Arsenal’s Per Mertesacker says that his Germany side are not taking Ghana for granted, ahead of their World Cup clash on Saturday in Fortaleza, in which he is set to earn his 100th international cap.
Germany go into their second group game coming off an emphatic 4-0 win over Portugal, but Mertesacker is wary of the physical threat posed by an African outfit looking to bounce back from their late 2-1 opening loss to the USA.
‘I think African teams in general play very physically. They also have an incredible strength in one-on-one situations,’ he said.
‘I think that is part of their mentality. They are very dangerous so we have to play very, very clever tactically. We should try to avoid those one-on-one fights.’
The imposing centre-back also warned of complacency after the Portugal result, alluding to the 1-0 defeat to Serbia four years ago in South Africa.
‘I think the second game of the 2010 World Cup against Serbia should definitely be a warning for us,’ he added. ‘In fact, I believe that in the last two tournaments we won the first game clearly and then lost the second game.
‘That should really be a warning for us and we should know what we are supposed to do. For Ghana it will be like a final.
'They know that and they will be running for 90 minutes and will try to play their physical game. We have to try and make them play our game.’
Having originally signed for the Gunners from Werder Bremen in August 2011, Mertesacker’s 2013-14 season at the Emirates was one which earned him many plaudits - he helped the club end their nine-year trophy drought with victory in the FA Cup final over Hull City.
A veteran of two previous World Cup campaigns, the 29-year-old has been a mainstay of the German lineup over the years, under both Jurgen Klinsmann and Joachim Low, with his imminent century of international appearances proving his worth to the side.
After coming close to international tournament success on several occasions since 2006, the opening win will no doubt instil some belief that this summer could be the one in which Die Mannschaft finally add a fourth World Cup title to their collection, but Mertesacker and his teammates will first have to prove that it was no fluke by dispatching their other Group G rivals.