Loew backs Schweinsteiger after shaky Manchester United start

AFP , Tuesday 1 Sep 2015

Bastian Schweinsteiger
Germany and Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger (Reuters)

Germany coach Joachim Loew is backing Bastian Schweinsteiger to brush off his shaky start at Manchester United when he captains his country in Friday's key Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland.

The world champions host Poland in Frankfurt with Adam Nawalka's visitors top of Group D by a point from Loew's Germany, who then face third-placed Scotland in Glasgow on Monday, in two important qualifiers for Schweinsteiger's side.

An historic 2-0 defeat to Poland in Warsaw last October - the German's first loss to their neighbours - highlighted their post-Brazil hangover as Germany struggle to rediscover the form which carried them to the 2014 World Cup title.

Schweinsteiger will lead Germany for the first time since his transfer from Bayern Munich to United in July.

Loew has described the 31-year-old as "world-class" despite criticism of his fitness in United's 2-1 defeat to Swansea on Sunday, his first full appearance for his Premier League club, after their goalless draw at home to Newcastle, which left them fifth in the table.

"When push comes to shove, Bastian is still a world-class player," said Germany's head coach.

"He is adaptable and his physical robustness is one of his greatest strengths.

"When he's physically fit, you know what he brings to the team: he's a strategist, he leads the team and he's equipped with an unbelievable will to fight and win."

After 14 years in Munich, eight Bundesliga and seven German Cup titles, plus the 2013 treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and domestic cup wins with Bayern, Schweinsteiger says he is enjoying his new challenge at United.

"It's been a lot of fun and it's a great feeling to play for United," said Schweinsteiger.

"We've given away five points in our last two league games, despite having the game under control at Swansea and failing to get the goals against Newcastle, but we're on the right path and have qualified for the Champions League.

"These two games now for Germany are certainly a challenge and perhaps we can get some revenge for our defeat in Poland last year.

"We'll be doing all we can to go top of the group."

Arsenal's Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil, who has also been criticised for a lack of form by the UK media in the past, came to the defence of his national team captain.

"Basti showed the entire world what kind of a leader he is at the World Cup," said the 26-year-old Ozil.

"The hard interim conclusions of the English press are not fair. "He certainly needs some more time to adapt to the Premier League."

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