Hosts Germany will be confident of booking their place in the quarter finals when they face Sweden in Munich.
Despite a mood of pessimism surrounding the national team before the tournament started, Jurgen Klinsmann’s team have won all three of their games to date and confidence is being exuded from the coach and players.
Klinsmann has targeted a place in the last four as the bare minimum for his team.
“In a crazy football nation like Germany you cannot go out in the last 16 or the quarter-finals,” he said.
“The minimum has to be the last four. If we went out in the last 16 it would be a catastrophe.
“That’s three games and three wins, and we’re obviously very pleased,” Klinsmann added.
“It’s great for our self-confidence, and also because we’re growing as a team.”
However, despite producing some impressive performances in the group stages, Klinsmann is not dismissing the threat posed by Sweden.
“The Swedes are quite an obstacle,” he continued.
“We’ve seen their games at this tournament and we know they’re capable of keeping up with the best teams in the world.
“Now the real World Cup is beginning. It’s going to be very, very hard on Saturday and we’ll have to improve. Sweden deserve our full respect.”
After conceding two goals in their opening match against Costa Rica, Germany have tightened up at the back and, in Miroslav Klose, they have a striker at the top of his game.
The Werder Bremen forward has an impressive nine goals in his last 10 World Cup finals matches, and four in the tournament to date.
“Miroslav Klose is currently showing exactly what he’s made of. The World Cup is a chance to stand out from the crowd and to step up to the next level,” Klinsmann said.
“He’s in his prime, and is unbelievably hungry for goals. We’re all hoping that he’ll get on a roll and carry us through the tournament.”
with a fully-fit squad to choose from, Klinsmann will pick his strongest XI against the Swedes.
That means Borussia Dortmund defender Christoph Metzelder returns for Robert Huth, and talismanic skipper Michael Ballack will retain his place ahead of Tim Borowski.
Sweden, by contrast, won just one of their Group B games and were held to a disappointing goalless draw by Trinidad & Tobago. However, the prospect of facing the hosts has not intimidated Lars Lagerback and his players.
“It’s a little advantage for the German team to be playing at home but the players can handle it,” said Lagerback.
“We have to leave the spectators aside and concentrate on our own match. If we play as we did against England then I will be satisfied.
“I can’t see any Germany weak links but my team is looking good.”
“You have to get fresh again after playing three group matches and now we only have three days of rest.
“The only difference is that we have to be prepared to go to penalties.
“This time, we will decide before the game which players will take the penalties.”
Sweden’s only injury worry is striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who is recovering from a groin strain, but coach Lars Lagerback will probably take a gamble on his fitness.
FC Copenhagen striker Marcus Allback, is expected to return to the bench along with Christian Wilhelmsson.
Lagerback is also expected to keep faith with Mattias Jonson out wide on the right.
The sides have met on 31 previous occasions and with each country recording 12 wins each. However, Sweden have not beaten the Germans since 1978, and in competitive matches, Germany have won six out of the nine games.
Looking at their respective form thus far in the competition, it would be a surprise if Germany don’t extend that record to seven wins out of the last ten matches.
Germany: Jens Lehmann; Arne Friedrich, Christoph Metzelder, Per Mertesacker, Philipp Lahm; Bernd Schneider, Torsten Frings, Michael Ballack, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose.
Sweden: Andreas Isaksson; Olof Mellberg, Teddy Lucic, Erik Edman, Niclas Alexandersson; Tobias Linderoth, Fredrik Ljungberg, Christian Wilhelmsson, Kim Kallstrom; Marcus Allback, Henrik Larsson
Referee: Carlos Simon (Brazil)