Berlin: Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann raised the pressure a notch on his players on Friday, saying it would be a disaster for a great football nation like his to be knocked out of their own tournament before the semi-final.
Confident his rapidly improving team would defeat Sweden in Saturday’s first round of 16 match, Klinsmann said his team was hungry for a fourth straight World Cup win and not even the younger players were showing any signs of nervousness.
“Our expectations as a football nation don’t stop here, in the round-of-16 or at the quarter final stage,” Klinsmann told a news conference before his team departed to Munich.
“There’s simply no way for that, especially at a World Cup in your home country. I believe the team is motivated to the max. They know what they’re capable of doing. After that, we’ve got the next stage. I feel great. The mood is fantastic.”
Klinsmann said Germany would beat Sweden. “We have a lot of respect for Sweden, they’ve got some great players in their ranks,” he said. “But we think we’ll be able to beat them.”
Germany, three time winners and finalists on a further four occasions, have cruised into the second round with wins over Costa Rica, Poland and Ecuador.
Klinsmann has heard his name chanted at the stadiums, while fans and pundits everywhere have given him warm praise for building a team with an insatiable appetite for attack.
Germany’s last real failure at a World Cup was in 1978 in Argentina, when as holders they went out at the second group stage. Since then they have reached the final four times, winning it in 1990, and the quarter finals in 1994 and 1998.
Christoph Metzelder will return to a full strength side at centre back after being rested in the Ecuador game.
The Swedes have had to battle to come through the group stage this time after being held to a goalless draw with Trinidad & Tobago in their opening match.They clinched a 1-0 win over Paraguay with a late goal and made certain of their place with the draw against England.
“The second half was really good against England,” coach Lars Lagerback said. “Of course, it’s a little advantage for the German team to be playing at home but... the players can handle it.”
Sweden may have Zlatan Ibrahimovic back after an injury. Ibrahimovic missed the Paraguay and England games with a groin injury which is healing well, according to Lagerback.
Marcus Allback played a decent match in his absence and the coach may decide to keep Ibrahimovic in reserve
Germany: 1-Jens Lehmann; 3-Arne Friedrich, 21-Christoph Metzelder, 17-Per Mertesacker, 16-Philipp Lahm; 19-Bernd Schneider, 8-Torsten Frings, 13-Michael Ballack, 7-Bastian Schweinsteiger; 20-Lukas Podolski, 11-Miroslav Klose
Sweden: 1-Andreas Isaksson; 3-Olof Mellberg, 4-Teddy Lucic, 5-Erik Edman, 7-Niclas Alexandersson; 6-Tobias Linderoth, 9-Fredrik Ljungberg, 21-Christian Wilhelmsson, 16-Kim Kallstrom; 20-Marcus Allback, 11-Henrik Larsson