Germany euphoric after 3-0 win over Ecuador
21 June 2006, BERLIN - Germany was in a euphoric mood Wednesday after their 3-0 victory over Ecuador set up a last-16 encounter with Sweden and the prospect of a place in the quarter-finals.
21 June 2006
BERLIN - Germany was in a euphoric mood Wednesday after their 3-0 victory over Ecuador set up a last-16 encounter with Sweden and the prospect of a place in the quarter-finals.
The last eight is the minimum target for coach Juergen Klinsmann, but three wins out of three is fuelling the belief that the hosts can go all the way to the final on July 9 - and win that too.
"We don't have to fear anyone now," wrote Franz Beckenbauer, president of the World Cup organizing committee, in the mass- circulation Bild newspaper.
"With every game you can feel that something is coming together. Hopefully the new world champions."
Germany have put in three convincing performances in the 4-2 victory over Costa Rica, the 1-0 defeat of Poland and Tuesday's comfortable drubbing of a lacklustre Ecuador in Berlin.
In Miroslav Klose, whose two goals against Ecuador took his tournament tally up to four, Germany also have a striker playing at the peak of his game. Klose, the Bundesliga top scorer last season, is now joint fourth all-time German World Cup scorer on nine goals.
"With Miroslav Klose we have one of the best goalscorers in the world. He is irreplaceable in our team," said Beckenbauer, who said the 28-year-old Werder Bremen forward reminded him of his former team-mate Gerd Mueller, the best goalscorer in World Cup history.
The German press Wednesday was unanimous in its praise for the national team which on the strength of its Group A encounters has suddenly gone from no-hopers to world-beaters.
"Klinsi, we have to polish off these IKEA kickers," the daily Berliner Zeitung said of Germany's next opponents in Munich on Saturday, in a reference to the Swedish furniture giant. The Swedish defence, it said, was "as shaky as an IKEA shelf system where half the screws have been forgotten".
However Klinsmann has fired a warning to his team. Sweden will be a tougher proposition and the knock-out stage a different challenge.
Unambitious Ecuador, who lacked all cohesion after resting key players, were "no yardstick for that which is awaiting us in the knock-out round", said Klinsmann. "Now come the games where everything is on the line and you can't make any mistakes."
Despite the delight at the best World Cup start for a German side since the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, Klinsmann was not entirely happy with the performance against Ecuador. The defence and midfield had left too much room for their opponents, and the players dropped the pace too much in the heat and humidity of the Olympic Stadium.
"We have the points but we want to stay in the tournament another three weeks. That's why we all have our feet on the ground," he said.
Captain Michael Ballack also sounded a word of warning. "We'll have to play to our limit in the last 16. The important thing is though that with these three wins we have gained a lot of self- belief."
Ballack successfully got through the game without a second booking, which would have led to an automatic one-match suspension, and was surprisingly named man of the match instead of two-goal Klose.
Klinsmann, who will have all his players available for the Sweden match, was also pleased to see Lukas Podolski get his first goal of the tournament to end mounting talk of a form crisis for the Bayern Munich-bound striker.
Meanwhile Klose was demonstrating that he was a world-class goal poacher. "The true goalscorers reveal themselves at the World Cup, he has understood that," said Klinsmann.
In defence, another clean sheet has ended the discussion over Germany's weaknesses in that area, for the time being at least.
Central defender Robert Huth, who was the only change from the team that had beaten Poland, was faultless at the back, but was barely tested by an Ecuador side without any adequate replacements for rested strikers Agustin Delgado and Carlos Tenorio.
Christoph Metzelder, who made way for Huth, will almost certainly return to partner Per Mertesacker at the back against Sweden.
Subject: German news