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Germany's Skibbe convinced U.S. won't win

© Reuters 2002

SOGWIPO, South Korea, June 19 (Reuters) - Assistant Germany coach Michael Skibbe has little doubt that Germany will overcome the United States on Friday to advance to the semi-finals of the World Cup. "We have all due respect for America but we have a stronger team and I'm therefore convinced that we will beat them," Skibbe said on Wednesday.

Coach Rudi Voeller's deputy said the U.S. team were not unlike Paraguay, whom the triple world champions struggled to beat 1-0 in the second round on Saturday.

"There are similarities with Paraguay," he said. "They are also well organised in defence, in particular with Tony Sanneh and Eddie Pope, who are both useful on high balls. "They have fast strikers, too. I was impressed with Brian McBride. They're very good on counter-attacks and we'll have to be a bit more careful than we were against Paraguay."

Germany have an advantage for Friday's quarter-final game in Ulsan as they will have had two more days to regenerate. "All the players in the squad are fit and hungry for success," said Skibbe, who announced that defender Christoph Metzelder could resume full training after nursing a sore right ankle. "They all share the same goal."

The Germans can turn to recent history for inspiration, having beaten the U.S. team 4-2 in a friendly last March in Rostock, Germany, but they also suffered embarrassing 3-0 and 2-0 defeats to the same opponents in 1999.

However confident, Skibbe said he was aware of his team's limitations and warned not to expect a festival of attacking football from kick-off.

"We don't have enough quality to play at a high pace for 90 minutes," he said. "We will have to be patient." Skibbe refused to drop any hints over Germany's line-up, saying only that top striker Miroslav Klose would start up front while strongly suggesting that Liverpool's Dietmar Hamann, who was suspended against Paraguay, would be back at the centre of midfield.

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