Uruguay and Germany prepare for one final effort
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Uruguay and Germany prepare for one final effort

Just days after suffering the bitter blow of missing out on the World Cup final, Uruguay and Germany have to lift themselves for one final effort in Saturday's third place match at Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

sports Updated: Jul 09, 2010 11:51 IST

It's one of the hardest games in football to prepare for.

Just days after suffering the bitter blow of missing out on the World Cup final, Uruguay and Germany have to lift themselves for one final effort in Saturday's third place match at Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Fans don't generally remember the team that finishes third at a World Cup, but it gives the Uruguayans and Germans a chance to sign off in South Africa with victory, after they both missed out on world football's biggest occasion by a single goal. Uruguay brought back memories of previous triumphs in 1930 and 1950 with their run to the last four.

Yet, they left Cape Town devastated after the 3-2 semifinal loss to the Netherlands, according to striker Diego Forlan. Pride at Uruguay's best World Cup showing in 40 years, the Celeste last made the semifinals in 1970, is mixed with desperate disappointment. "We were so close to a World Cup final and we have missed a great chance," Forlan said.

"We've had a good tournament and it's been a fine World Cup for us," said midfielder Egidio Arevalo, "but we're still gutted." For Germany, its narrow 1-0 defeat by Spain was possibly even more painful considering its wondrous form leading up to the game _ and the fact that it has now lost in the semis in successive World Cups, as well as the final in 2002 and the final of the 2008 European Championships.

With its youngest team in many years, three-time winner Germany swept aside England and Argentina in the 2010 knockout stages, scoring four goals against both teams as its scintillating form suggested it would win a first world title in 20 years. Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, arguably Germany's best player at the tournament, epitomised the despair after Germany was edged out at the Moses Mabhida Stadium when he sunk to his knees at the final whistle.

Captain Philipp Lahm was in tears. "It's a shame, we're sad, and we're all disappointed," coach Joachim Loew said. "It's not worked out the way we wanted it." "I guess I'll never win the World Cup title," said veteran striker Miroslav Klose, who lost the 2002 final to Brazil and was on the losing side against Italy in the 2006 semifinals in Germany. In probably his last World Cup, the 32-year-old Klose remains one goal shy of Brazilian striker Ronaldo's 15-goal World Cup record. Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick said Thursday Klose has a back problem and could miss Saturday's match, despite him showing no sings of any injury immediately after the semifinal defeat. "I want to win against Uruguay, even if I don't score," Klose had said.

Lahm said the team still remembers the third-place match against Portugal in 2006 and the enthusiastic reception the fans gave the players after the 3-1 win.

"We saw four years ago how great this game can be and we want to go home with a win and with a good feeling," Lahm said. Loew, whose own future as national coach is in doubt, will have his management skills challenged as he tries to pick up his players for one more game. He said Germany would take the game "quite seriously," even if some changes in the lineup are expected. "Third place also means something," assistant coach Flick stressed. "It would be important to win the 'small final."' Like Klose, Uruguay's best attacker could also be boosted in the playoff by a possible personal milestone.

Forlan, who scored Uruguay's equalizer against the Dutch at Green Point Stadium, has four goals in the competition, one short of leading scorers David Villa of Spain and the Netherlands' Wesley Sneijder.

He's also an injury doubt.

Forlan was replaced in the 84th minute during the semi with a right thigh strain. He hopes to be fit for Saturday as he looks to finish with the victory that would better Uruguay's fourth place finish in 1970, and give the country its best World Cup performance since its second title 60 years ago.

"I want to play for that third place because even that would be great for everyone. Then I hope to have a big holiday because I am really tired," Forlan said.

Fellow striker Luis Suarez, who will return from a one game suspension after his infamous goal-saving handball against Ghana in the quarterfinals, was even more adamant Uruguay wasn't finished. "Now what's left is to play to the death for third place," Suarez said. "For this squad, the World Cup is not over yet."

First Published: Jul 09, 2010 11:48 IST