PORT ELIZABETH, July 9 – Two-time winners Uruguay and three-time champions Germany clash here on Saturday in a match that neither side wanted to be contesting – the playoff to decide third place.Both coaches, Oscar Tabarez of Uruguay and Germany’s Joachim Loew will have a job on their hands to rouse their players for one last effort after losing their semi-finals to the Netherlands and Spain respectively.
The Uruguayans have an advantage in that they will have had an extra day to absorb their disappointment and 63-year-old Tabarez is known to be a shrewd motivator of men.
He has already been firm in his resolve following the 3-2 defeat by the Dutch that they would put aside the loss and aim to finish third going one better than their performance in 1970.
"To use a term that is common in the team — we have to bury this match and get over our sorrow," said Tabarez, in his second spell in charge having guided Uruguay to the last 16 in 1990.
He will definitely have Ajax hitman Luis Suarez back after he served his one match suspension for being sent off for punching the ball off the line in the quarter-final against Ghana.
And it looks likely he will be reunited with his inspirational strike partner Diego Forlan, who had been in danger of missing the match through injury after playing through the pain barrier in the semi-final.
The 31-year-old Atletico Madrid star – scorer of four goals in the finals – carried the unspecified injury throughout the loss to the Dutch but Tabarez is confident he can play some sort of role in the match and Forlan appeared to concur with the coach.
"I think it will be an attractive game – Germany play very good football," said Forlan.
"But we also have our style of play. I hope it will be a good game – but our goal is to go out there and win this third place for Uruguay."
Unlike the South Americans Germany will feel third or fourth place is a poor consolation for the chance of a fourth title.
Loew, though, will want his side to bow out of this tournament on a high and give him another boost as it was reported on Friday that he would be granted a new two year contract after initial talks broke down earlier this year.
Certainly German captain Philipp Lahm, who was in tears after the 1-0 loss to Spain, said a night’s sleep had allowed him to digest the defeat a little bit more and had reflected on his initial decision that it was not worth playing in the consolation match.
"Four years ago, we thought it was fantastic to play for third place," said Lahm, referring to their defeat of Portugal in the third place match in Germany in 2006.
"Before, like a lot of people, I didn’t even want to watch this match on television.
"But now, I believe that winning this match is important, that it can provide us with some consolation."
For one German player too there remains the possibility of leaving his permanent mark on the World Cup.
Miroslav Klose, who is unlikely to be part of the next squad in 2014 when he will be 36, needs two goals against Uruguay to pass Brazil’s Ronaldo as the all-time World Cup leading goalscorer. He has already bagged 14 in three World Cups.
However, the Bayern Munich star was classed as a doubt after picking up a knock in the semi-final defeat.
"Klose has problems with his back," said German assistant coach Hansi Flick.
"He was hurt in an aerial duel, and we are hoping that he will be okay for the match."
KEY TO THE MATCH
Effectively the day after the night before with the champagne flat the winner will be the side that can best motivate themselves to one last effort and claim the bragging rights to being the third best team in the world – for four years,