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19.06.2014·18:15·National Team Men

Mertesacker: "Physically, Ghana are even stronger than Portugal"

On the brink of his 100th cap: Per Mertesacker  © GES-Sportfoto
On the brink of his 100th cap: Per Mertesacker

Attention within the Germany camp has long been focused on Saturday’s match against Ghana (live on ARD from 21:00 CEST). Before the team flew to Fortaleza on Thursday evening, Per Mertesacker and Roman Weidenfeller fielded questions from the press. DFB.de brings you a selection of their comments.

PER MERTESACKER ON...

..... the Ghana match: They want to shine and excel in every one-on-one situation. We’ve got to stay tight as a unit and get the fundamentals right as we did against Portugal. I think the most important thing is that physically, Ghana are even stronger than the Portuguese. It’ll be a fiery match, not least because of the heat in Fortaleza.

... the Boateng brothers’ duel and Kevin-Prince Boateng’s foul on Ballack: We’re not thinking about that at all; instead we’re concentrating on the team as a whole. Back then it was a shock for us and at first we didn’t know how we’d replace Michael Ballack. But it’s not an issue any more. We know Ghana have qualities. The only thing they lacked in 2010 was finishing.

.. defeat in the second group match: In the last two tournaments, we won the first match but lost the second. That should be enough of a warning to us. It’s also a must-win game for Ghana. We have to do more than win our one-on-one duels. It won’t be easy, especially given that it’s a critical match for our opponents.

... ... joining the 100 Club: A couple of years ago, I really wouldn’t have believed this could happen. I’m incredibly proud of the time – almost ten years – that I’ve now been a part of the national team. I really enjoy it, and tournaments like this one in Brazil are definitely highlights. I hope I can still bring something fresh to the team even though I’m getting on in years now. I couldn’t understand that back in 2004, and I always had to keep proving myself, but all those formative experiences are what kept me in the team all this time.

... flexibility in defence: If everyone stays fit, then you assume the basic formation will play. Of course, it’s important to the coach that we play as a unit, but who would have thought that we could play with four centre-backs? That says a lot for our flexibility.

... Mats Hummels’ injury: I expect Mats will be able to play on Saturday.
Mats didn’t take part in team training on Thursday; instead, he completed an individual session on the bike and received extensive treatment. According to press officer Jens Grittner, it is currently impossible to provide a prognosis for the Ghana match.

... a possible role as right-back: I played my first Bundesliga match as a right-back for Hanover in Cologne. After 45 minutes I was substituted and that was the end of that. I haven’t played as a full-back since.

.. watching a tournament from the bench: Naturally you want to play no matter what and you prepare as usual before the match. When the news comes, it’s like a slap in the face. That was a new experience for me [at EURO 2012]. It took me a while before I realised that I’m just one small part of the team. When I compare now with 2012, I certainly feel better this time around.

... Jürgen Klinsmann: He was the first coach to place his trust in a very young generation, and in that respect he was a breath of fresh air for the DFB. We’re still continuing what Jürgen started, even now. Many of the same players from back then are still in the team, and Jogi Löw has developed over time too. We’re definitely still influenced by that period, so it’ll make the match against him and the USA very special.

... euphoria in Germany: Back in 2006, we were initially surprised at how popular the fan miles proved to be. This time we’re mostly finding out what’s happening at home via social media, which is fantastic. We’re proud of the widespread support we get; I felt the same at the 2006 World Cup. It gives you goosebumps and we really appreciate it.

... Skhodran Mustafi: Young players bring something new to the team, so you get fresh ideas from them. Musti brings a certain calm to the side and the time he has spent in Italy means he is tactically smart player; I can definitely still learn something from that. New players also raise one important question: Can I still keep up? I also think it’s important that each player has his own character.

... the possible advantage for South American sides in the hot climate: All I can think of is the Swiss, who scored and won against Ecuador in the final seconds of the match. But it generally seems clear that South American teams can cope better here – we saw that yesterday with Chile.

Roman Weidenfeller: "We’ve got fantastic team spirit"  © GES-Sportfoto
Roman Weidenfeller: "We’ve got fantastic team spirit"

ROMAN WEIDENFELLER ON...

... the second group match against Ghana: We got off to a solid start against Portugal and naturally we now want to get a second win to progress to the last 16.

.. solidarity within the squad: We’ve got fantastic team spirit. When Mats scored you could see how happy everybody was, including all the players on the bench.

... Spain’s exit: We were on the training pitch when it happened and initially we were misinformed, so we were surprised when we found out later. It’s an extremely open World Cup, and Chile showed that you can’t underestimate any team here.

... Kevin-Prince Boateng’s bold comments before the game: I remember him from our time together at Borussia Dortmund. He’s always quick to offer up a quick quote and likes to polarise opinion, but he didn’t start their first match so I don’t think you can read much into it.

[sid/sts]

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