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Two former Liverpool midfielders could be celebrating the greatest achievement of their entire career on Sunday evening, when they will represent Argentina in the World Cup final in Brazil.
Javier Mascherano and Maxi Rodriguez have contributed to La Albiceleste's hard-fought journey to a showpiece meeting against Germany at the Maracana - a repeat of the 1986 and 1990 editions.
Tough-tackling Mascherano produced a man of the match performance in their semi-final triumph over the Netherlands, thwarting the Dutch with his pressing, precision tackling and force of will.
It was a kick from Maxi, meanwhile, that booked Argentina's spot in the final; the wily attacker blasted home the penalty which confirmed a shoot-out victory for Alejandro Sabella's charges.
"I knew that I'd be called upon again at some point and that I might make an important contribution," Rodriguez, 17 times a scorer in 73 matches for Liverpool, told FIFA.
"But what's important is what's at stake on Sunday. It's what we had our sights set on before we left Buenos Aires and now we have it within our grasp. Now we all have to make one final effort.
"The group is well drilled; everyone knows their role. We're ready for the challenge that's waiting for us on Sunday. There is nothing more important to us than making history in this shirt.
"We've all dreamed of being world champions and now we are within striking distance of doing it. We're going to fight to make it happen."
In the opposite corner on Sunday will be the might of Germany, who stunned the football world by dismantling and destroying hosts Brazil with a 7-1 semi-final humiliation earlier this week.
Argentina's pathway to the ultimate World Cup fixture has been rather more methodical, with defensive solidity - no goals conceded in the knockout stages - proving key.
Rodriguez said: "They're a compact unit because the spine of the team is made up of players who have known each other for a long time. But that scoreline didn't scare me.
"It's the sort of result that happens once every 100 matches. We have to be mindful of their threat, sure, but without losing sight of our game and how we can get at them."
, javier mascherano
, maxi rodriguez
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