Sport European Championships

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Loew puts faith in his philosophy to torpedo Ireland

Germany head coach Joachim Loew (Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Germany head coach Joachim Loew (Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

John Fallon

After flattering Ireland with familiar platitudes at his pre-match press conference, German manager Joachim Loew yesterday got down to business by reminding the gallery of their undisputed inferiority.

"We are called upon to take the game to the opposition and impose our own match philosophy," said the World Cup winner.

Philosophy may easily be a euphemism for destruction. As they did in the wins over Poland and Scotland last month, the visitors will set out to grind Ireland down by spraying passes forward and wide as well as utilising their considerable power and pace to dissect a defence harnessed by an ageing John O'Shea battling relegation for the third year in a row and, most likely, Richard Keogh whose ambition of even featuring in the Premier League is slipping away entering his thirties.

Germany's front six players alone are estimated to value €250m, including €80m-rated Thomas Muller who is aiming to find the net for his fifth qualifier in a row (he was rested for the stroll against Gibraltar in June).

It's for that reason Loew and his defender Mat Hummels could emit a sense of formality about this assignment at the Intercontinental Hotel yesterday.

Sporting his traditional casual look, every sentence was immaculately delivered by the manager with the chances of a loose word slipping just as remote as a follicle doing likewise from his impressive mop of hair.

Loew's choice to divulge his admiration for Ireland's attack over that of Scotland's might have something to do with not having to face the latter again for a number of years at least, though he couldn't resist reverting to Celtic stereotypes when outlining the approach he's expecting tonight.

"Ireland are famous for defending very well, they have a very strong defence," he reasoned. "They know how to make life hard for the opposition. Ireland are very robust, very physical, but they can also score on the counter.

"Just like Scotland, they will fight until the very last minute."

Despite his pleas to the contrary, the overriding feeling is this fixture, along with Sunday's concluder against Georgia, constitute the start of auditions for places at next summer's European Championship finals in France.

"That (squad) is anything but finalised," countered Loew to the mere suggestion, aware one point from the double-header confirms their passage.

"We do have a long list of players who can enter the squad at any time - the door is always open. The final selection will not be made before May 2016."

Hummels was certainly brought back to the here and now. The inquisition into Borussia Dortmund's 5-1 Bundesliga hammering by Bayern Munich was led aloud by their defender after the match but a visiting press corps seeking further barbs from him were ignored and encouraged to concentrate on national cause.

"I remember some pretty fiery one v ones in our home game against Ireland in Gelsenkirchen," said Hummels, the defender blamed for allowing O'Shea to snaffle a late equaliser 12 months ago.

"Obviously we will have more possession of the ball against Ireland again.

"That's is only natural but we have to be careful not to be caught out on the counter like we were in the home game."

With only fringe striker Lukas Podolski unavailable, the machine is tipped to have sufficient oil for another calamity to be avoided.

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