Germany’s Löw warns of second match trap

German coach Joachim Loew has demanded his players stay concentrated to avoid any second-match slip-ups when they play Ghana on Saturday.

Germany's Löw warns of second match trap
Photo: DPA

Germany, who beat Portugal in their first Group H game, have a history of struggling in the second game at major tournaments.

They lost to Serbia in their second group match in South Africa four years ago and in 2002, 1998 and 1994 drew after opening victories. They lost as well at the 2008 European Championships.

"From a mental point of view you have to pay a lot of attention," said Loew on the eve of the Group G match in Fortaleza.

"We saw it in 2008 and 2010 when we lost the second match after winning the first. We don't want this kind of problem again.

"Italy has just seen it against Costa Rica and the Netherlands struggled as well against Australia. It's great to win the first match but you have to continue. One victory is not enough, you have to keep your concentration."

Loew said that Ghana, who lost their first game 2-1 against the United States, would be playing for their lives.

"For them it is a final. If they lose it will be nearly over. They are going to fight until the end. They are strong, they are athletic. They attack, they have a lot of players at very good clubs, we know them well.

"Even if it is very hot, they are going to run for 90 minutes," warned Loew.

Victory for Germany on Saturday would virtually assure them of a second round place. Portugal play the United States in their second match on Sunday.

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Sweden into World Cup semis after ending German hoodoo

Stina Blackstenius scored the winner as Sweden came from behind to stun old rivals Germany on Saturday and set up a women's World Cup semi-final against the Netherlands.

Sweden into World Cup semis after ending German hoodoo
Photo: AP Photo/David Vincent/TT

Sweden had not beaten Germany at a major women's tournament since the 1995 World Cup, failing to win any of their subsequent meetings at World Cups, European Championships and Olympics in almost quarter of a century.

That run included defeats in the 2003 World Cup final and the gold medal match at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but they gained revenge in Rennes, coming from behind to win their quarter-final 2-1.

Lina Magull had given Germany a 16th-minute lead with a fine finish from a Sara Däbritz assist, but the excellent Sofia Jakobsson equalised soon after on a hot evening in Brittany.

The winner arrived three minutes after half-time, with Blackstenius prodding home the rebound after Almuth Schult had saved a Fridolina Rolfö header.

Despite bringing on star player Dszenifer Marozsan, who had missed the
previous three games with a broken toe, Germany remained blunt as the clock
ticked down.

Blackstenius had scored Sweden's winner against Canada in the last round and also netted against the Germans in that Olympic final defeat in 2016.

“We have talked about the possibilities here for us to go far and win every game,” said a bullish Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson.

“There's not a single mitochondria in us that's content. We're going to go for it.”

The Germans will now be deprived of the chance to defend their Olympic title, with defeat here meaning they fail to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games. Sweden will join the Netherlands and Great Britain — who have qualified thanks to England's World Cup run — at the Games instead.

“We are now qualified for the Olympics. That is one thing that has been hanging over our heads for a while,” said Gerhardsson.

Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg told ARD: “The defeat hurts, but we are in a process. We will grow from this experience.”

Sweden go on to a semi-final encounter with the Dutch in Lyon on Wednesday, and they will have a score to settle there too, having lost to the Netherlands at Euro 2017.

The 'Oranje' went on to win that tournament and have coped well in France with their status as reigning European champions.

The tournament now switches for the closing stages to Lyon — home to Europe's top women's club side — with holders the United States and England facing off in the first semi-final on Tuesday.

Megan Rapinoe's double strike gave the USA a 2-1 win over France on Friday, ending the hosts' dream of winning the trophy on home soil.

England reached their second successive World Cup semi-final with a straightforward 3-0 win over Norway on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Italy lose out to Dutch in bid to reach World Cup semi-finals