Hot and humid weather in Brazil's northeast is a concern for the Netherlands, with players working hard to get used to the tough conditions for their clash against Mexico in the World Cup round of 16 match, coach Louis van Gaal said on Saturday.
"I was here a year ago and it was hotter then. Even so, the humidity is so high, it will affect the match and that is the reason we tried to get the players to be as fit as possible," Van Gaal said at a news conference at the Castelao arena ahead of the match on Sunday.
"I'm quite conscious that it will also affect the Mexican team and I know they're much more used to it than we are."
Temperatures in Fortaleza have been hovering between 25-30 degrees Celsius the past several weeks, compared to lower temperatures in Rio de Janeiro, where the Dutch team has been practicing, and Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre, where it played its two most recent matches.
"Of course it's hot, it's very hot. It's a lot hotter than in Rio and the other cities that we played," midfielder Leroy Fer said at the news conference. "But the other teams are also affected. We feel we are well prepared."
Fer will sit out the match against Mexico, Van Gaal added, while Bruno Martins Indi is still recovering and will stay on the bench as a potential substitute.
WE MUST IMPROVE: LOEW
Germany can play much better than they did in the group phase of the World Cup with the team needing to improve its finishing, coach Joachim Loew told reporters at the team's base camp in a remote resort on the Atlantic coast.
"A World Cup is a marathon and not a 100-metre dash where you go all out at the start with the best-possible performance - that'll backfire," said Loew.
"As we've seen in some other tournaments, teams win their first three matches and then it's all over in the fourth match. A team needs to improve their performance through the course of a tournament. That's the art that a team needs to master."
Germany face Algeria in Porto Alegre on Monday in the Round of 16 as the tournament enters its knockout phase.
"We haven't gone to the limit yet. But that's alright at this stage. Now we're in the knock-out round and have to step it up when it comes to some of the finer points of our game."
Loew was pleased with the way his team, one of the top title favourites, won top spot in their group with wins against Portugal and the United States, and a draw against Ghana.
He said an emphasis on adapting to the hot South American climate conditions and unusual afternoon match scheduling paid off.
BELGIUM SEEKS RECOVERY
Belgium is hoping for a quick recovery over the weekend from first choice defenders Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen, as they remain doubtful for their World Cup match against the United States on Tuesday.
Anthony Vanden Borre was ruled out of the tournament on Friday after a scan revealed a crack in his fibula (calf bone) and back-up defender Laurent Ciman and midfielder Mousa Dembele also missed training on Saturday as the team prepared for their last 16 match in Salvador.
Vanden Borre will be out for at least six weeks, said coach Marc Wilmots in a tweet.
His fellow right back Ciman has an adductor strain while Dembele did not train as a preventative measure after complaining of tightness in his muscles.
Captain Kompany missed Thursday's last group match against South Korea, where Wilmots made wholesale changes after the Belgians had already secured qualification, and also sat out training at their team base in Mogi das Cruzes on Friday.
Kompany continues to be troubled by a groin problem which Wilmots said he hoped would improve with rest over the weekend.
Vermaelen has a hamstring strain and did not train on Saturday.
"I'm happy we have had an extra day's rest because we won our group," said Wilmots, whose team would have played on Monday rather than Tuesday had they finished runners-up in Group H.
"We still have four days. I hope most of them will be fit then."