Monday, November 29, 1999

Germany plan to cut towering Serbian down to size

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Germany will seek to thwart tall striker Nikola Zigic's ball distribution inside the box when they take on Serbia in their second Group D match on Friday, they said on Wednesday.Serbia, who lost their opener to Ghana 1-0, have their backs to the wall when they face three-time World Cup winners Germany, brimming with confidence following their 4-0 opening win over Australia."Serbia are a team of a totally different calibre to Australia," assistant coach Hansi Flick told reporters. "They are a very compact team playing their last chance to remain in this tournament," he said."They are a very, very dangerous team with several players active in top European clubs."The Germans have earmarked 2.02 metres-tall (6ft 7in) Zigic as their number one threat, his height a potential deadly advantage from high balls."It could be a game of second balls (lay-ons)," midfielder Sami Khedira said. "We have to try to win those second balls from him because if we win them then we also stifle their game."Khedira has so far successfully stepped into injured Michael Ballack's holding midfield role but has added a new twist, darting forward and leaving fellow midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger further back."We have to play the game we played against Australia. The Serbs must win. For them this match is a final," Khedira said.Zigic was completely shut out in their defeat to Ghana and Germany's tall central defenders Per Mertesacker and Arne Friedrich will look to do a similar job, Flick said.Coach Joachim Loew is unlikely to make any changes to his starting 11 from the first match, with Schweinsteiger, battling a minor cold, fit to play."We are happy that the starting lineup was so successful and there are no major changes expected for the Serbian match," Flick said.(Editing by Jon Bramley)
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