
But Demichelis remained defiant, claiming he has been better than some of the world’s best defenders, such as England’s John Terry.
"I’m strong but I’m not a masochist so I don’t read every criticism about me," he said.
"I know that when the team is playing well there are always people who look for a weakness, for example me, but I know I can overcome this bad moment, as I showed when I scored against Greece.
"Seeing the way Terry played against Germany, if I was Terry I wouldn’t be able to go back to my country."
Although Argentina beat Germany in a friendly, the Germans have dismissed the significance of that result, but Demichelis believes it’s a benchmark.
"But for three changes, the same German team that we played in March will play Saturday and these are the same players who beat England," he said.
However, he claimed that his team must be aware of the aerial threat the Germans pose.
"They play the ball in the air, they have very big players and they have been improving since the World Cup began, they’re a strong team," he added.
"The key for us will be possession and we’ve got the players to do this.
"Germany will be sitting back and waiting for us to come at them and they will try to hit us quickly on the counter-attack.
"They have fast players such as (Thomas) Mueller, (Miroslav) Klose, (Lukas) Podolski and (Mesut) Ozil, who seems to be having a great moment in this World Cup.
"Without (Michael) Ballack they cover the pitch better. Schweinsteiger is the team’s engine.
"I’ve told (Argentina coach Diego) Maradona everything I know about their players."