Berlin: Germany want to give their fans another World Cup celebration when they play Portugal for third place on Saturday. The team’s captain won’t be there, though.
Michael Ballack has an inflamed left knee and will miss the third-place match in Stuttgart. And goalkeeper Oliver Kahn will replace Jens Lehmann in goal, coach Juergen Klinsmann said on Friday.
Defenders Per Mertesacker and Arne Friedrich also will miss the match because of injuries. Mertesacker had surgery on his left heel and Friedrich twisted his knee.
Midfielder Tim Borowski broke off Friday’s practice after 20 minutes with a foot injury and is doubtful.
Kahn was Germany’s No. 1 goalkeeper at the 2002 World Cup, when Germany went to the final and lost to Brazil 0-2.
But Klinsmann decided in April to go with Lehmann as his starter. Kahn accepted to be the reserve and Klinsmann has praised his role in the team.
Lehmann was consulted about Kahn keeping goal on Saturday and agreed to the move, Klinsmann said.
While the World Cup’s third-place playoff game doesn’t carry anything close to the glamour of the showcase final, it brings a chance for Germany and Portugal to take a little bit more prestige out of the tournament.
The third-place match is often criticised as a lame duck but the hosts, Portugal and Fifa have all put on a brave face before the game and a sell-out crowd will ensure a vibrant atmosphere.
The fixture is notorious, though, for pitting two emotionally shattered teams against each other when they might prefer to slink off home and bury their sorrows quietly.
Germany, in particular, will have a big job to lift themselves after their dramatic semi-final defeat on Tuesday, when Italy scored twice at the end of extra time.
Portugal’s dream of a first appearance in the World Cup final ended with a controversial penalty as they lost 0-1 to France on Wednesday. Their exit was less traumatic as they surpassed expectations by making the last four for the first time since 1966.
Fifa defends the third-place fixture’s existence at every World Cup and spokesman Markus Siegler was clearly prepared when, inevitably, he was questioned about it on Wednesday. “I believe there is still a high value in this match,” he said. “For the players it matters whether they come in third or fourth.”
“It has something, it is a World Cup game,” Klinsmann said. “We want to be third and we are going to give it our best and try to give our fans a good game.”
“We all wish we were in the final but we all want to win the game on Saturday. I was very sad that we didn’t make the final, but third place is better than fourth,” German striker Miroslav Klose said.
There is this matter of clinching the golden shoe award for Klose, who tops the World Cup scoring charts with five goals so far, but he may have to miss the match with a calf problem.
Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led his native Brazil to the title four years ago, missed his chance at winning the World Cup with different countries.
But his team can leave their mark in Portugal’s soccer history by equalling the accomplishment of Eusebio’s 1966 team that beat the Soviet Union to capture third place ' their best finish at the World Cup.
“We’re proud and happy to be in the best four of the 32 teams that started this tournament,” Scolari said. “It’s a historic achievement.”
Portugal is trying to shrug off the agony of their semi-final defeat. “We’re all sad about the result, but the World Cup isn’t over and we have to pick ourselves up for the Germany game,” midfielder Luis Figo said.
Germany: 12-Oliver Kahn; 6-Jens Nowotny, 21-Christoph Metzelder, 4-Robert Huth, 16-Philipp Lahm; 19-Bernd Schneider, 5-Sebastian Kehl, 13-Michael Ballack, 18-Tim Borowski; 20-Lukas Podolski, 11-Miroslav Klose.
Portugal: 1-Ricardo; 2-Paulo Ferreira, 5-Fernando Meira, 4-Ricardo Costa, 14-Nuno Valente; 6-Costinho, 18-Maniche, 7-Luis Figo, 17-Cristiano Ronaldo, 20-Deco; 9-Pauleta.
Germany and Portugal have never played each other in the World Cup finals, but have met 14 times since their first encounter in February 1936. Germany have won six times, Portugal thrice, while five matches were drawn. Since 1985, they have seven times, both winning two matches each. The details of the seven matches are below:
• Feb. 24, 1985: W. Germany bt Portugal 2-1 in Lisbon (WC Preliminary)
• Oct. 16, 1985: West Germany lost to Portugal 0-1 in Stuttgart (WC Preliminary)
• Aug. 29, 1990: West Germany drew Portugal 1-1 in Lisbon (Friendly)
• Feb. 21, 1996: Germany bt Portugal 2-1 in Porto (Friendly)
• Dec. 14, 1996: Germany drew Portugal 0-0 in Lisbon (WC Preliminary)
• Sept. 6, 1997: Germany drew Portugal 1-1 in Berlin (WC Preliminary)
• June 20, 2000: Germany lost to Portugal 0-3 in Rotterdam (EURO Cup Preliminary)
F Note: Portugal have aggregated eight goals to Germany’s six.
Compiled by Mohandas Menon