The problem for West Germany, obviously, is how to stop Diego Maradona. The solution for West Germany, obviously, is not to be found by studying films of Argentina's previous World Cup matches.

South Korea, Italy, Bulgaria and Uruguay marked Maradona with one defender, and he had one goal and four assists. England and Belgium let him maneuver in open space, and he had four goals.

West German trainer Bernie Vogts, who played for his national team in 1970-78, said: "We should ask FIFA for permission to field a 12th man, and especially for Maradona."

West Germany will meet Argentina Sunday at Azteca Stadium in the 13th World Cup final, and unless Coach Franz Beckenbauer finds a cure for the uncommon goal as practiced by Maradona, the Argentines will be taking home their second world title in eight years.

Maradona, for one, is a bit concerned about the West German welcome that awaits him. "I would have preferred not to play West Germany," he said. "They are a great team and they have a solid defense. They have a physical presence, and even though they are not fast, they close the gaps very effectively."

Beckenbauer undoubtedly will choose to mark Maradona, perhaps even rotating the defenders who will escort the 5-foot-5 Argentine captain up and down the field. Beckenbauer has not said publicly who will shadow Maradona, but it undoubtedly will be Lothar Matthaeus, Wolfgang Rolff or Hans-Peter Briegel.

Briegel, a 6-foot-2 1/2 bruiser, is nicknamed "the Steamroller." His idea of finesse is putting one foot in front of the other when running. He tends to knock things down without bothering to pick them back up.

Maradona is familiar with Briegel's field manners. During the 1984-85 Italian League seasons, Briegel (then with Verona) marked Maradona (with Napoli).

"Sometimes he won, sometimes I did, but I think that now it could go well because I'm faster," Maradona said.

He also is wiser. At the 1982 World Cup in Spain, he was battered by close, rough marking, and he reacted to the abuse and it affected his play. This year, he has learned to take the punishment quietly and walk away from potential problems.

Matthaeus probably will be Beckenbauer's first choice to mark Maradona.

"I am conscious of the difficulty of my mission," Matthaeus said. "When you mark him, it must be very, very tight and, if you ignore him for only a second, you can lose him and he might score. Just one goal can be fatal to us.

"Maradona is a master at protecting the ball. It is nearly impossible to take it away from him without fouling. I will try to prevent him from even receiving the ball; in a word, to be beside him for 90 straight minutes if necessary."

Beckenbauer made it clear that Maradona will not be free to maneuver as he did against England and Belgium. "It would be suicide for us to allow him to get the ball where he wants and to let him accelerate without being challenged," the West German coach said. "We will make him work endlessly to move the ball, and we will be conscious of his teammates."

Maradona's teammates have not scored in their last two matches. They frequently have failed to convert splendid scoring chances created by Maradona. Striker Jorge Valdano, who scored three goals in Argentina's first two matches, has been shut out since.

"I think Maradona is the best player in the world," Valdano said, "but I can say that, if he is marked closely by West Germany, Argentina will not be at a loss. I know I can score and, even though I have had a rough time in the last four matches, that will not last forever."

West Germany, which lost to Italy, 3-1, in the 1982 Cup final, has not allowed a goal in its last three matches. Argentina, whose fullbacks are not as physically imposing as West Germany's, has only allowed three goals in six Cup matches.

"One goal could be enough," Valdano said. "I find it difficult to believe that West Germany would score two goals against us, and I believe we are capable of breaking through one or two times against them."

Besides marking Maradona, Beckenbauer has other decisions to make. Apparently he will return Thomas Berthold to the starting lineup. Berthold, a fullback who missed the semifinal against France because of two cautioning yellow cards, would displace Andreas Brehme on defense. Brehme would shift to midfield, with Rolff sitting out.

Beckenbauer also must decide how much to play captain Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who has been slowed here by a right-knee injury. Rummenigge started against France but was replaced in the 66th minute. He desperately wants to play a larger role in determining the outcome.

"Unfortunately, I still have problems over 90 minutes," he said. "After an hour, I feel my strength going. I have trained like a lunatic . . . and done everything humanly possible to get fit.

"I have a better feeling about things than in 1982. Then we arrived in the finals drained . . . This will be my last World Cup game. The World Cup is the only title missing from my collection. It would be super if I could do it in the last game of my career.

"But it would be a blow to fail a second time."