Tuesday 12 December 2017

Loew keeps Germans' feet on ground

Victory in Kazakhstan, coupled with Sweden's draw with Ireland, has sent Germany five points clear in Group C but coach Joachim Loew has warned his side against complacency ahead of tomorrow's home game against the Kazakhs.

The Germans, 3-0 winners in Astana, are cruising towards 2014 World Cup qualification and even a suspension to Bastian Schweinsteiger looks unlikely to stop them from notching their fifth win in six group games.

While a meltdown similar to the one late last year that saw them spectacularly squander a 4-0 lead against Sweden to draw 4-4 is not expected in Nuremberg, Loew wants his players to firmly focus on what is at stake.

"If you score a victory away then there is the danger that you keep this in your head for some time," Loew said. "We have to keep reminding the players that we are playing at home and we will only win if we have the right attitude and seriousness."

Loew is aware of the gap in quality between the world's second-best team and a side ranked 139 but he also saw the Kazakhs battling back at 2-0 down on Friday and having two clear chances as Germany took their foot off the gas.

He will not have Schweinsteiger to orchestrate their play but the Germans should be faster with the return of Marco Reus, who sat out his own one-game ban on Friday.

Julian Draxler has also been ruled out after picking up a concussion on Friday, prompting late call-ups for midfielders Patrick Herrmann and Marcell Jansen. Loew also has the option of Sven Bender to replace Schweinsteiger.

Ilkay Guendogan is his rival for a starting spot and it is also not yet clear whether striker Mario Gomez, who picked up a muscle injury last week, will be fit.

Loew opted not to play with an out-and-out striker in the first game but could revert back to his tested 4-2-3-1 system.

For Kazakhstan, still looking for a victory in this campaign, it will be an even harder task with the Germans back home on natural grass and with an early evening kick-off time as opposed to Friday's midnight game on an artificial pitch.

Irish Independent

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