‘Weakest link’ out to keep Messi quietComment on this story
Santo Andre – The defender branded Germany's 'weakest link' says he is ready for the toughest job in football: keeping Lionel Messi quiet in Sunday's World Cup final.
Benedikt Hoewedes has forced his way into Joachim Loew's starting line-up after Germany arrived at Brazil 2014 without an established left-back.
Now he will run out at Rio de Janeiro's iconic Maracana Stadium to face Messi and Argentina for the world title.
Having kept the Selecao in check in the 7-1 semi-final thrashing of Brazil, Hoewedes' next task will be helping to shackle Messi.
Hoewedes says the Germany defence will pay Argentina's superstar the same close attention Cristiano Ronaldo received in the 4-0 rout of Portugal in the group stages.
“Messi is one of the best players in the world, but just as I said before the Portugal game when we faced Ronaldo, we have to defend as a team,” said the left-back.
“We have to stifle his opportunities to score goal and create dangerous situations.”
Hoewedes plans to help 'die Mannschaft' win the World Cup final to further prove his doubters wrong.
The Schalke 04 centre-back has played the 90 minutes of all six matches in the unfamiliar position and his performances have dispelled any doubters.
His former Schalke coach Felix Magath insisted “a weak point... remains Benedikt Hoewedes as a wing-back,” in his column for the daily Hamburger Abendblatt two weeks ago.
And while Hoewedes admits he is 'no Roberto Carlos', he is happy to provide Germany's attack with dead-ball options and works just as hard as Brazil's former star left-back.
“I am no Roberto Carlos, who was fantastic at putting in free-kicks and crosses, so I know I am not like him,” said Hoewedes.
“But there is only one more match where I need to be good, critics and former coaches can judge me to be the 'weak link', but that leaves me cold.
“I just worry about what the national coach thinks and the feedback he gives me, anything else I just shrug off.
“I just listened to Loew's opinion, it took me a while to come back to elite football after injury last season, I just tried to offer as much as I could at the camps.
“But the fact that I have played the full 90 minutes of all the World Cup matches, which is fantastic.
“I can barely grasp it myself, but what is important now is to take the last step and crown our performances by winning the title.”
Amidst growing expectations in Germany of a fourth World Cup title, Hoewedes said the Brazil mauling will mean nothing if they lose at the Maracana.
“Many people are giving us slaps on the back and we love the compliments, but we can't make the mistake that it's already over, far off it,” said Hoewedes.
“People are saying in Germany that the title is almost in our pocket, but the Argentinians will fight to take the title home.
“We'll have to do all we can to make sure that doesn't happen.
“We also know the time is ripe now, if we don't (win it), the semi-final victory will just be consigned to the archives of history.” – Sapa-AFP