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FOOTBALL

Merkel in the crowd for Argentina clash

Chancellor Angela Merkel, known as a keen football fan, will travel to South Africa to cheer on Germany in their crunch World Cup quarter-final encounter with Argentina.

Merkel in the crowd for Argentina clash
Photo: DPA

“She will be there. I cannot yet give out the details of her trip but she will definitely be at the match, that’s for sure,” a government spokeswoman said.

Saturday’s showdown, which will have millions glued to television screens from Buenos Aires to Berlin, comes wrapped in tournament history.

The Germans saw off the Albiceleste 3-1 in their first meeting at the 1958 event, ahead of a goalless draw in 1966 on their way to a final loss to England.

Franz Beckenbauer played in that match and had graduated to the dugout when the Argentinians beat his German team 20 years later in a Mexico final that saw Diego Maradona inspire his side to a thrilling 3-2 win.

Four years later and the boot was on the other foot as a tough-tackling Argentina lost in the decider of the 1990 tournament to an Andreas Brehme penalty, leaving Maradona fuming after a bad-tempered showdown.

In 2006, Jürgen Klinsmann’s new-look German side slipped through a quarter-final meeting on penalties after over-cautious counterpart Jose Pekerman elected to leave Lionel Messi on the bench.

With Messi now the fulcrum of a side that looks unbeatable for pure fire-power, Maradona stands three games away from emulating Beckenbauer as the only man to have skippered and then coached a country to World Cup glory.

And el pibe de oro (the golden kid) is now bristling with confidence as he looks to show the world that he is more than just a dugout side-show.

“I feel like pulling on the jersey and playing myself,” Maradona admitted after his charges beat Mexico 3-1 in the round of 16. “They said I had no idea about how to coach, but suddenly I am winning matches and I am still the same guy.”

Amid media speculation that he still does not know his best line-up, Maradona says confidently: “We will send out the best team to showcase our talents against Germany. We know Germany are a different team to Mexico. They are stronger, but we will field the right players to beat them.”

Argentine daily Clarin says Argentina must now face German “tanks”, but

in-form striker Carlos Tevez says the South Americans do not fear Germany despite their three titles and the fact they’ve not failed to reach the last eight since 1938.

“I was more afraid of Mexico – they play better football,” he said. “(Germany) won their game and so reached the quarters, but they are not better than Argentina.”

German striker Miroslav Klose, who helped rip England apart just as Maradona did in 1986, will win his 100th cap for the Germans and is looking forward to boosting his international goal tally, which now stands at 50.

And he begs to differ with Tevez.

“Argentina are a class up from England, but we can hurt them with our tactics and we have to believe in ourselves,” says the 32-year-old, whose opening goal in the 4-1 win over England was his 12th at the World Cup – taking him level with no less than Pele.

Maradona’s men endured a shambolic qualifying campaign, not least when they went down 6-1 in Bolivia.

But after getting through more than 100 players in Maradona’s 19-month tenure, the record books at the finals show only two goals in the ”goals against” column – both consolation strikes, for South Korea in the group and then Mexico.

Ten goals scored in four games tell their own story, while the health of the Argentine attack is demonstrated by the fact that not one was netted by Senor Messi.

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FOOTBALL

British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.

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