Argentina defender Zabaleta craves World Cup glory in the Maracana
JUL 12, 2014 5:04a ET
Argentina defender Pablo Zabaleta admits it would be especially sweet to win the World Cup on enemy soil.
A fierce rivalry between the Albiceleste and hosts Brazil dates back more than a century, with enduring comparisons between Diego Maradona and Pele a more recent focus for bickering fans.
Brazil, humiliated 7-1 by Germany on Tuesday, remain the only World Cup winners not to have triumphed on home soil but victory for Alejandro Sabella's side in the iconic Maracana would serve as further insult.
Around 100,000 fans are expected to descend on Rio de Janiero for Sunday's showdown and Zabaleta admitted his team-mates are desperate to deliver a first World Cup triumph since 1986.
"It's special for us to play in this country," the Manchester City defender said. "Especially because Brazilian fans have been against Argentina for this World Cup.
"Sometimes, if you have all the people against you, you feel even stronger. I think that we showed that against Holland and we feel very proud to have made the final."
Germany are favorites for the final clash after inflicting the heaviest semi-final defeat in World Cup history but Zabaleta insists Joachim Low's side holds no fear for his team-mates.
"Germany are probably of the best teams in this World Cup," he said. "But as we say in Argentina 'we don't play the final, we win the final'.
"This is something that we are thinking about and hopefully we can play a great game and try to win it."
Lionel Messi will skipper Argentina, hoping to emulate Maradona's feat in Mexico, and Zabaleta believes it would be fitting for the Barcelona star to cement his standing among the greats.
"He is our main player, he is the captain of this team, he is the leader of this group of players," Zabaleta added.
"We can imagine how special it would be for Messi to lift the World Cup."