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German strike rate a concern for Loew


Joachim Loew

Joachim Loew

Joachim Loew

Germany's star-studded attack has been ordered to convert more chances in front of goal when they take on Austria in their second Group C World Cup qualifier tomorrow.

The Germans laboured to a 3-0 win over the Faroe Islands in Hanover last Friday with two goals from Mesut Ozil and one from Mario Goetze and coach Joachim Loew knows that they face a far tougher challenge in front of a full house at the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna.

"We need to play with more consistency and authority than we did against the Faroe Islands," said Loew. "The Austrians sense their chance to reach the 2014 World Cup and they are highly motivated to beat us."

Despite fielding a five-man attack, including veteran striker Miroslav Klose, Ozil and Dortmund pair Goetze and Marco Reus, the Germans converted just three of their 15 shots on goal against the Faroes. "We have to be more consistent in front of goal," insisted Germany's assistant coach Hansi Flick. "Our finishing has to be better."

The game against Austria marks the start of three tough games for the Germans who, after their trip to Vienna, travel to Dublin to play Ireland on October 12 before hosting Sweden in Berlin on October 16.

Meanwhile, John Terry is out of England's World Cup qualifier against Ukraine with an ankle problem, making it a total of 11 players lost to injury by Roy Hodgson.

Phil Jagielka is likely to get the nod ahead of Gary Cahill to replace the Chelsea skipper because of the understanding that he and Joleon Lescott developed while playing together at Everton.

Terry's injury is not thought to be severe, although he is a doubt for Chelsea's match against QPR on Saturday. He joins clubmate Ashley Cole as well as Adam Johnson and Andy Carroll as players who have withdrawn from Hodgson's 24-man squad.

The England manager was already without Wayne Rooney, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Jack Wilshere, Gareth Barry and Scott Parker when he selected the group for the first two World Cup qualifiers.

Spain will kick off their bid for an unprecedented fourth straight major title in Georgia buoyed by the return of David Villa.

Villa celebrated his first international since last November with a goal in Spain's 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia on Friday to take his all-time leading tally for the world's top-ranked side to 52.

Italy were the only top team to fail to start the campaign with a victory. A 2-2 draw in Bulgaria in Group B was greeted with derision by the national media after the Azzurri showed little of the form that took them to Euro 2012 final, which they lost 4-0 to the Spaniards.

It will be a mighty shock if the Italians don't put things right against Malta, ranked 139th by FIFA.

"Our performance in Sofia was unacceptable," said Italy coach Cesare Prandelli. "It's right that the marks in the newspapers were low.

"The squad was the most experienced that I've had in my two years as coach, which shows that the things you learn can be forgotten."

Meanwhile, in the South American qualifying campaign, Argentina defeated Paraguay 3-1 last Friday with goals from Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain.

After six series of matches, the Argentinians lead the group with 13 points, followed by Chile and Ecuador with 12, Uruguay with 11 and Colombia on 10.

Irish Independent