Belgium wary of Germans
Marc Wilmots (AFP)
Cape Town - Belgium secured passage to the knock-out stage of the World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Russia Sunday but hope to make history - and do themselves a favour - with another win over South Korea on Thursday.
Never before have Belgium won all three group matches at a World Cup, a record which is in their sights against the Koreans.
But even avoiding defeat in that match would ensure they top the group and, in all probability, avoid a tough clash with Germany in the last 16. "If possible we will try to avoid Germany," said defender Daniel van Buyten, who plays his club football in that country with Bayern Munich. "I think everyone who knows a little about football would not like to play against Germany," he added.
"For me they are one of the favourites in this tournament. Belgium, with a star-studded squad, were also tipped by many to make a good impression on the competition. But despite winning both games so far, they have not yet found top form.
"We cannot show champagne football every time," said coach Marc Wilmots. All three of Belgium's goals have come from substitutes - showing strength in depth but also hinting that the strongest starting eleven has not been found.
Germany met Belgium in the last 16 of the 1994 World Cup and progressed to the quarter-finals with a 3-2 victory.
While some in the Belgian camp are anxious to avoid a rematch 20 years later, others are in a more bullish mood.
"We know that Germany has a really good team but we fear no one," said Kevin de Bruyne.