Football

Loew plays down Germany's expectations

Joachim reluctant to talk up chances after three near misses

QUARTER-FINAL

FRANCE 0

GERMANY 1

(Mats Hummels 13)

There were no wild celebrations or congratulatory backslaps for Germany after they beat France 1-0 this morning (Singapore time) to become the first country to reach the semi-finals in four successive World Cups.

While Germany coach Joachim Loew acknowledged his country's amazing feat, he was also keen to keep a lid on expectations, knowing well the bittersweet end results of his team's previous World Cup adventures.

Despite making the semi-finals at each of the last three World Cups, Germany's incredible consistency remains tarnished by the fact they failed to win those tournaments - something Loew is keen to make amends for this time.

"In the last four World Cups, we have been in the last four permanently, so that is quite a performance," said Loew.

"Now, we will try to make the next step. I think we have the intrinsic qualities to do that.

"Titles are marvellous. And many of our players from Bayern Munich have already conquered the Champions League, so that is important for them but, for us, first and foremost, it's a matter of playing the semi-finals."

The last time Germany won the World Cup was in 1990.

They were beaten in the 2002 final and in the semi-finals in 2006 and 2010.

Like any shrewd coach, Loew was reluctant to talk up his team's chances of winning the World Cup, sticking to the mantra that his team were taking it one match at a time after surviving a tough battle with the French.

Germany seized the lead with Mats Hummels' brilliantly taken 13th-minute header and defended resolutely as the French poured forward towards the end of the match.

"In the final phase in the second half, the French certainly tried to attack with all they had, it was obvious they had nothing to lose and were trying to score the equaliser," Loew said.

"They had to score, so they went for everything or nothing.

"I think both teams showed a great performance on the defensive side and both were also strong on the attack.

"We did not have that many goal-
scoring opportunities, so I think both teams had a very good defensive solution."

The Germans squandered a couple of late counter-attacking chances to score a second goal.

Loew put the misses down to the scorching temperatures and draining humidity.

The match kicked off at the Maracana at 1pm (Brazil time) and Loew was relieved that Germany's remaining matches would all start around sunset when conditions are cooler.

"It was certainly not easy for us Europeans to play at 1pm on the pitch and in that sun," he said.

"It was extremely hot, you could hardly breathe. For Europeans, it's hard because we're not used to that.

"I think the Latin American and Central American teams have a big home advantage, you cannot deny that."

Loew said one of the strengths of the German team was that they could switch players and change their tactics depending on their opponents.

Against France, he moved his captain Philipp Lahm from midfield to right back, and the ploy worked a treat, but Loew said he may choose a different line-up for Germany's semi-final against Brazil.

"When analysing France, we knew they had these two defenders in the centre who are so strong, so it was difficult to go via the centre and the midfield. For this reason, I decided to have Lahm on the right side. It was a tactical decision," Loew said.

COPE

"It's a matter of seeing how the players coped with this match.

"We saw players who were injured and had to go all the way, to their limits.

"We have to bring all the forces together and to see how they recover and regenerate over the next few days, then we'll make a decision.

"The players are informed about what I have in mind and there are discussions about it. We are able - and this is perhaps is one of our tactical strengths - to play different ways." - Reuters.

Mats set on final TWeets

Match-winner Mats Hummels hopes Germany will return to Rio de Janeiro for the World Cup final, after his header sealed their 1-0 win over France in this morning's (Singapore time) quarter-final.

The 25-year-old put Germany into the semi-finals by smashing his 13th-minute header in off the crossbar at Rio's Maracana Stadium - which hosts the World Cup final on July 13.

The centre back's second goal of Brazil 2014 means Germany now face Brazil in Wednesday morning's semi-final in Belo Horizonte.

"The next dream has come true," beamed the Borussia Dortmund defender, after scoring his fourth goal in 34 appearances for Germany.

"It's unbelievable that it's all going so well for us here at the World Cup. I hope that our journey won't end soon and that we can make it back to compete here in nine days' time.

"We're playing the kind of football that will give us a chance to win. Our defensive attitude has been as expected and the passion will be intensified for the forthcoming matches."

Hummels admitted that he had struggled in Rio's heat, having battled with mild flu at the start of the week that forced him out of Monday's extra-time win over Algeria.

WATER PARADE

"I was flat this morning and had to drink loads of water after the game, but things worked out differently for me at the end," he grinned.

"We knew France were among the top teams and it certainly wasn't a walk in the park. It wasn't the perfect match, but we deserved to go through."

- AFP.

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