EURO 2016 Ger­man coach: ‘I’m not wor­ried’ about the French

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

DE­SPITE a mount­ing in­jury list, Ger­many coach Joachim Loew is rel­ish­ing fac­ing the Euro 2016 hosts in July 7’s semi-fi­nal un­der the motto, “Bring on France”. “It’s great that there’s a game like this. I love play­ing knock-out games against teams of this cal­i­bre,” said Loew in Evian yes­ter­day.

Loew’s cause for op­ti­mism over the Mar­seille semi-fi­nal is not ob­vi­ous with three key play­ers def­i­nitely ruled out, while cap­tain Bas­tian Sch­we­in­steiger is doubt­ful with a new knee in­jury.

Ger­many have de­fender Mats Hum­mels sus­pended while Mario Gomez and Sami Khedira are out with in­jury. Gomez will miss the rest of the tour­na­ment.

As Loew ac­knowl­edged, France were buoyed by the 5-2 ham­mer­ing of min­nows Ice­land in their quar­ter-fi­nal on July 3.

And the hosts can ex­pect near fa­nat­i­cal sup­port in Mar­seille, the heart­land of the na­tion’s die-hard fans.

Nev­er­the­less, Loew shows lit­tle con­cern as Ger­many rest up af­ter July 2’s tense quar­ter-fi­nal penalty shootout win over Italy.

“I’m not wor­ried about who the favourite is,” said Ger­many’s head coach.

“It would be easy to say that we have a few in­juries and France are favourites as they played re­ally well.

“But that does not mat­ter at all over 90 or 120 min­utes.

“It is like it was against Italy: a game of two teams with out­stand­ing in­di­vid­u­als.

“Both have a clear di­rec­tion, even if France nat­u­rally plays of­fen­sively. I love games like this.”

Loew was very clear that Sch­we­in­steiger, who has a strained knee, will only face France if fully fit.

The Manch­ester United star had only re­cently re­cov­ered from tear­ing the me­dial lig­a­ment in his right knee in March.

“If a player is less than 100 per­cent fit, then I won’t play him,” said Loew.

“I made that mis­take once be­fore in my ca­reer and I won’t do it again.”

Loew re­fused to be drawn about the mis­take he re­ferred to – pass­ing it off from ear­lier in his ca­reer as a club coach.

But he has been in this sit­u­a­tion be­fore with Ger­many.

Loew played Michael Bal­lack in the Euro 2008 fi­nal, when Ger­many were beaten 1-0 by Spain, when the de­fen­sive mid­fielder was car­ry­ing a calf in­jury.

With Gomez side­lined by a torn thigh, Bay­ern Mu­nich pair Thomas Mueller and Mario Goetze are the most likely op­tions to fea­ture up front against France. Loew says both could even start. “It would be an op­tion [to start Mueller up front], but per­haps we’ll play with two strik­ers. I still have to weigh things up,” he said.

With Khedira out with a par­tially torn groin and Sch­we­in­steiger doubt­ful with a knee strain, Loew has a big­ger prob­lem to re­solve in the de­fen­sive mid­field.

Liver­pool’s Emre Can or Borus­sia Dort­mund’s Ju­lian Weigl are the most likely can­di­dates to part­ner Toni Kroos in Mar­seille.

Loew was clear that Joshua Kim­mich, Ger­many’s 21-year-old hero in Bordeaux for con­vert­ing one of the spot-kicks in the shoot-out marathon, will stay at right-back, even though he is a de­fen­sive mid­fielder.

“That is not some­thing to con­sider,” said Loew.

“Joshua Kim­mich has al­ways played for us in that po­si­tion [right­back].

“It was an op­tion to move him there dur­ing the Italy match, if I had had to, but not for the game against France. I have other mid­field op­tions.” –

Photo: AFP

Ger­many coach Joachim Loew ad­dresses the press on July 4.

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