Euro 2016: Inspired Loew ready to face hosts France in semis clash
The host nation’s bulging euphoria over France’s Euro 2016 semifinal qualification is added motivation for Germany as they prepare to face them on Thursday, coach Joachim Loew said on Monday.euro 2016 Updated: Jul 05, 2016 11:11 IST
The host nation’s bulging euphoria over France’s Euro 2016 semifinal qualification is added motivation for Germany as they prepare to face them on Thursday, coach Joachim Loew said on Monday.
The Germans, who will need to shuffle their lineup due to injuries to Sami Khedira and Mario Gomez and the suspension of defender Mats Hummels, are preparing to face a team brimming with confidence.
“Such games are just great,” Loew, who led Germany to the 2014 World Cup title in Brazil, told reporters.
His team reached the last four after an agonising penalty shootout win over Italy on Saturday.
“It is motivation for us, this euphoria. In Brazil it was similar in the (2014 World Cup) semifinals with a country of 200 million people. But we did it quite well against them.”
Germany did much more than that, crushing the hosts 7-1 in Belo Horizonte in an extraordinary semifinal, leaving millions of Brazilians in a state of shock.
“We did it well then and we will do it well this time again,” Loew said.
The French secured their lastfour spot with a 5-2 demolition of Iceland on Sunday, scoring four times in the first half to dash any hopes for the tournament’s surprise team.
“France had an outstanding game yesterday although they did struggle a bit at the start of the tournament, scoring late and winning the games like that,” Loew said.
“They are the absolute favourites with a home advantage and yesterday they tanked on confidence,” the 56-yearold said.“But that does not matter at all over 90 or 120 minutes. It is like it was against Italy: a game of two teams without standing individuals. Both have a clear direction, even if France naturally plays offensively. I love games like this.”
Loew was very clear that Bastian Schweinsteiger, who has a strained knee, will only face France if fully fit.
The Manchester United star had only recently recovered from tearing the me dial ligament in his right knee in March.
“If a player is less than 100 per cent fit, then I won’t play him,” said Loew. “I made that mistake once before in my career and I won’t do it again.”
Loew refused to be drawn about the mistake he referred to — passing it off from earlier in his career as a club coach. But he has been in this situation before with Germany. Loew played Michael Ballack in the Euro 2008 final, when Germany were beaten 1-0 by Spain, when the defensive midfielder was carrying a calf injury.
With Gomez sidelined by a torn thigh, Bayern Munich pair Thomas Mueller and Mario Goetze are t he most likely options to feature up front against France. With Khedira out with a partially tor n groin and Schweinsteiger doubtful with a knee s t rain, Loew has a bigger problem to resolve in t he defensive midfield. Liverpool’s Emre Can or Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Weigl are the most likely candidates to partner Toni Kroos in Marseille.
Loew was clear t hat Joshua Kimmich, Germany’s 21-year-old hero in Bordeaux for converting one of the spotkicks in the shoot-out marathon, will stay at right-back, even though he is a defensive midfielder.