Joachim Low and Philipp Lahm say Germany fear no one

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Posted Sunday, June 27, 2010 by

Joachim Low and Philipp Lahm say Germany fear no one
Joachim Low talks to the press.

Joachim Low will urge his German side to take the game to England on Sunday, in the hope their youthful zest will overpower more experienced opponents. However, the coach said his team will have to improve on their last performance if they are to progress.

After noting that Japan had surprised everyone by qualifying with a young side playing with "incredible pace", while the ageing French and Italian squads had gone home, Low said Sunday's match would provide a contrast between youth and experience.

"England remain England," he said. "They can fight, they can run, they are mentally strong and incredibly experienced. It's youthful lightness against international class, Germany v England. We're absolutely looking forward to the match."

Low said that one of his more experienced players, Bastian Schweinsteiger, who he described as "almost the heart of the team, the midfield engine", was a "major doubt" for the match. He missed training today, as did Jérôme Boateng.

The rest of the squad came across more than three lions on a trip to a nearby nature reserve, prompting the captain, Philipp Lahm, to say: "It was a bit of a petting zoo, so we had them in our hands. On Sunday, the treatment we give to these lions will definitely be more aggressive than this morning."

His joke hid serious intent. Low will ask his team to increase the tempo of their passing and the precision of their finishing. While there would be respect, he said his players would not fear England. "Germany have never approached any of these games with fear," he said. "There is tension, but it is healthy stage fright. Great respect, yes, but we won't go into hiding or put our heads in the sand. While we have a young team, we will be able to hold our own."

Franz Beckenbauer has made headlines with his criticism of England but Low and Lahm were unstinting in their praise. "The English have a never-say-die attitude and the great fight and commitment they bring to the fore. Despite the high tempo, they have a superb technical level as well," said Löw. "Look at [John] Terry, [Wayne] Rooney, [Frank] Lampard and [Steven] Gerrard. These players are among the best in Europe. England have always had players of international calibre."

Questioned on the footballing history between the two nations, Low said that while he could recall the days of Gerd Müller his players had not been born in 1966 or 1970 and could barely even remember the matches of 1990 and 1996. Lahm added: "The players who are on the pitch were simply too young to witness the matches you are talking about. All I can promise is that the team stepping out on Sunday is mentally well prepared and knows how to play courageous, offensive football."

Low said he had been "very critical" of his players after the 1-0 victory over Ghana that put them through to the second round, but added that he was convinced they would be better for the experience. Miroslav Klose, who missed the Ghana match through suspension, will return to face England and add more cutting edge to their attack.

"Such games are very important, especially for the young players," Low said, "for them to soak up that atmosphere and it is a tremendous relief if you win. The players displayed a great deal of courage and commitment. But you always have in the back of your mind that it's a nail-biter. What if we lose? Sometimes it's natural to do the safe pass, the no-frills thing, to pass it back to the goalkeeper. Whereas I want them to do the daring thing."

Low , who took over the national side immediately after the 2006 World Cup, said he had been trying to fashion a team that could add flair to the traditional German attributes of power, precision and pace.

"We have been working for two years to add these nice things in football to the traditional German values of strength, power and running. I strongly favour attractive football," said Löw.

Germany's defence looked vulnerable against Serbia and Ghana and Lahm said this was an area which they would have to improve. Löw said that Per Mertesacker had displayed "some surprising faults in his technique" against Ghana, but said that the centre-half would play "a key role" against England.

Germany said they had not practised penalties in earnest – England have been preparing every day for such an eventuality. Lahm said that as in the England squad with Joe Hart, the reserve goalkeeper Hans-Jörg Butt was one of the best penalty takers in the German camp.

"One of the best penalty takers in the team is the third goalkeeper, but we have not practised," he said. "Sometimes the lads take the ball for fun and take a few penalties. There will be no shortage of penalty takers, rest assured."

In sharp contrast to England's so-called "golden generation", for whom this World Cup represents a final chance, Lahm said that this German side had plenty ahead of it. "The game against England, win or lose, will bring us one step ahead," he said. "We would, of course, love to win. But we're still developing."

As in England, Lahm said the whole country would come to a standstill to watch the match. "We're very glad to evoke these kinds of emotions in the German population at large. The match will take place on a Sunday afternoon, people will be barbecuing. The whole day will be governed by what happens at 4pm. No one will be in the outdoor pool or riding their bikes, the whole country will be watching it."



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