Preview: Germany v Portugal

Germany and Portugal must lift themselves one more time as they contest the third place play-off at the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadium in Stuttgart on Saturday.

German coach Jurgen Klinsmann hoping to end on a high
German coach Jurgen Klinsmann hoping to end on a high

For Germany, also as West Germany, this will be the 4th World Cup Finals third place play-off they have been involved in having finished third in 1934 and 1970, and fourth in 1958.

Portugal will be looking to equal their best ever World Cup finish of third place, as they go into their 2nd third place play-off after having won the corresponding match in 1966, defeating the Soviet Union 2-1.

For both coaches it is perhaps the toughest task in football to prepare a squad of players who have just been beaten in a semi-final, and hence have missed out on a spot in the biggest match in the world, only to have to play-off for a consolation prize when perhaps they’d just prefer to head home for a break.

Reflecting on his side’s late defeat to Italy in their semi-final, German coach Jurgen Klinsmann took a philosophical view and looked to the future with his relatively youthful team.

“Our objective was to make it to the final but we narrowly missed it. However the team can still be proud of their achievements,” Klinsmann said.

“This is a very young team and they showed amazing spirit and character. They made the whole country proud.

“We are optimistic and confident that these players will get better. We should not be afraid of what is coming up in the future.  We have every reason to be optimistic.

“We want to give a good performance on Saturday to give the supporters something to cheer about,” added Klinsmann.

Meanwhile, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Portugal coach, highlighted his team’s lack of firepower up front as the main reason for being in the penultimate match of the World Cup Finals.

“We did everything possible but if you don’t score you don’t win,” said the coach.

“One penalty decided it. It happens. But we’re a very small country and it is difficult to reach the World Cup final.

“I now need to work with the players. We had a dream and we were nearly there but we have another match now – for third place in the World Cup, which should also be an interesting game,” added the man who likes to be called ‘Big Phil’.

Gathering strength

Looking ahead to the match with Germany, it is possible that both coaches may rest players who must be close to exhaustion after long domestic seasons and an extra six matches at the highest level.

However Scolari was already thinking of ways to defeat the host nation in order to finish the tournament off on a good note.

“On Saturday we will have new difficulties and we must work on a strategy to beat Germany. We need to gather strength,” he said.

Portugal hope to give Figo (front, 2nd from left) a fond farewell

Portugal hope to give Figo (front,
2nd from left) a fond farewell

“I’ll be ready. I just need to soak in the defeat first,” added Big Phil.

Retiring Portuguese captain Luis Figo echoed his coach’s sentiments and will be looking to finish on a high note in what will be his last match for his country.

“We are very disappointed. I thought we deserved a better result than this (against France),” said Figo.

“We had more control of the game but we couldn’t put away our chances. It is a pity for us as we so wanted a place in the final.

“I am proud of the team and we want to finish off with a win over Germany,” the midfielder concluded.

As many players who have played in third place play-offs will tell you, it is a better feeling to win the play-off and finish 3rd, than to lose in the final and finish 2nd, as the tournament ends positively.

However, for both of these teams who showed so much promise and instilled so much belief in their supporters it will always be a case of “what might have been”, as they take to the pitch in Stuttgart on Saturday, less than 24 hours before the real battle begins in Berlin.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies

More from News
Most Read