Germany coach says France result unimportant

AP, Monday 27 Feb 2012

Germany coach claims the result of the friendly against France is unimportant

Joachim Loew
Germany coach Joachim Loew

With the Bundesliga and the Champions League entering decisive weeks, club coaches see the game as unnecessary, players are eager to avoid serious injuries and even Germany coach Joachim Loew says the result of the friendly against France is unimportant

With the exception of reputations, not much will be at stake on Wednesday in Bremen when the two European heavyweights square off.

Germany is coming off impressive wins over the Netherlands and Brazil and will be eager to maintain it’s good run despite Loew’s public attempt to downgrade the outcome.

“Regardless of this game I think we have consolidated our play. We’re well-rehearsed, the philosophy fits. So in the game against France there will be situations where we’ll try one or two things,” Loew said. “We’ll probably make a few changes. It’s important generally for us to meet again, for us to be together for two or three days. We can address some things regarding the European Championships and tell the players what we expect of them in the coming months.”

Both teams come into friendly without some key players. France is unbeaten in its last 17 matches, but it will face its strongest opponent since a 2-0 loss to Spain in a friendly two years ago. Germany won all 10 of its qualifying matches and is hoping to win its first title at the upcoming European Championship in Poland and Ukraine since the 1996 continental crown.

“That match will help us assess our value against a team which is one of the best two in the world with Spain,” France coach Laurent Blanc said. “We are not at the level of Germany yet. But we’ll go to Germany with ambitions.”

Early-year friendlies have been poor gauges of Germany’s prospects in the past.

Germany lost to Italy in 2006 and to Argentina in 2010 in pre-World Cup buildups, but both times went on to finish third—although it lost again to Italy in the 2006 semifinals.

“Of course we want to win the game against France, but in this case other aspects are more important. The result doesn’t matter for the European Championships, not even (if we meet again),” Loew said.

“This has also been shown by the past. We lost to Argentina in Munich in 2010, against Italy in 2006. In the last two or three years we’ve laid the foundations. The preparation dictates form and with it (how we play) over the course of the tournament.”

Captain and Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm, Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, Borussia Dortmund playmaker Mario Goetze, Cologne striker Lukas Podolski and Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker are out with injuries.

Twin brothers Sven and Lars Bender were called up together for the first time, but Sven suffered facial bruises in Borussia Dortmund’s 3-1 win over Hannover on Sunday and is unlikely to play.

Lars Bender staked a claim for a starting place by scoring twice in Bayer Leverkusen’s 2-0 win at Cologne in the Rhine derby Saturday. Podolski did play in the game for Cologne, but Loew had already decided his squad.

Germany hasn’t beaten France since 1987 and the last meeting between the sides was a 0-0 draw in 2005.

France will be missing Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema and Marseille forward Loic Remy because of injury, meaning Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud— the French league’s top scorer with 16 goals—could start alongside Louis Saha.

Saha has the opportunity to stake a claim for Euro 2012.

“I never give up. I have that inside of me,” Saha said. “Even when I wasn’t picked, I kept on believing and working hard in the hope that I would come back one day.”

Saha has played only once for France in the last six years—against Belarus in the first Euro 2012 qualifier in September 2010—where he can on as a sub and came off injured 10 minutes later.

“I like him, he’s a good player. Unfortunately he’s often injured and that’s certainly worked against him at club and international level,” Blanc said.

“With Benzema and Remy out, Saha allows us to have a player who can play two roles: on his own up front or alongside someone else. Maybe changing clubs has given him a new lease on life.”

Blanc left out Bacary Sagna, saying he was still a bit short of matches since coming back for Arsenal, and Blanc could also hand an international debut to Marseille winger Morgan Amalfitano. The 26-year-old Amalfitano’s excellent crossing from the right has caught the eye this season.

“It’s a childhood dream. When you watch the 1998 World Cup and you’re 14 or 15, you think it’s very far away. If I get the chance, I will give everything I have. Germany’s a big game for us.”

France is unbeaten in its last 17 matches, but it will face its strongest opponent since a 2-0 loss to Spain in a friendly two years ago.

 (For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter: @AO_Sports)

Search Keywords:
Short link: