Germany and Uruguay will look to rouse themselves for one last game on Saturday when they face off in the playoff for third place at Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Both sides are downcast after missing out on a place in Sunday’s World Cup final at Soccer City but have a chance to finish their sojourn in South Africa on a high note.
However, while the 3-1 victory over Portugal in Stuttgart four years ago was viewed as a celebration by the home fans, this time around the atmosphere around what the Germans call the “little final” is more funereal.
Unlike in 2006, there will be no parade in Berlin when the tournament ends. Team captain Philipp Lahm said a potential third-place bronze medal was nothing to celebrate.
“This team had a higher goal than ending up playing for third place,” said the Bayern Munich defender ahead of Germany’s record fifth appearance in a third-place match.
The two countries met at this stage of the World Cup once before, in 1970, when Helmut Schoen’s Germany prevailed 1-0. Uruguay’s sole competitive victory in nine attempts against Germany came at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, the South Americans winning 4-1.
If Uruguay are to end their 82-year wait for a victory against Germany, they might have to do so without captain Diego Lugano and Diego Forlan, who are both struggling to recover in time.
Lugano missed the 3-2 semifinal defeat to the Netherlands with a thigh strain while Forlan was substituted shortly before the end of the game against the Dutch.
However, coach Oscar Tabarez has Luis Suarez and Jorge Fucile available for selection, who served one-match bans.
“It will be a difficult game,” said Tabarez. “Finishing fourth is not the same as third. We’ll go into the game with the same engagement and passion as we did against Holland.”
Germany coach Joachim Loew has a doubt over striker Miroslav Klose, who is suffering from a back problem. The 32-year-old is one player desperate to play as he needs just one more goal to equal Brazilian striker Ronaldo’s 15-goal World Cup record.
Midfielder Sami Khedira and Lahm have both recovered from knocks while Loew is expected to give run outs to the four German players who have yet to feature. “That would be simply a reward for their hard work,” said assistant coach Hansi Flick.
Keywords: 2010 FIFA World Cup