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Irish Loew on Germans' list of priorities

FOR a man who is supposedly under intense pressure, Jogi Loew looks as cool as could be.

FACING the Irish and German media in the bowels of Lansdowne Road stadium yesterday, the German coach, who looks a decade younger than his 52 years, is wearing a scarf around his neck as he waits for things to kick off.

He should be wearing protective gear, given all the barbs and problems that have come his way in the last while since Germany's exit at Euro 2012 was deemed to be a failure.

Criticisms of his selection, tactics, tournament preparation, unhappiness with his team's defensive record - which has seen the Germans keep just one clean sheet in the last seven games.

Loew was due to speak to the assembled media at 1.15 yesterday, but that start time was delayed - thankfully not due to any cock-up by the host association but because a large batch of the German media were still en route from Dublin airport to the stadium at the time, and Loew agreed to delay his press conference to let the Teutonic hacks in, using the time in between to explore the stadium, have a coffee and shoot the breeze with some pals, not a hint of sweat on his brow.

Doddle

This is nothing new to the coach of the Mannschaft. He takes his team to places like Moscow, Prague, and Kiev - and wins. Dublin's a doddle.

Players in his squad, such as Klose, Podolski and Ozil have been name-checked by every Irish player when speaking to the media this week - on the other side it's doubtful that the German squad know all that much about Seamus Coleman or Shane Long.

Ireland were mentioned only in passing when Loew spoke to the media yesterday and not one of our players was mentioned by name, though their boss has sounded some notes of caution when recalling the Ireland-Spain game from Euro 2012.

"What I saw was that Spain were only becoming dominant as the game wore on, for large parts of the match it didn't look that clear at all," Loew said.

"And even when it was 1-0 or 2-0 the Irish side fought on, showed great pride and readiness to give their all for their country and for the supporters who had travelled to Poland and we'll be in for more of the same tonight.

"The atmosphere will be more than passionate, it will be electric, they will be behind the team no matter what the score is and I think we'll be treated to a fantastic atmosphere in the stadium.

"But I expect my team to be right there from the word go and offer resistance to that Irish might, but we will see a different game to the one against Spain."

That's the difference between us and them - Keith Andrews spoke earlier this week about how Ireland need an old-school display, with sleeves rolled up and an appetite for a battle to get something from this game.

The Germans feel - quite rightly - that the 11 players they'll pick are simply better than ours and if they turn up, do the job as planned, they will come away with the win.

Unity

"What we must do is believe that Ireland will not see themselves as beaten at any time," added the German boss.

"They will go for goal and go for victory. We have to go back and define our own style, represent our nation as a compact unit and exude that sense of unity, only then will it be possible to counter the Irish game."

They should have things their own way, but the Germans haven't had things all their own way of late - a defence that's leaking goals and a very unconvincing win over Austria.

"We did lack some defensive discipline, order and composure, and all that was put on the agenda in meetings and in training sessions on the field. So I hope we will have improved on the field tomorrow," Loew said. "Our players have a much better playing rhythm than at the beginning of the season when we played Argentina, the Faroe Islands and Austria.

"Of course we will have a good defence. Some changes has been pressed upon us: Philipp Lahm is ruled out with suspension and Mats Hummels has an injury.

"Yet the extra responsibility is not just for the defenders, defence starts at the top so we want our strikers and midfielders to be defenders too."


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