Vogts must cope without Strunz

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The Independent Online
Germany's squad for Saturday's tricky World Cup qualifier in Portugal was hit by another withdrawal yesterday when the versatile Bayern Munich midfielder Thomas Strunz pulled out with influenza.

The late withdrawal is a blow to the European champions, who will also be without the midfielders Mehmet Scholl and Thomas Hassler, defender Thomas Helmer, reserve goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and striker Oliver Bierhoff - the hero of the Euro 96 final - in Lisbon. The squad, which is due to fly to Portugal tomorrow, has been reduced to 19.

The Portuguese have a special place in the history of German football. They are the only team ever to have beaten the Germans in a World Cup qualifier, winning 1-0 in Stuttgart in October 1985. The Germans have not lost to the Portuguese since and beat them 2-1 in a friendly in Porto in February.

The libero Matthias Sammer and wing-back Christian Ziege, who missed Germany's frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Northern Ireland last month, are now available. Bayern Munich's in-form midfielder Mario Basler, who was part of the Euro 96 squad but did not make an impact because of injury, can now expect to be given an important role in midfield.

The superb form of the Bayer Leverkusen striker Ulf Kirsten in the first half of the season has been rewarded with a place in the squad, but VfB Stuttgart's Fredi Bobic is expected to join the captain, Jurgen Klinsmann, up front.

Spain have an injury crisis in midfield prior to Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Yugoslavia in Valencia. With Atletico Madrid's Jose Luis Caminero already out, the Spanish coach, Javier Clemente, is now faced with losing Real Madrid's Fernando Hierro and Athletic Bilbao's Julen Guerrero.

Hierro, an automatic choice in Spain's midfield or defence for the past six years, limped off in Saturday's league game against Barcelona. With Guerrero nursing four stitches in a leg wound, there could a be starting role for Roberto Rios of Real Betis. Deportivo La Coruna's Armando Alvarez has also been called up.