Lionel Messi will "define" Argentina's FIFA World Cup Final against Germany, national legend Diego Maradona expects.
Messi has captained Argentina to the final, scoring four goals and turning in a number of match-winning performances early in the tournament.
Though his output has been stifled in the knockout rounds, a defensive solidity established by Alejandro Sabella has helped Argentina reach a first final since 1990 - when they also faced the Germans.
Furthering the rivalry between the nations, Germany have eliminated Argentina from the last two World Cups, including a 4-0 hammering at the quarter-final stage four years ago when an attack-minded Maradona took charge.
With the South Americans eyeing a first global triumph since Maradona's sparkling display at Mexico '86, the former captain believes 2014's skipper will be the one to lead from the front at the Maracana on Sunday.
Speaking on television show De Zurda , he claimed: "If on Sunday Messi has to overcome Maradona to lift the cup, I'll give him the red carpet.
"He will be the player who will define the game.
"The only fear I have is that he is tired, but in the end you cannot be tired. I think he will understand. If you miss a shot on Sunday, you only resemble the best in the world."
Germany head into the final on the back of their monumental 7-1 thrashing of Brazil in the final four.
Though Germany enter the game as slight favourites after that result, Maradona is confident that previous weaknesses displayed in the tournament can be exploited by Sabella's side as they look to win the trophy for all of South America.
He explained: "Germany is not impossible. Argentina can do it. Against Algeria, we saw one Germany, and against Brazil [we saw] another.
"We all expected it to be Brazil in the final. Argentina are going in strengthened. Once again Argentine football is back at the top. The jersey had lost prestige. Today it got it back.
"The Argentines need to win this final. It could not be an all European final in South America, so we represent our continent. We could not allow it."
Statement: Optus' FIFA World Cup™ coverage
Like all football fans in Australia, FFA has been very disappointed by the technical problems which have so affected the FIFA World Cup coverage by Optus. Optus’ broadcasting agreement is with FIFA not FFA, but FFA is receiving regular updates from both Optus and SBS to see wh
Opponent Watch: Denmark midfielder ruled out of FIFA World Cup™
France have played out a difficult training game against an Under-19 club opponent while Denmark have seen one of their key midfielders ruled out of the tournament with an injury. Plus the latest on Peru in this edition of Opponent Watch. DAY 29 WRAP: France game dissected
Revealed: What Jedinak said to Socceroos teammates after loss
Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak has explained what he said to teammates in a huddle following the narrow 2-1 loss to France at the FIFA World Cup™. Jedinak, who scored Australia’s goal from the penalty spot, was picked in midfield alongside Aaron Mooy and the duo produced a ste
The star a nation is built around: Denmark's key men
Denmark is the next name on the Socceroos’ list as they head to Samara for the second Group C fixture on Thursday night (AEST) – you can catch it at 10pm AEST on SBS and Optus Sport. Ranked 12th in the world, Denmark finished second in their qualifying group behind Poland and