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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Football

Experimental line-up no disrespect to England: Loew
AFP
London, November 18, 2013
First Published: 21:15 IST(18/11/2013)
Last Updated: 21:24 IST(18/11/2013)
Germany coach Joachim Loew smiles during a press conference in London ahead of their international friendly against England at Wembley Stadium. (AP Photo)

Germany coach Joachim Loew said on Monday that his decision to field an experimental line-up in Tuesday's friendly against England at Wembley Stadium is not a sign of disrespect.

Loew sent goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and captain Philipp Lahm back to Germany following Friday's 1-1 draw with Italy in Milan, while Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil is not expected to feature either.

Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller will win his first cap and Loew confirmed that Marcel Schmelzer, Per Mertesacker, Sven Bender and Marco Reus would all start.

He also revealed that he was toying with the idea of giving Bayern Munich centre-back Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels of Dortmund 45 minutes each alongside Mertesacker in central defence.

"It was clear for me that I'd use these two matches against Italy and England to try out new players in key positions, and what better test for these up-and-coming players than to play to a partisan crowd of 80,000 English fans spurring their team on?" Loew told a press conference in central London on Monday.

"It was clear to me that I needed to experiment a bit and send home some of the players that for us are firmly established.

"It was a deliberate acid test for these young, up-and-coming players, and it's definitely not the case that we're fielding a 'B team' as any lack of respect towards our hosts.

"Let me remind you that in 2008 we hosted England in November in Berlin and England played without (Wayne) Rooney, (Steven) Gerrard, or (Frank) Lampard and beat us 2-1, so there's no such thing as a B or an A team for us."

Germany crushed England 4-1 when the sides last met at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and are eight places above England in the current FIFA ranking, but Loew says that Roy Hodgson's side are still a major force.

"England have been and always will be one of the big footballing nations, if you ask me," he said.

"Looking in from the outside, you can always say Lampard, Rooney, Gerrard are players of elite calibre with a world of experience behind them.

"There is Andros Townsend, very quick, very dynamic. The defensive wide players are impressive, so England have nothing to fear in that department.

"Roy Hodgson is a fantastic coach. I first knew him when I was playing in Switzerland. Wherever he's gone, he left the most positive of marks - for example, he successfully introduced the 4-4-2 system to the Swiss, and they have adapted it perfectly.

"England may be tactically different from Italy, but they're still playing with tremendous force, they have tackling power, and they have a dynamic approach to the game.

"And they have individual players who can decide a game on their own if need be."

Loew said that he had no new injury concerns to report, but he lamented the knee ligament injury sustained by Sami Khedira against Italy that will keep the Real Madrid midfielder out of action for around six months.

"Everything's slightly overshadowed by the bad news of Sami Khedira's injury," he said.

"The doctors have assured us that the operation went well though, and if anyone's capable of coming back from such a serious injury and playing at a World Cup, it's Sami Khedira.

"He's a natural-born fighter, it's in his spirit, and we'll just have to be optimistic, just like he is."


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