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Germans aim for early qualification

Joachim Loew
Loew: confident ahead of second clash

Group D hits its crucial stage on Friday with the clash between Germany and Serbia in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. The Germans set the world alight with their opening display, meaning the Serbs face a daunting task to produce the win they need to keep their last 16 hopes alive.

For many this group has produced the best football of the tournament so far and that’s mainly down to the Germans who battered Australia 4-0 in Durban. It was the first game of this year’s finals to produce three goals as Germany ripped through the Australian defence like a knife through butter. Four of Joachim Loew’s forwards got on the scoresheet, with Mesut Ozil standing out as man-of-the-match. But the German coach still feels there’s room for improvement ahead of the Serbia clash.

“We can get better. In terms of closing the space between defence and midfield, we were too defensive,” said Loew.

“But we can be very satisfied, happy and confident with the performance. I am very happy about the performance, we showed some quick passing and good speed.”
“It was very important that we won because we gained a lot of self confidence. Our defence was excellent, they performed very well and I was very happy with our counter-attacks”, he added.

The Serbs had been tipped to go a long way by many before the tournament began but they went down went to a late penalty against Ghana in their opening game earlier on Sunday. A bizarre piece of defending which quite literally handed Ghana a late penalty could prove to be a pivotal moment in Group D. Ghana ran out winners 1-0 and Serbia now have a mountain to climb. Coach Radomir Antic had already seen his side reduced to ten men and would have settled for a point but he must now revise his plans for this game. Serbia edged possession against Ghana but chances were few and far between, giant striker Zigic disappointed and despite some individual flashes of quality from Milan Jovanovic, they lacked the creativity to break down the Black Stars.
It all means Ghana are also in a strong position in the group and they will be fancied to heap more misery on Australia in a match which takes place 24 hours after this one. The Serbs will probably have to approach this game assuming Ghana will beat Australia and that leaves them needing maximum points here as even a draw would be highly likely to leave them with too much to do in their final game whilst a defeat would effectively end their campaign. Meanwhile the Germans will know another win here will guarantee their place in the last 16 and they will obviously have aspirations of topping the group.

It all means Germany go into the fixture with the only pressure to produce the same standard of football as the first game. If that happens, the Serbs can book their flights home.

Prediction: Germany 2 Serbia 1

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