Football

Loew warns Germany not to underestimate Algeria

ROUND OF 16 

GERMANY V ALGERIA 

(Tomorrow, 4am, Singtel mio TV ch 141 & Starhub TV ch 223)

Germany coach Joachim Loew says now is the time for his side to show their true value while warning against underestimating their last-16 opponents Algeria, whom they meet tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

With the likes of Spain, Italy, Portugal and England eliminated in the group stages, Loew feels his side have a real opportunity of going all the way to the World Cup final, but their first hurdle in the knockout stages is not to be taken lightly.

“Personally, I cannot remember a group stage in which so many of the favourites were knocked out,” he said, at a press conference. “But tournaments are marathons, not a 100-metre sprint. Many nations in the past have won their first three games, and then lost their fourth.

“We’ve seen it all before. A team have got to be able to raise their game all the time. If you can manage that, then that’s a masterstroke.”

Germany are set to do that with Loew admitting there is still plenty of margin for improvement.

“There’s been lots of light, but also plenty of shadows; some good things, but also things which didn’t work,” he said.

“We won our group, which was our primary objective, so we are happy, but we are also self-critical and we know that we can play better.

“We’ve not reached our limit yet and with the start of the knockout phase, the decisive games are here.”

REVENGE

First up are Algeria, who have revenge on their mind for the socalled no-aggression pact between Germany and Austria in 1982 which resulted in their elimination.

“If anybody thinks or believes — and I think this is a feeling among the general public — that Algeria are easy opponents and that we can already start thinking of the next round, then they’re making a huge mistake,” Loew warned.

“We must remain focused and on our toes because any complacency will be punished.

“I took a look at Algeria yesterday for an hour and I know we’re up against a very compact side who run a lot and are aggressive.

“We also saw that Algeria not only has one important player. Some of them play in Spain, some in France, some played in youth national teams of France — they are all skilled.

“You don’t get the feeling that there is one player who stands out, who is the star. They play as a unit. Everybody puts in extra effort, the striker comes back to defend and the defender goes very fast for the counter-attack.

“I’ve rarely seen a team defend so vehemently, but still attack with purpose. Their whole country is euphoric, so we’re up against strong opponents.They are very well balanced.”

That euphoria is also rooted in that 1982 Gijon match which Loew insists means nothing to his players, even if it “may be an additional motivation” for Algeria. 

“When I hear people talking about revenge, it irritates me,” he said.

“Apart from maybe (Miroslav) Klose or (Roman) Weidenfeller, none of our players was even born then so they have no idea what happened. For our players, it’s not an issue.”

The Germany coach said that Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski will not feature tomorrow morning due to a thigh injury, but that he would be available for selection again “for our next game — should we get through”.

- Wire Services.