Loew must free up blitzkrieg
Coach has much to prove with his powerful German machine
COACH Joachim Loew goes to Euro 2012 with a job guarantee, having guided Germany to runner-up at Euro 2008 and third at the 2010 Fifa World Cup. But only victory in the Kiev final will enhance his status here.
Having taken over as head coach in 2006, Loew knows his job is safe until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, regardless of results at the European Championships in Ukraine and Poland.
Germany are among the favourites to lift the title having qualified with 10 wins from 10, but 52-yearold Loew needs to finally claim a major title after going close twice.
“We all agree that in Loew and [team manager Oliver] Bierhoff we have the best pair possible,” said Wolfgang Niersbach, the president of the German Football Federation.
“They both do excellent jobs and so we see no reason to change a winning formula.
“If we have to suffer disappointment, we are strong enough to stand up and face it.”
Despite his impressive 52 wins in 76 internationals with 13 draws and 11 defeats in six years, Loew needs the Euro 2012 crown to be considered one of his country’s top coaches and with the German public craving their first title for 16 years.
Other than a title, his record compares favourably with Germany’s legendary coaches Franz Beckenbauer, who coached the 1990 World Cup winners, and Berti Vogts, whose side won Euro 96.
As a player, Loew, who hails from Germany’s Black Forest near the Swiss border, turned out for Second Division Freiburg in three separate stints. He went into management in 1995 and coached Stuttgart to the 1997 German Cup title.
Spells with Turkey’s Fenerbahce and Adanaspor plus Austria’s Vienna and Innsbruck followed before Jurgen Klinsmann brought Loew into the Germany setup as assistant coach in 2004. He succeeded Klinsmann two years later.
An astute tactician, Loew is neither afraid to give youth a chance nor jettison high-profile veterans and has injected pace into Germany’s attack.
His first criteria for selection is form, as ex-captain Michael Ballack, 35, discovered in 2010 when back-to-back injuries saw the former Chelsea star swiftly dropped.
Another factor, though, may have been the pair’s public spat two years earlier, when Ballack accused Loew of not showing his senior players enough loyalty.
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who turns 34 on the day of Germany’s Euro opener against Portugal on June 9, has little to fear of a repeat this time round after top scoring in the qualifying stages.
Last week, Loew brought in Schalke 04 midfielder Julian Draxler, to his provisional squad, despite the 18-year-old still being at school, while Mario Goetze will only turn 20 on June 3.
Germany’s former reputation of ruthless efficiency has been replaced by fleet-footed attack, with Loew playing a single striker upfront supported by pace on the flanks.
It was in South Africa two years ago when Loew’s young side made the world sit up and take notice.
The Germans ran riot in the World Cup knockout stages beating England 4-1 in the round of 16.
Diego Maradona’s Argentina were then dispatched 4-0 in the quarterfinals as the pace of Mesut Ozil and Thomas Mueller out wide proved devastating before Spain halted their march in the last four.
Germany carried their South Africa form into their flawless Euro 2012 qualifying campaign while friendly wins over Brazil, in August, and Holland, last November, underlined their status as favourites.
February’s home defeat to France, however, exposed defensive frailties, which could yet be their downfall. — SAPA-AFP