Berlin, July 7:
Germany wants to give its fans another World Cup celebration when it plays Portugal for third place on Saturday. The teamâ€™s captain wonâ€™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 Fridayâ€™s practice after 20 minutes with a foot injury and is doubtful. Kahn was Germanyâ€™s No 1 goalkeeper at the 2002 World Cup, when Germany went to the final and lost to Brazil 2-0.
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 Cupâ€™s third-place playoff game doesnâ€™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. After missing out on soccerâ€™s biggest prize, the two countries are making the most of Saturdayâ€™s game.
â€œIt has something, it is a World Cup game,â€ Klinsmann said. â€œWe want to be third and we are going to give it our best and try to give our fans a good game.â€ The host nation wants to conclude a festive World Cup that has galvanised the country with a last celebration.
The German team silenced widespread doubts at home about its chances and gave way to a sense of euphoria after each win. â€œWe all wish we were in the final but we all want to win the game on Saturday. I was very sad that we didnâ€™t make the final, but third place is better than fourth,â€ German striker Miroslav Klose said. â€œIt will be a tough match against Portugal,â€ said Klose, who leads the tournament with five goals.
Portugalâ€™s 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 its mark in Portugalâ€™s soccer history by equalling the accomplishment of Eusebioâ€™s 1966 team that beat the Soviet Union to capture third place â€” its best finish at the World Cup.
â€œWeâ€™re proud and happy to be in the best four of the 32 teams that started this tournament,â€ Scolari said. â€œItâ€™s an historic achievement.â€ Klose and Portuguese midfielder Maniche also are being consider for the Golden Ball, awarded to the best player of the tournament.
Portugal, which lost 1-0 to France on Wednesday for its first defeat of the tournament, has one day less than Germany to prepare for Stuttgart. But Germany played for two hours when it lost to Italy in extra time.
Portugal is trying to shrug off the agony of its semi-final defeat. â€œWeâ€™re all sad about the result, but the World Cup isnâ€™t over and we have to pick ourselves up for the Germany game,â€ midfielder Luis Figo said.
Midfield playmaker Deco, whose form in Germany has been patchy, said the team owes its fans a winning performance. â€œSaturdayâ€™s game is going to be hard, but weâ€™ve got our pride intact and weâ€™re sure that the whole of Portugal is sad and that they are suffering just as we are. We have to do our best for the fans,â€ the Brazilian native said.