Football / World Cup USA '94: Time to deliver for vexed Vogts

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The Independent Online
BERTIE VOGTS, like many in his profession, is a man under pressure. Germany's coach knows that his job security is likely to be short-lived if he fails to guide his side past Belgium in Chicago today, in the tournament's first

second-round tie.

Vogts has been under fire after a series of disappointing displays in their opening Group C games. Vogts must inspire an improved display against Belgium to safeguard his position, and book a German ticket to the quarter-finals in New York on 10 July.

'We have drawn a firm line under the first round. We know we must play better and we want to go to New York,' Vogts said. 'We can't afford to make the mistakes we have made in the first round. We are capable of beating them. I can see in training that the players are getting ready. We are going to play attacking football.'

Vogts is keeping his team under wraps but is likely to move Thomas Berthold into midfield to replace the disgraced Stefan Effenberg, who was sent home after making an offensive gesture to fans during their victory over South Korea. Thomas Helmer is expected to take Berthold's place in defence beside Jurgen Kohler, while Lothar Matthaus is confident of overcoming a foot injury to play sweeper.

Belgium plunged to third in Group F after their 1-0 defeat by Saudi Arabia and have to fly to Chicago and play again after only two days' rest - three days less than they had anticipated - and without their striker, Marc Degryse, who suffered a groin strain against the Saudis.

The short turn-around may hurt them most. 'We are used to that in Europe, though, with the midweek games,' the Belgian coach, Paul van Himst, said. 'After the bad result, I'm counting on a big reaction. I am satisfied that we qualified, but we have made the job difficult for ourselves.'

History is on Spain's side as they seek to reach the quarter- finals for the first time since 1986, against Switzerland at Washington's RFK Stadium today. The Spanish, unbeaten in their three Group C matches, have won all but three of their 17 meetings with the Swiss, dating back to 1925.

Spain helped send the Swiss home early with a 2-1 win in 1966, Switzerland's last appearance at the World Cup. They last reached the quarter-finals in 1954, when they hosted the tournament.

However, Spain will be without their suspended midfielder, Jose Luis Caminero. Their coach, Javier Clemente, is likely to recall Fernando Hierro and Rafael Alkorta. He said Hierro, who has a bruised thigh, was expected to be fit enough to play, but was more doubtful about Alkorta's calf strain.

The veteran goalkeeper, Andoni Zubizarreta, who has just moved from Barcelona to Valencia, could be replaced by Jose Luis Canizares.

He said he believed Switzerland were a much-improved team since being taken over by Englishman Roy Hodgson.

The Swiss looked drained as they went down 2-0 in their last Group A game against Colombia, but they have the advantage of an extra rest day over Spain. 'That's good, because four games in two weeks under extreme conditions are a huge strain,' Hodgson said. He is expected to name an unchanged line-up. 'No matter how the game against Spain turns out, we can return to Switzerland with our heads high,' he added.

In tomorrow's two second- round games, Saudi Arabia meet Sweden in Dallas and Romania play the Maradona-less Argentina in Pasadena. 'That's not my concern,' Romania's coach, Anghel Iordanescu, said, when asked about Maradona, Argentina's fallen idol. 'I'll concentrate on the players they have here, not the ones they don't have.'