German expectations run high

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Swedish coach called for an experienced referee to cope with the pressure created by massive German support

The Germans admired Klinsmann's upbeat approachKlinsmann and his staff were impressed by Sweden rally against EnglandSweden holds a 13-12 edge over Germany, with six draws

BERLIN: Having grown from suspect side to national darlings in three victories, Jurgen Klinsmann's Germany faces Sweden in the second round of the World Cup with expectations it wouldn't have predicted a few weeks ago.

Crowds made euphoric by Germany's perfect start have begun to dream beyond the quarterfinals and anything but a win on Saturday in Munich would be considered a failure.

``We wanted to win the group, we scored three victories, we got more confidence and we are growing as a team,'' Klinsmann said. ``Now, the real World Cup is beginning. We have fantastic fans and great support and this integration with our fans is great, but we have to keep our feet on the ground.''

When he became Germany coach two years ago, Klinsmann promised to lead the host nation to its fourth World Cup title.

The Germans admired his upbeat approach and credited it to the can-do attitude he must have picked up in his adopted homeland of the United States, but were sceptical of how realistic the promise was.

While the media doubted and often damned him, the fans enjoyed it: they started a love affair with Klinsmann's young, daring, attacking team that had cast away the dour efficiency of the previous generations and was fun to watch.

Klinsmann's team paid them back by giving Germany its best World Cup start in 36 years and now it may have a problem even the doubters have become believers.

``In the knockout stage, it's also a matter of being strong mentally,'' he said. ``With the first three wins, we've picked up a lot of confidence and motivation. But it's going to be very, very hard on Saturday and we'll have to improve. Sweden deserves our full respect,'' Klinsmann said.

Klinsmann and his staff were impressed how Sweden twice rallied after falling behind against England to earn a 2-2 draw.

``They are a very uncomfortable team to play against. They are strong in the back, they are strong up front,'' assistant coach Joachim Loew said. ``Their set pieces are a great danger, they are very precise and sharp. They play at high pace, they apply pressure, they have the confidence that they can score late in the game.''

Set pieces practice

The Germans spent much of Thursday's session practicing set pieces and defending against them.

Sweden, on the other hand, spent most of Thursday resting and practicing penalties.

``Eating, drinking and sleeping that's absolutely most important,'' Swedish coach Lars Lagerback said in Bremen. ``You have to get fresh again after playing three (group) matches and now we only have three days of rest.''

Lagerback called for an experienced referee to cope with the pressure created by massive German support. Germany will have the biggest fan support in Munich, with only 20,000 Swedes expecting to obtain tickets to the match in the 66,000-seat stadium.

``Of course I think it's a little advantage for the German team, the most important thing is that we have an experienced referee who can handle the situation with a lot of German fans in the stands,'' Lagerback said.

``Otherwise, I don't think it's a big deal. The players are used to it and I think they can handle it very well.''

FIFA appointed Carlos Simon of Brazil to referee the match.

Both teams were to fly to Munich on Friday and train at the arena in the evening.

``It will only be a very light session tomorrow because it's all about getting back in perfect physical condition again,'' Lagerback said.

Sweden holds a 13-12 edge over Germany, with six draws. The teams last met in the 1992 European Championship semifinal in Stockholm, when Germany won 3-2.

All Sweden players are fit except for striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who sustained a left groin injury during warmup before the Paraguay game. Agencies

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