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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014

Football

Brazil 2014 or bust for Loew and Germany
AFP
Warsaw, June 29, 2012
First Published: 23:50 IST(29/6/2012)
Last Updated: 23:52 IST(29/6/2012)
Standing left to right are Germany team memebers during the Euro 2012 soccer championship semifinal match in Warsaw, Poland. AP Photo/Matthias Schrader

With a contract until the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, coach Joachim Loew has said Germany has a bright future despite their Euro 2012 semi-final exit at the hands of Italy.

German fans may need more convincing after the Azzurri left Germany's European ambitions in tatters in Warsaw on Thursday as striker Mario Balotelli tore up the form book with two first-half goals to seal a 2-1 victory.

It means that by the time they go to Brazil - provided they qualify - it will be 18 years since they won a trophy - the Euro '96 title.

Germany's 15-match winning run in competitive matches was halted by Italy as midfield stars such as Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger found themselves over-shadowed by Italy's Andrea Pirlo and Riccardo Montolivo.

"I have to say we've had two great years," said Loew. "The team has really developed well and we have won 15 games in a row. We lost against an incredibly strong Italian team, so there's not any reason to have any doubts creep in here."

Having hammered England and Argentina en route to finishing third at the 2010 World Cup, the script was seemingly written for Loew's team to take the next step and confirm their status as pre-tournament favourites by winning the Kiev final.

With 57 wins, 13 draws and now 13 defeats from his 83 games in charge, Loew has an enviable record, but pressure remains on the 52-year-old to convert Germany's undeniable potential into final success on the world stage. While reaching the semi-finals for the fourth consecutive time at a major tournament is no mean achievement, Germany's mission had always been to bring the Henri Delaunay trophy back to Berlin and Loew's young team came up short when it mattered most. Qualification for the 2014 World Cup starts in September and after six years in the job, this is arguably Loew's last chance to land a major crown.


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