Germany look to raise their game

Germany look to raise their game

Germany, a powerhouse at the senior level, are yet to leave an impression at the under-17 level. They face a stern test on Monday in the pre-quarterfinal against Colombia, who stand to gain from their experience of playing at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Colombia, who finished second with two wins and one defeat in Group A, played their first two matches here. Like Germany, who finished second in Group C, they too scored five times in the first round.

German coach Christian Wueck acknowledged the quality Colombia have at their disposal, but said there was no pressure on his boys to win titles. “Their group had close competition. Colombia has some strong and fast players. We are very happy to play in Delhi. The humidity is not so high as it was in Goa and Kochi where we played our league matches,” said Wueck.

Germany, who are yet to win the under-17 World Cup, have arrived here on the back of an impressive campaign in the under-17 European championships where the team scored 17 goals in five matches. Here in India, they suffered a shock defeat against Iran before bouncing back to secure their place in the knockouts.

Wueck insisted the focus of Germany was on development of players. “There is no pressure to win titles but we look forward to develop the players. I think the Europeans are a bit slow in developing their players. Winning here would be strong for their football education,” he said.

Colombia, who are fresh from their win over US in the last group match, put up a confident front. Coach Orlando Restrepo admitted they hold a slight advantage due to their familiarity with conditions. “We are familiar with the surroundings here and used to the hot weather in Delhi. We believe this will give us a small advantage,” he said.

“We encountered teams with different styles of play. The teams challenged us in different ways. We changed our players and system against the US. We shifted to a 3-4-1-2 formation from 4-2-1-3. This allowed us to recover the ball quickly, we had better possession, we played with confidence and we had greater intensity.”

Colombian goalkeeper Nicolas Gomez said their defence was strong enough to match the German attack. “We’ve played all our matches well. But perhaps, it improved in the last match. Logically, Germany’s forwards are quite strong. But I think our defence can match their strength and it should not be a problem,” he said.

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