Löw’s analysis of Croatia

German Football
By German Football June 10, 2008 19:39

Löw’s analysis of Croatia

Just as most fans across Europe, Joachim Löw was deeply impressed by the Dutch defeating World Champions Italy 3-0 Tuesday night. However, the German coach is not ready to predict them as the winners of the tournamnet just yet, despite their brilliant performance.

“Beware of over-emphasising one single game”, says Löw. “Portugal played a good game, we did decently and the Dutch team showed up very strong. But we all just played our first game. As expected, the performance level at this Euro is high, some teams have displayed an ability to attack with an insane speed. But I would not call the Netherlands the measuring rod of this tournament yet.”

Löw is not too interested in the Netherlands anyway. Two days prior to Germany’s next group game, Löw and his coaching staff are very much focused on Croatia. The team coached by former Bundesliga player Slaven Bilic eliminated England during the qualfiying round and defeated host-country Austria in their Euro opener. They are a force to reckon with. Many experts see them as the darkhorse in the 2008 tournament. Thursday night’s game in Klagenfurt features a clash of two winning sides – with Germany beating Poland and Croatia defeating Austria in their opening games.

“Croatia are great tacticians while they also have great individuals who can beat you one-on-one. They know how to control the pace of a game”, says Löw.

Monday was a day of rest and relaxation following the important first win. Now, the Mannschaft has started their preparations for the game against Croatia, 15th in FIFA’s World ranking. A charter will carry the team from Lugano to Klagenfurt Wednesday afternoon. Löw has scheduled a final practice session inside Wörthersee Stadium, the site of Thursday’s game. As usual, Löw will not reveal the line-up until just before kickoff.

While unwilling to discuss the chances of individual players, Löw praised the health status of the team. All 23 players could potentially play against Croatia. And the German coach likes team chemistry as well. “We have leaders such as Ballack, Frings, Metzelder, Lehmann and Klose on the team. But our role-players, the guys on the bench, contribute just as well. When I saw them following the Poland game, going to the fans as one team, I really thought they handled that well. Competition during practices is still fierce. Our substitutes are constantly challenging the starters.”

Corner-kicks and free-kicks will be covered in the upcoming practice sessions. Löw stressed: “Statistically, the chances for a goal are higher following a free-kick near the sideline than following a corner-kick.”

Germany has won five out of seven games against Croatia so far. If Löw nominates Lukas Podolski, on Sunday a two-time scorer, for the game against Croatia, he would obtain his 50th cap for Germany.

German Football
By German Football June 10, 2008 19:39
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