Uruguay ‘to fight’ Germany for third

July 10th, 2010

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has warned Germany that his side will “fight to the death” in Saturday’s World Cup third-place play-off in Port Elizabeth.

After missing out on a place in the final, the clash of the losing World Cup semi-finalists is often seen as little more than a glorified friendly.

But Tabarez said: “Yes, fourth position is not the same as others.

“But we will go in with the same commitment and enthusiasm as always. We will prepare to fight to the death.”

Uruguay missed out on a place in Sunday’s showpiece final in Johannesburg after their 3-2 defeat by Netherlands, while Germany crashed out at the penultimate hurdle 1-0 to Spain.

But both camps are insistent that they will resist the temptation to take their foot off the pedal at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

“For us, this World Cup is anything but over,” said Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff. “We will be 100 percent focused and dedicated (on Saturday).

“We want to play with the same fresh, free-flowing football we have shown so far here.”

Tabarez added: “At the moment, Germany and Uruguay have both secured fourth place by reaching the semi-final.

“But the challenge for Uruguay is to finish third in the World Cup. I know Germany and they will make it very difficult for us, so we must fight hard to win.”

La Celeste have already surpassed expectations by reaching the last four, despite winning the tournament twice before (in 1934 and 1950) largely thanks to the inspired form of frontman Diego Forlan.

The 31-year-old has scored four goals in the tournament so far – but his hopes of winning this year’s Golden Boot may well be scuppered by a thigh injury that affected his performance in the semi-final defeat by the Netherlands.

He hopes to be fit, but should he miss out on selection Uruguay can at least recall a natural successor in Luis Suarez – the Ajax forward available again after being suspended for the semi-final thanks to his controversial last-minute handball in the quarters against Ghana.

Germany may also have selection issues up front, with another Golden Boot contender – Miroslav Klose – struggling with a bad back.

Lukas Podolski and Philipp Lahm are also battling to shake off flu, but Thomas Mueller looks certain to be recalled after he too was suspended for the semi-final.

Either way, it is likely that Germany will give an opportunity to some of those players yet to make their mark in the tournament.

“Last night, some flu virus hit us hard, maybe to do with the flights, air conditioning and maybe the disappointment (of losing to Spain),” said Bierhoff, who revealed manager Joachim Loew was one of those suffering with the virus.

“Loew has a serious case of flu, but we are trying to get him fit and on the bench for Saturday.

“It remains to be seen if Klose will play, likewise we don’t want Lahm to get injured and then carry that into the new Bundesliga season.

“Sometimes it is good to field unspoiled players for this sort of match.”

Uruguay may consider themselves fresher given the advantage of having had an extra day off with their semi-final having been played on Tuesday.

And Tabarez, in his second spell in charge having guided Uruguay to the last 16 in 1990, said: “To use a term that is common in the team – we have to bury this match and get over our sorrow.

“We must give a good image like the one we delivered against the Netherlands on the pitch to show people in football that Uruguay wants to play at an equal level with others.

“We want to show that this is a team with pride, despite our limitations, and this third-place play-off match is important for this reason.”

Source: BBC Sport

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