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Seven suffer flu symptoms

Germany have suffered a series of blows ahead of their World Cup quarter-final tie with France, each of them directed into tissues.

The Germans have reported that seven players are laid low with flu symptoms and are doubts to feature at the Maracana tonight.

Shkodran Mustafi has been ruled out of the tournament altogether as the result of a thigh injury, while Joachim Loew was last night given to lament the virus afflicting a third of his squad. The coach acknowledged that Mats Hummels and Christoph Kramer both suffered from similar symptoms earlier in the competition.

Loew was dismissive of any suggestion that he was facing a crisis, however, claiming instead that all of his players were able to train as normal, despite feeling under the weather. "One third of our team were complaining about a sore throat," he said.

"They still have a slight cold but there's no feeling of exhaustion. I hope that we do not have any worsening overnight."

German can at least content themselves that their penalty record remains in rude health. Should they be level with France after extra time tonight then the teams will contest a shoot-out, with the Germans having scored all but one of their last 18 spot-kicks.

"A lot of that has to do with 'Nervenstaerke'," said Andreas Koepke, Germany's goalkeeping coach using a term that means 'strength of nerves' but sounds better in German. "The shooters we have are strong, mentally strong. That's our secret. We know we've got a good chance to win."

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