Alexa

Joachim Loew starts as impressively as his German team in his first major tournament as coach

Joachim Loew starts as impressively as his German team in his first major tournament as coach

In his first game in charge of Germany at a major tournament, Joachim Loew did everything right. He picked the right starters, he made the right substitutions and he chose the right game plan to get the Germans off to a flying start in their bid for a fourth European Championship title.
Germany's 2-0 win over Poland in Klagenfurt on Sunday snapped a 12-year winless streak in the competition. It also extended the futility for Poland, which hasn't beaten Germany in 16 attempts in 75 years. Both goals came from Lukas Podolski, a naturalized German citizen born in Poland.
"Naturally, we are pleased with the result. We had to find out where we stand as a team, because it's the first game," Loew said Sunday. "We are a good team, we played very well. It was a demonstration of our will, of our desire."
The last time Germany won a game at a European Championship was in 1996, when it captured its third title. Oliver Bierhoff, whose Golden Goal delivered the title, said this team reminded him of the champions 12 years ago.
"They are also very focused on the title, the way we were. Maybe these guys are even hungrier," Bierhoff said Monday. "It's a wonderful group."
Bierhoff, now the team's general manager, was happy to snap the 12-year winless streak.
"It's good that we swept away this jinx," he said. "It was very important to win the first game, but we still have a long road ahead of us."
The 48-year-old Loew took over from Juergen Klinsmann following the last World Cup after working as his assistant. Loew said he did not feel like a novice, since he had already guided the team through qualifying.
"Still, it's a nice experience to be alone in charge. The game stood on the edge until we scored the second goal," Loew said.
Loew decided to go with Podolski in left midfield and that proved to be a master stroke.
Nominally a striker, Podolski has played a few times in left midfield for the national team and he proved his worth, making quick, penetrating runs and knocking in the two goals.
"When he is in perpetual motion like that, he is a constant threat," Loew said. "He can play in both positions. I saw in training that he was very active, that he has a lot of speed and stamina."
The player who made way for Podolski in midfield was his Bayern Munich teammate and good friend, Bastian Schweinsteiger. Loew had indicated ahead of the match that Schweinsteiger was not in good form, dropping hints that he could be relegated to the reserves.
When Schweinsteiger came off the bench in the 55th minute, he was eager to prove himself and played a role in setting up Germany's second goal.
Schweinsteiger replaced Clemens Fritz, who was a revelation in his debut as a starter at a major tournament. The Werder Bremen midfielder covered great distance and put a lot of pressure on Poland on the right flank.
"He played with a lot of pace," Loew said of Fritz.
The Germans thought Poland would come out with great desire, hoping to finally score a win over the neighbors. The game began at a frantic pace and the Germans didn't concede any ground in some bruising duels. Once Podolski scored in the 20th, the Germans settled down.
Loew said there were still things to improve, but the Germans already seem to be confirming their status as favorites.


Updated : 2020-12-03 13:20 GMT+08:00