Football: Vogts takes hard line

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THE Germany coach, Berti Vogts, wants to see his players step up a level in today's World Cup warm-up match against Colombia after their disappointing 0-0 draw with Finland on Wednesday night.

The team's lacklustre performance, rounding off several days of training in the Finnish capital, was widely criticised in the German press. Vogts said the players could not afford another showing like that.

"Colombia are of a different calibre," he said. "I'll be interested to see how far we've progressed, to see how much we can put our opponents under pressure. I expect a clear improvement from Helsinki."

Vogts also urged fans and reporters not to read too much into the Finland match, saying that although the Germans were poor it was too early in the build-up to draw conclusions.

The coach is deprived of defender Thomas Helmer, who has a torn muscle, for today's game in Frankfurt but still hopes Jurgen Klinsmann may recover from a bruised shin to play at least the second half against the South American side.

Vogts plans to make several changes from Wednesday's team. Olaf Thon will return to the libero position, taking over from Lothar Matthaus who celebrated his international comeback against the Finns after an absence of more than three years. However, the veteran Bayern Munich player could still find himself in the starting line-up to give more bite in midfield. Milan's Christian Ziege and Borussia Dortmund's Stefan Reuter will return to the wing-back positions.

The Colombians, who drew 2-2 with Scotland last Saturday in their most recent warm-up match, are playing down their chances of beating the three- times World Cup winners.

"We haven't made World Cup history," their coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, said. "That's what separates us from the great teams." The goalkeeper Farid Mondragon also said Colombia would not underestimate the task just because of the Finland result. "It's quite normal that teams don't play at the top level before a World Cup," he said.

Germany and Colombia have met only once before, drawing 1-1 in the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy. One member of the German squad in those days, central defender Jurgen Kohler, will win his 100th cap today.

Spain's goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta has a pulled muscle in his left leg and will miss the World Cup warm-up match against Northern Ireland in Santander on Wednesday. But the 36-year-old could recover in time for Spain's first group match of the finals against Nigeria on 13 June in Nantes.