Football

Challenge is to retain the World Cup: Loew

Germany are favourites at Russia 2018 but the hard work has just begun, says Joachim

Joachim Loew has hailed Germany's next generation of stars after beating Chile 1-0 in the Confederations Cup final yesterday morning (Singapore time), but says the challenge is to defend the World Cup next year.

Lars Stindl pounced on a defensive error to score the only goal of the game in the 20th minute at the Zenit Arena in St Petersburg, although Chile outplayed the Germans for long periods.

With this victory coming hot on the heels of the Germany's European Under-21 Championship triumph in Poland last week, the future for Loew's team looks bright indeed.

However, the 57-year-old German says the hard work for his rising stars is just beginning as they bid to earn a place in Die Mannschaft's squad for next year's World Cup.

Loew controversially left first-choice stars like Thomas Mueller, Jerome Boateng, Toni Kroos and Mesut Oezil at home, opting to take inexperienced youngsters to Russia instead.

Said Loew: "Jokingly, we could say that now we have to think about which of the players we left at home we can still add to this team next year.

"Seriously though, we have created alternatives, by giving young players experience in such games as has happened here.

"Winning here and at the European Under-21 Championship do not guarantee the World Cup next year. Germany always belong to the favourites and we will be capable of handling that.

"Despite our success here and with the juniors in Poland, we'll still have to reconfirm our victories next year (at the World Cup), but the job starts now, the work is just beginning.

"The young ones are only just coming up, this is the first tournament for many of these players. They have done well, but staying at the top is another matter and we will have to work hard to defend our title next year."

Chile created and missed a string of chances and, although Stindl's goal came against the run of play, Loew insisted victory was deserved.

"Before the match, (Chile midfielder Arturo) Vidal had said that winning this cup would mean they are the best team in the world," Loew said.

"Well, this cup means that at the moment Germany is still the best team in the world. And with such a young side!"

Only three of the Confed Cup-winning team - Jonas Hector, Joshua Kimmich and Julian Draxler - are first-choice starters.

Germany captain Draxler ended up as the Confed Cup's player of the tournament and striker Timo Werner finished as the top scorer in Russia with three goals and two assists.

Borussia Monchengladbach striker Stindl tapped home into an empty net midway through the first half after Chile defender Marcelo Diaz had given the ball away to Werner.

Chile's Alexis Sanchez, Vidal, Eduardo Vargas and substitute Angelo Sagal all went close, while Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved brilliantly in stoppage time to keep out Arsenal striker Sanchez's free-kick.

"We played an amazing match and made a huge effort," said Chile head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi.

"We imposed our game plan for a while, created chances but football is the way it is.

"Sometimes there are mistakes in football. It is normal to be disappointed when you lose a final.

"But knowing we can compete against the best teams in the world makes us happy. We will try to keep our style of play."

The smooth running of the tournament also saw Fifa president Gianni Infantino leading the calls for giving Russia the seal of approval to host next year's World Cup.

Fears that racism and hooliganism would blight the Confed Cup proved unfounded.

Said Infantino: "We had been hearing before this tournament about a lot of 'problems' we would experience here.

"If a problematic tournament looks like this one, well, I want to have many problematic tournaments going forward."

- WIRE SERVICES

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