(Reuters) – Germany and Uruguay will hope to salvage some pride in their third-place playoff match on Saturday after devastating semi-final defeats earlier this week.
The two teams were largely written-off in the run-up to the finals but can hold their heads high after some stunning performances against top-ranked sides before their respective exits to Spain and Netherlands in the last four.
Germany’s high-scoring young side are determined to cap their impressive World Cup with one last win in Port Elizabeth where coach Joachim Loew promised his bitterly disappointed players will be in the right frame of mind and ready to win.
“The disappointment is there but now we need to build up the team a bit,” he said after the Germans were dumped out 1-0 by a far superior Spanish outfit in Durban on Wednesday.
“I’m certain we will go into the match with the necessary focus. No one needs to hang their heads low and we want to have a good final match,” said Loew, whose team thrashed widely fancied England and Argentina in the knockout stages.
History will not favor twice World Cup winners Uruguay in this match after fourth place finishes the last two times they reached the semi-finals, losing out in the playoff to Austria in 1954 and the Germans in 1970.
Germany have finished third on three occasions and lost the playoff only once in 1958, to France.
Two players central to the German and Uruguayan marches through the knockout stages will be available again after suspensions that weighed heavily on both teams in the semis.
Attacking midfielder Thomas Mueller was sorely missed by the Germans on Wednesday and will likely start, as will Uruguay striker Luis Suarez, whose handball on the goal line late in the match against Ghana helped put his team in the last four.
Uruguay, who lost 3-2 to the Dutch after a last-gasp fight back, could be without in-form marksman Diego Forlan on Saturday because of a thigh problem sustained in the semi-final.
Three players who could figure — Forlan, Mueller and Miroslav Klose — are joint second in the scoring charts after netting four times each.
They all have a chance to win the golden boot if they can score twice and Spain’s David Villa and Dutchman Wesley Sneijder — joint top scorers with five — draw blanks in Sunday’s final.
Forlan said he was eager to play in the third-place match and wanted himself and Uruguay could go out on a high.
“I hope to be fit for Saturday,” he said. “I really want to play for third place. Even that would be great for everyone.”
(Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris)