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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 10:48, July 08, 2006
Preview: Hosts, Portugal to battle for bronze and pride
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Pride is all at stake when the world cup journey comes down to a bronze medal match, but both Germany and Portugal wants to end the campaign on a high note.

Following hosts' dramatic 2-0 defeat by Italy in the semifinal of the 2006 World Cup, coach Jurgen Klinsmann has urged his side to give the fans a final celebration in the play-off for third place against Portugal.

"I think the team has the strength of character to leave this tournament with their heads held high," Klinsmann said at the eve of Saturday's match.

"We will make every effort to give the lads fresh heart. I've no doubts they will once again give everything they've got and deliver a good performance."

However, Germany will be forced to do without three first-choice players. Captain Michael Ballack will be absent due to an inflamed left knee, while Per Mertesacker underwent surgery on Thursday on his injured left heel. Right-back Arne Friedrich will also be missing after twisting his knee.

Oliver Kahn will replace Jens Lehmann in the German goal on Saturday for his first appearance at this summer's showpiece tournament. The German 2002 world cup hero has sit out the hosts' games so far, watching Lehmann giving his sparkling performance, which justified Klinsmann's controversial choice to start him.

The other changes to the team will see left-sided defender Marcell Jansen and Chelsea centre-back Robert Huth start.

For the Portuguese, they might have more to prove after a bitter 1-0 semifinal loss to France on a Zidane penalty.

Portugal Coach Luiz Felipe Soclari, who had rebuked the Uruguay referee for "killing the (France) game", is also planning changes, partly to help motivate his team.

The Portuguese will not be at full strength, with defender Miguel out with a knee injury and Center-back Ricardo Carvalho suspended.

Paulo Ferreira would stand in for Miguel at right-back and Ricardo Costa will get his first World Cup appearance. At least two more lineup changes are likely, Scolari said, though he declined to name them.

"We will be fired up going into this game, even though we're devastated to have missed out on the Final. We will take the job seriously and make our country and every Portuguese fan proud of us," said midfielder Constinha.

Miroslav Klose has now scored a total of 10 goals over his two World Cup finals. Even so, the Werder Bremen striker's appetite for goals is far from sated.

"Of course I would like to score. Anyone who knows me understands that I'm not finished yet," said the German World Cup leading scorer.

Portugal's goalkeeper Ricardo can again expect to have plenty of work to do in Stuttgart as Klose is leading the score sheet with five goals and eager to win Golden Boot by scoring more.

German teams have previously appeared three times in the match for third place, winning twice. Their only defeat came courtesy of a 6-3 hammering by France at Sweden 1958.

However, it is not only the hosts who want to leave Germany 2006 with one last victory under, and also to provide a fitting farewell present for legendary winger Luis Figo on his final international appearance.

"Even third place would be an achievement for us," says defender Fernando Meira, "That gives us a great incentive to keep fighting."

Victory against the host nation would also see the Selecao das Quinas match their best-ever performance at world football's greatest tournament. Back in 1966 in England, a Eusrbio-inspired Portuguese side took third place with a 2-1 victory over the former Soviet Union.

Germany and Portugal have previously met on 14 occasions. Germany lead the way with six wins to Portugal's three, with five matches drawn. This will be the two sides' first World Cup meeting. The last match between them represents a painful memory for the Germans, who were beaten 3-0 during the 2000 UEFA European Championships.

Source: Xinhua

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