Germany boss Joachim Low has warned his players not to be caught out by a Serbia backlash as they attempt to continue their charge into the last 16. The Germans turned in arguably the performance of the opening round of games when they trounced Group D rivals Australia 4-0 in Durban on Sunday.
Serbia had earlier gone down 1-0 to Ghana in Pretoria, but while Low's men have been basking in the praise of an appreciative worldwide audience ever since, he will not allow complacency to creep into his squad ahead of tomorrow's showdown in Port Elizabeth.
He said: "Serbia are like a boxer who has taken the first blow, and they will be poised to hit back. They simply have to win the next match, so we know they will be poised to hit back. I have heard their coach [Radomir Antic] talk about honour and character. He says it's an historic match, the match of the year, so it is going to be difficult.
"If you know the Serbian culture, they are very strong fighters and are perfectly able to deliver on their promises. I expect a very different Serbian performance to the first match. They will go the extra mile until the last minute."
Germany's display against Australia showcased the talents of youngsters Thomas Mueller and Holger Badstuber as a new generation of international stars began to emerge in earnest. Mueller in particular played well in a midfield robbed of the services of captain Michael Ballack through injury, and Low is confident he has the talent within his squad to cope with the loss of any player.
He said: "Michael Ballack is a world-class player and he has helped this team a great deal. But we have had one match here and we have seen you can compensate for the loss of such a player and share the burden.
"We have got a strong team with or without Michael Ballack, with or without any other player. We have got to be in a position to replace any player at any time, and we have got good solutions."
The quality of Germany's opening performance has inevitably seen the odds on a lengthy stay in South Africa increase markedly, although their coach is not about to allow himself to be carried away. Indeed, for all he was delighted with much of what he saw in Durban, he insists there is room for improvement.
He said: "We have looked at the match against Australia and while we won 4-0, I wasn't perfectly happy with our game in all areas. We were not 100% satisfied. There were some cases where I think we could have done better, where there is room for improvement, and that's what I pointed out to the team.
"Over the past four days, we have tried to work on these weaknesses. But I don't think the players will be complacent just because of one good win against Australia. My players have been very focused in their preparation for the next match. They left the Australia match behind after a very short period of time and started to concentrate on the second match."
As for being tipped to go all the way in the competition, Low will have no difficulty in keeping feet firmly on the ground. He said: "We know how to come to terms with such a situation, even our young players."