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Germany must raise the bar against Portugal: Loew

Play-maker Schweinsteiger scored two goals to sink the Portuguese in the third-place play off at the last World Cup.
By HT Correspondent | AFP, Tenero, Switzerland
UPDATED ON JUN 17, 2008 04:00 PM IST

Coach Joachim Loew is pleased Germany are in the Euro 2008 knock-out phase, but insisted on Tuesday they must raise their game against quarter-final opponents Portugal on Thursday.

Loew's side beat Austria 1-0 in Vienna on Monday, thanks to a free-kick from captain Michael Ballack, to qualify as Group B runners-up as Germany bounced back from last week's shock 2-1 defeat by Croatia.

But they now face Group A winners Portugal in Basel and Loew says his side have to start producing a much higher standard if they are to knockout the Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portuguese and make the semi-finals.

"If we want to reach our target and win the next game, we have to get to the level we have sometimes reached over the last two years," said Loew, who had berated his side's lacklustre performance against Croatia.

The Germany boss has been clearly frustrated by his under-performing team and was sent to the stands along along with Austrian coach Josef Hickersberger after the pair got involved in a pitch-side argument in Vienna.

"I feel good and am content with the victory," he said having watched the second-half in the stands.

"The team spirit's showed a 100 percent improvement.

"We were under enormous pressure, but I am pleased the team played with hunger and emotion."

And Germany football legend Franz Beckenbauer, who won the World Cup as both a coach and player, said he felt the national side were getting back to their best, but would have to turn in a better showing to beat Portugal

He said: "The game against the Croats threw the team a bit off course.

"Against Austria, somethings went well, somethings didn't.

"The team are still not fluid and are playing with some restraint.

"The match with Portugal will be a big test and a genuine challenge."

And forward Lukas Podolski, who looks set to partner Bayern Munich team-mate Miroslav Klose up front at the expense of the misfiring Mario Gomez, says there is more to come from the Germans.

"We can play better still," said Podolski, who has scored three goals so far in the tournament.

"The main thing is that we are in the quarter-finals.

"Also Portugal will have respect for us. I expect an open game."

Having been Germany's stars of the 2006 World Cup, Podolski and Bayern colleague Bastian Schweinsteiger - who served a one-match ban against Austria - are expected to both start against Portugal.

Play-maker Schweinsteiger scored two goals to sink the Portuguese in the third-place play off at the last World Cup.

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