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U.S. team expects stiff World Cup test

March 26, 2002 at 1:25 PM

ROSTOCK, Germany, March 26 (UPI) -- Three-time World Cup champion Germany takes on the United States soccer team Wednesday in a World Cup tune-up that American Coach Bruce Arena says will pay

some dividends down the road.

While the once-mighty Germans had a difficult time qualifying for the World Cup, the U.S. has been in good shape all year, logging a superb record of 6-1-2.

The test match will be a good opportunity to see where both sides are headed.

"We look forward to the game," Arena said. That'll be our most difficult opponent and certainly a good test for us. This type of opponent under this type of conditions will help us in preparation for the World Cup."

Arena is still trying to figure out what his most competitive lineup might look like. No major injuries bother the coach, it's the stressful traveling that worries him most.

For Germany, the situation is quite different. Up to 14 players are either injured or have given a rest, allowing Coach Rudi Voeller to take a closer look at his reserves.

The most prominent absentees are youngsters Sebastian Deisler, who has just returned from a severe knee injury, defender Jens Nowotny and goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, both of whom "just need some time off."

Germany comes off a thrilling 7-1 rout of Israel last month, while the U.S. performed well in a 1-0 loss against powerful Italy. Arena believes Germany will not take the U.S. lightly.

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