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Germany face soccer showdown with Japan

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Germany face soccer showdown with Japan
The German team at practice. Photo: DPA
09:22 CEST+02:00
Germany take on Japan on Saturday looking to book a place in the Women's World Cup semi-finals with the whole country behind them.

But Japan forward Yuki Nagasato is refusing to be daunted by their quarter-final match in Wolfsburg against the football tournament's hosts and defending champions.

Japan impressed in Group B with convincing wins over New Zealand and Mexico before they lost 2-0 to England in their final group game, and Nagasato, who plays for Turbine Potsdam in Germany, is relishing taking on the Germans.

"I'm look forward to playing them," she said. "I know the German players well, that way I can help my team prepare for the match. Germany may be big and strong, but that doesn't matter to me."

"In football, size is not necessarily important. We just have to think about how we want to play against them."

With 32 goals in 66 appearances for Japan, Nagasato opened her goal-scoring account at Germany 2011 in the 2-1 win over New Zealand in the opening game.

But veteran Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer is aiming for a clean sheet against the Japanese and warned against complacency.

"The mood is good, but we must not be careless and think it's going to be easy", she said.

Germany coach Silvia Neid left out captain Birgit Prinz, the most capped player in women's football, for their 4-2 win over France in their final group game after two below-par performances.

And the 33-year-old, who will retire after the tournament, expects to start on the bench again against Japan.

"I do not think I'm going to play from the beginning," said Prinz. "There is no reason to change anything in the attack."

Germany's playmaker Fatmire Bajramaj made her first start of the tournament against France and says the Japanese will be a step up from the French, who breached the German defence twice.

"They have developed and so have we," said Bajramaj, who scored both goals in Germany's 2-0 win over Japan at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as they claimed the bronze medal.

"Japan are definitely stronger than France."

Both defensive midfielder Simone Laudehr and Kim Kulig face suspension if they pick up another yellow card, while defender Linda Bresonik is back fit after stomach problems before the France game.

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