Germany building up a head of steam
Joachim Loew: Our team is perfectly capable of beating any team in the world
WARSAW, Poland ● Germany coach Joachim Loew has hinted he will instruct his team to raise their second-half tempo in Thursday’s Euro 2012 semi-final against Italy in an attempt to tire out the Azzurri.
The Italians played 120 minutes in Sunday’s quarter-final against England as it finished goalless after extra-time before the Azzurri finally won 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out to set up a semi-final against Loew’s Germans in Warsaw.
Italy have had four days to recover since beating the Three Lions in Kiev on Sunday, while Germany had two days extra following Friday’s 4-2 quarter-final triumph over Greece in Gdansk.
Germany are on a 15-match winning streak in competitive games since losing the 2010 World Cup semi-final to Spain and having brought the youngest of the 16 teams to Euro 2012, Loew said fitness could well play a key role on Thursday.
“Maybe in the second-half we will raise the tempo to make them a little bit more tired, who knows? That might be good for us, I think,” said Loew in Wednesday’s press conference.
Loew said Cesare Prandelli’s Italy deserved their semi-final place having finished stronger against an English side which ran out of steam as their quarter-final wore on.
“We saw that after 60 or 70 minutes, Italy just got stronger and stronger and had their chances,” said Loew.
“In extra-time, Italy were dominant, while England got weaker.
Crown for Golden Generation
In losing the Euro 2008 final to Spain and finishing third at the last two World Cups, the Germans have regularly come tantalisingly close to success in the past six years.
Having made his debut before the failed Euro 2004 campaign, Bastian Schweinsteiger said he has enjoyed being part of Germany’s rise under head coach Joachim Löw with the team currently on a 15-match winning streak in competitive games.
“Since 2005, we have just kept going up and up, we can be happy to have such a good national team,” said the 27-year-old Schweinsteiger, who has made 94 appearances for Germany.
“We don’t have the crown yet, but it is getting closer and closer.
“I couldn’t see any problems with the Italians, they have had four days to recuperate, they will do their best to recover.
“It’s something in the head as well, they won the game and that always gives you more energy.”
Loew said veteran Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo is just one of the key Azzurri players Germany will need to stop in order to beat Italy and book their place in Sunday’s final in Kiev.
“Italy are very good at coming from the back and in (forwards, Antonio) Cassano and (Mario) Balotelli they have class players, but especially with Pirlo,” said Loew.
“He is not just a very good player, he is the one who gives them ideas and tactics.
“He directs their game, we have to disturb these players and stop their radius, we have to try to get in their way and think of ways to do better than them in midfield.
“We have to be in a situation where we can dictate our tempo on the Italians and I think we will be able to do that.”
Having beaten Portugal, Holland, Denmark and Greece en route to the semi-final, Loew says German confidence is sky-high.
“Our team is perfectly capable of beating any team in the world,” said the 52-year-old.
“It doesn’t mean that you automatically win every game, but we are in a position where we can beat anyone, so that gives us confidence for the game.”
Loew, who is in his sixth year as coach having stepped up from being Jurgen Klinsmann’s assistant at the 2006 World Cup finals when the latter stood down, said he was approaching the match with great anticipation.
“I am really looking forward to this match, these are knock-out games where you have to throw in everything you have. We have a very strong team and are able to conquer Italy and reach the final,” said Loew.