Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Germany manager backs Lahm after captain row

Germany manager Joachim Low has defended his captain Philipp Lahm ahead of their World Cup semi-final encounter against Spain in Durban later today.

The Bayern Munich defender has been the centre of an unnecessary controversy brewing in the German camp after comments that he wanted to remain as skipper even when the injured Michael Ballack returns after the tournament.

Lahm was speaking to the Bild newspaper less than 48 hours before the crucial encounter, but Low said: "That does not bother us at all.

"He spoke honestly about what he thinks. He has been enjoying the added responsibility and he has done his job here in an exemplary fashion.

"Philipp said he would like to continue but he also said he knows it is up to the coach to decide after the World Cup."

The distraction in the German camp has slightly overshadowed the build-up for the three-time champions, who will be desperate to make up for their disappointment against the Spaniards in the European championship final two years ago.

Low promised a much improved performance from his team, who were beaten 1-0 in that game.

He continued: "In 2008 we did not have the same consistency.

"I had seen in our pre-tournament preparations that we have players of a higher playing quality. Our combination football and the flow of our game have improved.

"Two years ago we put in a lot of energy but were not in a position to dominate a game. Now we can cause problems for teams and are much better with the ball."

Germany, who are without the suspended Thomas Muller, have at least been boosted by the news that the rest of their squad is fit.

Midfielder Sami Khedira (muscle), defender Arne Friedrich (thigh) and Cacau (abdominal strain) all took some part in training yesterday.

Low said he had spoken to his players about how dangerous the Spaniards were, adding: "(Andres) Iniesta, (David) Villa and others, these are world-class players.

"But it's our attacking force that has brought us success here and if we don't try to be offensive we won't have a chance.

"We won't be able to nail them down in their own half but we will have to force them to work back and use every chance we have ourselves to get forward."