Germany defender Benedikt Howedes has said it will take a team effort to keep Lionel Messi quiet in Sunday's World Cup final.
Schalke skipper Howedes, normally a centre-back but used at left-back by Joachim Low as he played every minute of the tournament, had been seen by some analysts as a "weak link" before the event began.
And as he prepared to help deal with the threat of Argentina talisman, he took the chance to hit back at those remarks after a string of impressive performances that have seen him linked with Manchester City.
"Somebody needs to explain that 'weak link' thing to me," he said. "I might not be a Roberto Carlos, but I have accomplished my defensive tasks."
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But he said the toughest of those tasks remained in the final, explaining: "Messi is an extraordinary player. But we have to beat Argentina as a collective, and stop the passes to him.
"We must implement our tactical measures -- that's our only chance to beat them. We are fully focused, but we should not be too tense. We must find the right mix. We want to bring that cup back home with us."
Howedes missed much of the second half of the Bundesliga season, but won his race to be fully fir by the time Germany began their World Cup preparations.
"I've invested a lot following my injury to be in good shape," he said. "That it worked out is just unbelievable, and now I want to contribute my bit to win the title."