Germany will face Mexico in Leipzig on Wednesday in the play-off for third place at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2005. Despite the fact that there is no trophy at stake, there remains a huge amount of interest in this game which will be played in front of a sell-out crowd of 42,500.
There is great expectation among fans, players and team management alike ahead of this clash between the two group winners who were knocked out at the semi-final stage. "The public in Leipzig can expect to see a tremendous game," said German coach Jurgen Klinsmann when asked about his team's final match of the FIFA Confederations Cup, which will kick off at 17.45CET. "This will be another interesting test for our team."
The Mannschaft face a tough encounter against the Mexicans, the surprise package of the tournament. Ricardo Lavolpe's men defeated the world champions Brazil in the group stage and only went out on penalties against Argentina in the semi-finals. Hence Klinsmann's words of respect for his opponents. "I have been hugely impressed by the performance of the Mexican team in this tournament. They have beaten Brazil and came very close to defeating Argentina," he said.
Team manager Oliver Bierhoff also holds Lavolpe's side in high regard. "Mexico have been a revelation in the Confederations Cup. They are agile, quick and have great fighting spirit. We are looking forward to playing against a tough opponent."
History suggests that Germany are favourites, however. In nine appearances against Mexico, the Mannschaft have won four, drawn four and lost only one. What is more, Mexico's only win dates back almost exactly 20 years to 15 June 1985, when they defeated the Europeans 2-0 in Mexico City.
Germany emerged as victors from the last meeting between the two countries, in the last 16 at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. Mexico lost that match in Montpellier 2-1, going down to goals from Klinsmann and Bierhoff, ironically. And now the tournament hosts are hoping for another victory to secure third place. "It is vital that we finish the tournament on a high note," said Klinsmann. Bierhoff added: "Naturally, we want to win and secure third place."
However, Mexico are not prepared to settle for fourth position. After recovering from the bitter disappointment of going out to Argentina in the semi-final, Jared Borgetti turned his attention to the task ahead. "Now we want to beat Germany and secure third place," said the Mexican striker.
If they are to achieve this, Mexico will once again have to be on top form. "This game is pretty special since we are playing against the host nation," Borgetti added. "Germany are a very tough nut to crack." These sentiments are reflected in the views of coach Lavolpe: "We have a mountain to climb playing against the hosts in front of their home fans in a sell-out stadium."
Those lucky enough to have tickets for the game at Leipzig's Zentralstadion can look forward to a fascinating encounter between the highest-scoring attack of the tournament and the strongest defence. Germany have scored eleven goals in their last four games while Mexico have conceded only two.
Klinsmann summarised the situation facing both teams on Wednesday in Leipzig: "The players must give their all one more time. Only then can they go a well-earned holiday."