Ger­many’s Loew brushes off Bal­lack crit­i­cism

‘I saw the head­lines, but didn’t read more — it re­ally doesn’t in­ter­est me’

Gulf Times Sport - - FOOTBALL -

Ger­many coach Joachim Loew yes­ter­day brushed off sharp crit­i­cism from his former cap­tain Michael Bal­lack in the wake of the coun­try’s dis­mal World Cup per­for­mance. Loew is un­der pres­sure to win to­day’s Na­tions League match away to the Nether­lands in Am­s­ter­dam, and then beat world cham­pi­ons France in Paris next Tues­day. Bal­lack, the Ger­many cap­tain from 2004 to 2010, ramped up the ten­sion this week by say­ing he was “sur­prised” Loew kept his job af­ter his side fin­ished bot­tom of their World Cup group. “Ev­ery­one is wel­come to say what they want, but I’m not in­ter­ested this week, I have other thoughts in my head,” Loew said in re­sponse to Bal­lack’s re­marks. “I saw the head­lines, but didn’t read more — it re­ally doesn’t in­ter­est me.”

Loew made a calm im­pres­sion in yes­ter­day’s press con­fer­ence de­spite need­ing wins over the Dutch and French in a tough Na­tions League group to res­cue his tar­nished rep­u­ta­tion af­ter the World Cup de­ba­cle.

“No, I do not feel any ad­di­tional pres­sure, I’ve been na­tional coach since 2006,” in­sisted Loew. “There have been sit­u­a­tions be­fore in which we have had de­feats and why would I feel more pres­sure in the Na­tions League than at a World Cup?”

Ger­many have not lost to their Dutch neigh­bours for 16 years, a run Loew hopes to main­tain in his 168th in­ter­na­tional as head coach. Hav­ing held the French to a 0-0 draw in Mu­nich last month, Ger­many sit sec­ond in their Na­tions League group, three points be­hind lead­ers France and one ahead of the last-placed Dutch.

“Ob­vi­ously, we don’t want to be rel­e­gated from this group, in fact we want to win it,” added Loew.

Prepa­ra­tions for both away in­ter­na­tion­als were dis­rupted last week­end by a raft of with­drawals, in­clud­ing that of chief play­maker Marco Reus, who is side­lined by a knee in­jury.

Wor­ry­ingly for Loew, Bay­ern Mu­nich are win­less in their last four games af­ter suf­fer­ing a dip in form, which does not bode well for Ger­many’s de­fence. Bay­ern goal­keeper Manuel Neuer, plus cen­tre-backs Mats Hum­mels and Jerome Boateng — Ger­many’s axis in de­fence — have strug­gled in re­cent weeks.

How­ever, Loew is set to turn to the trio, as well as Thomas Mueller, who has also been short of form, in Am­s­ter­dam. “Thomas Mueller will play right from the start, the Bay­ern play­ers have made a good im­pres­sion this week,” said Loew. “The four guys have ex­pe­ri­enced so many pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive things. They are frus­trated for a day or two (af­ter de­feat), but they can switch back quickly. They were very mo­ti­vated. I ab­so­lutely trust these play­ers and the axis (Neuer, Boateng and Hum­mels) is very im­por­tant.”

(Reuters)

Ger­many coach Joachim Loew smiles dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in Am­s­ter­dam yes­ter­day.

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