BERLIN (AP) — Germany and Argentina clash again 52 days after contesting the World Cup final, albeit with less at stake when the sides meet for a friendly in Duesseldorf.
It may seem incongruous to celebrate winning the World Cup with the defeated side in attendance, but Wednesday's game was organized last March, well before Mario Goetze scored in injury time on July 13 to give Germany its fourth title with a 1-0 win.
Some 40,000 fans turned up to celebrate Joachim Loew's side during Monday's open training session and Argentina will be keen to dampen their mood, particularly after German players poked fun at the beaten finalists on their return from Brazil with their "Gaucho dance" in Berlin.
Other friendlies are also taking place Wednesday and Thursday, with fewer scores to settle, but with important preparations to be made as qualification for the 2016 European Championships begins at the weekend. Here are some of the main games to look out for:
Both sides are beginning new eras as they meet for the second time in two months. Argentina have a new coach, Gerardo Martino, appointed to continue the work of predecessor Alejandro Sabella, who stepped down following the World Cup final after almost three years in charge.
Germany has had to contend with several high-profile retirements. Record scorer Miroslav Klose, experienced defender Per Mertesacker and captain Philipp Lahm all hung up their boots after success in Brazil, the latter despite being 30 years old and arguably at his peak. Loew looks set to name a new captain on Tuesday.
Argentina star Lionel Messi will miss the match with a right leg injury. Defender Ezequiel Garay, midfielder Maxi Rodriguez and forward Rodrigo Palacio are also ruled out.
Apart from the retirees, who will all be honored before kickoff, Germany will be without midfielder Mesut Ozil due to an ankle injury, while Bastian Schweinsteiger and Shkodran Mustafi are also out.
While host France is building toward Euro 2016 with the nucleus of its World Cup squad intact, Spain needs a makeover after the retirement of several key players following its humiliating experience in Brazil.
Vicente del Bosque is still coach, despite Spain's exit at the group stage, but midfielders Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso have both retired, as has all-time leading scorer David Villa.
Thursday's match at Stade de France provides the opportunity to test players like Atletico Madrid midfielder Raul Garcia and Valencia striker Pablo Alcacer against what will likely be a competitive France side.
New Chelsea signing Loic Remy has a chance to stake his claim in attack with Olivier Giroud injured, while Lyon's Alexandre Lacazette hopes coach Didier Deschamps gives him his chance after missing out on the World Cup. Injured center half Laurent Koscielny has been replaced by Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu.
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