Germany's Mesut Ozil smiles during a training session during the Euro 2012 (Photo: Reuters)
Germany coach Joachim Loew on Tuesday refused to be drawn into the political discussion surrounding his team's Euro 2012 quarter-final against Greece, saying for him it was a "normal" football match.
The game, billed by the media of both countries as the clash of the eurozone, pits the eurozone's problem child against its rich northern paymaster.
"(German Chancellor) Angela Merkel and us, we have a good relationship and an agreement that she does not advise me on the lineups and I do not advise her on political statements," Loew told reporters.
"It is just a normal quarter-final game against Greece and nothing else," Loew said.
Merkel is a deeply unpopular figure in Greece for the tough austerity principles she has imposed on the country mired in debt. Greek players on Monday also steered clear from talking about politics in relation to the game against Germany.
Loew, however, did not hesitate to comment on Greece playmaker Giorgos Karagounis' absence due to suspension. Karagounis scored the only goal against Russia.
"I think he is the one who has been having the big ideas in the Greek game for years. He is the connection between the defense and the players in attack and for Greece his absence is painful."
Germany advanced after topping Group B with their best-ever European Championship group stage performance of three straight wins while Greece stunned Russia 1-0 on their final Group A match to qualify behind the Czech Republic.
"Greece will not be an easy opponent. They are uncomfortable," said central defender Holger Badstuber. "They will defend well but will also, no doubt, have their offensive impulses.
"We need to be focused and not take this game lightly just because they are a small team."
Loew's squad trained on Tuesday without Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lars Bender, all nursing minor knocks after the 2-1 win over Denmark on Sunday.
"This is purely a precautionary measure. They are all fit," the 52-year-old coach said.
Ozil, a key player in the Germans' run to third place at the 2010 World Cup, has yet to shine in this tournament but Loew said it would happen.
"There will still be an Ozil explosion in this tournament. Just like in South Africa after the group stage," he said.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports)