By Brian Homewood
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Germany have been given a helping hand by opponents Argentina in beating them at the last two World Cups but they do not expect any more South American gifts in Sunday's final at the Maracana.
Their 2006 quarter-final win came after Argentina took a second-half lead but then replaced playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme with the more defensive Esteban Cambiasso while Lionel Messi was kept on the bench.
Germany seized the initiative, drew level and then won on penalties amid huge criticism of Argentina coach Jose Pekerman.
Four years ago, Germany took advantage of Diego Maradona's coaching naivety and cavalier approach as they tore the Argentineans apart 4-0 again in the last eight.
Germany coach Joachim Loew and his opposite number Alejandro Sabella agree that Argentina have progressed since then.
"Our team is more conservative than four years ago, we are looking to triumph via a different path," Sabella told reporters on Saturday. "The teams are different although most of the players are the same.
"We'll give our all as always, with sacrifice, humility, hard work, being down to earth, giving before receiving, protecting one another, so that Argentina can be a champion again. We will do our best. More than that we cannot do."
Loew said that Argentina were much more than Messi.
"They have other attacking powers like Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria. This team does not live solely on Messi. They have a good compact organization, better than in 2010," he said.
"They can pressure opponents with their first line of attack early on, but they also sometimes fall back, and what is also one of their strengths - through defending and ball possession they bring Messi, Di Maria and Aguero quickly into the game."
"They can be behind the ball with eight or nine and then launch quick attacks."
Germany will be trying to win the World Cup for the fourth time, and also become the first European team to win the title in South America, while Argentina are aiming for a third crown.
The teams have already met in two finals with Argentina winning in 1986 and Germany getting revenge four years later.
Despite being among the most successful sides in their respective continents, neither team has won a trophy recently.
Germany's last success was at Euro 96 in England while Argentina won the 1993 Copa America in Ecuador.
Germany are favorites, having hammered Portugal 4-0 in the group stage and Brazil 7-1 in the last four, while Argentina managed five successive single-goal wins before edging past the Netherlands on penalties in Wednesday's semi-final.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)