Germany, Iran look to seal knock-outs berth

When the two clash on Tuesday at the Fatorda stadium, the hope is that they will uncork the bubbly and let the fizz in their play take over. The stakes on offer — the winner will take a giant step towards topping the group — may well nudge them to.

Germany captain Jann-Fiete Arp scored the side's opening goal against Costa Rica.   -  Prashant Nakwe

In spite of their victorious starts to the FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign, neither of the two heavyweights in Group 'C' — Germany and Iran — turned in a tone-setting performance. Iran played well within itself as it beat Guinea while Germany just about edged Costa Rica.

When the two clash on Tuesday at the Fatorda stadium, the hope is that they will uncork the bubbly and let the fizz in their play take over. The stakes on offer — the winner will take a giant step towards topping the group — may well nudge them to.

For that, Germany will have to address more than one area. Against Costa Rica, it didn't convert a slew of chances. Jann-Fiete Arp did score the opener but he could have easily had a hat-trick. The principal creators Elias Abouchabaka and Nicolas Kuehn drifted in and out of the game while the energy-sapping conditions worsened matters.

“Iran have a bit of advantage,” said Germany coach Christian Wuck. “They know the place, the temperature. But if my players are cool and fit, we can score a lot of goals.” The 8 p.m. start may well be a blessing for Germany here.

While Iran did manage the weather expertly against Guinea, the experience of being here in Goa last year for AFC U-16 Championship coming in handy, its game will need to improve. It conceded a lion's share of possession and allowed the opponent a shy at the goal on more than one occasion. The Asian side did sew things up fairly well in the second half, but another slow start against Germany can well be a death-knell.

In the day's other game, a defeat for either Costa Rica or Guinea will mean near-elimination. But on available evidence, Costa Rica should fancy its chances against the West African nation. For Guinea to spring a surprise, it cannot afford to be as inconsistent and wasteful as it was against Iran. Defender Cherif Camara will be missing the game after having been sent off against Iran.