Loew brushes aside defensive worries

Germany coach promises attacking football in World Cup qualifier against Austria despite recent defensive frailties.

    Loew brushes aside defensive worries
    Germany are five-points clear at the top of Group C, with Austria second on goal difference [GETTY]

    Defensive frailties are no cause for worry ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Austria and the Faeroe Islands, according to Germany coach Joachim Loew.

    "We'll score more goals than we concede against Austria. I'm counting on that,'' said Loew, whose team has conceded nine goals in their last three games.

    With qualification from Group C all but assured if Germany beats Austria in Munich on Friday and then wins in the Faeroe Islands four days later, attention is already turning to the prospect of winning the World Cup next year.

    Qualifying fixtures

    Friday 6 September

    Group A
    Macedonia v Wales
    Scotland v Belgium
    Serbia v Croatia

    Group B
    Czech Republic v Armenia
    Malta v Denmark
    Italy v Bulgaria

    Group C
    Kazakhstan v Faroe Islands
    Republic of Ireland v Sweden
    Germany v Austria

    Group D
    Romania v Hungary
    Turkey v Andorra
    Estonia v Netherlands

    Group E
    Norway v Cyprus
    Switzerland v Iceland
    Slovenia v Albania

    Group F
    Russia v Luxembourg
    Northern Ireland v Portugal

    Group G
    Bosnia-Herzegovina v Slovakia
    Liechtenstein v Greece
    Latvia v Lithuania

    Group H
    Ukraine v San Marino
    Poland v Montenegro
    England v Moldova

    Group I
    Georgia v France
    Finland v Spain

    Saturday 7 September

    Israel v Azerbaijan

    But the goals conceded in the 3-3 draw with Paraguay, 4-3 loss to the United States and 4-2 win over Ecuador have led to concerns that a soft underbelly harms the team's chances of succeeding.

    No problems

    The German coach is clearly irritated by the debate.

    "Look at the qualification games for the 2012 European Championship, whether we conceded many goals,'' Loew said.

    "And please simply tell the difference between qualification games, tournament games, friendly games and preparation games.''

    Individual mistakes were to blame for goals conceded against Paraguay in Kaiserslautern on August 14, and Loew said he was "relatively confident'' there will be no repeat against Austria.

    "It's not just the defence, the whole team is under obligation in this game. There will be a different team on the pitch and it will play differently to the side that played against Paraguay,'' Loew said.

    Loew, who has been in charge since he was promoted as Juergen Klinsmann's assistant after the 2006 World Cup, brushed aside criticism of his attacking brand of football - a style which has won plenty of admirers for its attractive and exciting play, but is undermined by the problems in defence.

    "We have to find the right balance. I've said that (before),'' Loew said.

    "We won't go back and play defensively, only on the counterattack. A good team has to be strong offensively and then do the right things in defence. But that doesn't mean having the whole setup geared toward defending.''

    Both Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ilkay Guendogan are ruled out through injury, meaning Sven Bender or Toni Kroos will likely line up beside Sami Khedira in midfield. Another candidate, Sven's twin brother Lars, was ruled out Thursday with a left hip injury.

    "It's not a serious injury but a painful one,'' Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick said.

    "As it stands we expect him to be fit for Bayer Leverkusen's next Bundesliga game.''

    Poor record

    Austria haven’t beaten Germany since a 4-1 friendly win in Vienna on October 29, 1986, and Germany have lost only two of their 80 World Cup qualifiers since 1934.

    However, Germany have won none of their four World Cup or European Championship qualifiers in Munich, where their record is two defeats and two scoreless draws.

    Several Austrian players ply their trade in the Bundesliga, including Bayern Munich midfielder David Alaba, Schalke defender Christian Fuchs and Stuttgart striker Martin Harnik, while Marko Arnautovic left Werder Bremen in the offseason.

    Motivation for Austria's first competitive win over Germany since a 3-2 win at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina is high.

    Austria would greatly boost their chances of a playoff place with a win.

    With four games remaining in Group C, Austria, Sweden and Ireland have 11 points each, five behind Germany.

    Ireland host Sweden on Friday and visit Austria on Tuesday, when Sweden visit Kazakhstan.

    Germany host Ireland and visit Sweden in October, but can have qualification wrapped up before then with rivals dropping points.

    Germany captain Philipp Lahm will make his 100th appearance for Germany on Friday.

    "It's something special to play your 100th national game at your doorstep,'' the Bayern Munich defender said.

    "The most important thing, of course, is the win.''

    SOURCE: AP


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