Germany must improve for old rivals England
The three-time World Cup winners managed a meagre 1-0 win over Ghana in their final Group D match on Wednesday to move top of their group and set up a mouth-watering encounter with England, a repeat of so many memorable past World Cup matches.
"We know what a great match England versus Germany is," said captain Philipp Lahm. "It is a World Cup highlight. But we must play better. We must improve our defensive operation."
Germany had to soak up waves of Ghanaian attacks who lacked, however, any clinical finish.
It is unlikely to be the same against England in Bloemfontein, buoyed by their 1-0 win over Slovenia, that saw them advance after a poor start to the tournament.
"They have great players, world-class players and it will be an extremely difficult opponent," Lahm said.
Germany's defence will have far more work than they had on Wednesday, with England striker Wayne Rooney looking sharper in their last match even if he is yet to make his mark in this tournament.
The Germans, with their youngest World Cup squad in 76 years, will be out to improve on their record against England which currently stands at 10 German victories, six draws and 15 defeats in 31 encounters stretching back to 1908.
"We all know what these matches are about," Germany striker Lukas Podolski told Reuters. "Today we did not have our tempo and pace but we will look sharper against England."
Germany coach Joachim Low will have striker Miroslav Klose back for that match after he sat out his one-match suspension for a red card.
But his playmaker Bastian Schweinsteiger, arguably the cornerstone of Low's team, is doubtful after picking up a muscle injury late in the game against Ghana.
"We have a very young squad and many playing are playing a World Cup for the first time so it was great to go through the fire tonight and from now it is win it or lose it," Low said.
"But the joy of preparing for England match is huge."