Reda Maher

Brazil 360: Loew and Deschamps barely touch gloves in sparring contest

Reda Maher

View gallery

.
Joachim Loew’s revelation that seven Germany players were suffering from flu and other illnesses came as no surprise.

Not because we cannot tolerate climes milder than our own northern European winters, but because the swift changes of the weather, plus flights, make for a heady cocktail of infection (yes, it wasn't just them).

Those poorly Germans are now all fit to face France, and thank Sudafed for that.

[LOEW-SEVEN HAD FLU, ALL FIT NOW]

Of more interest was that, instead of engaging in mind-games ahead of the World Cup semi-final showdown, Loew appeared disinterested in the traditional pre-fight jostle, instead choosing to focus on his own players.

Loew, for example, sang the praises of keeper-sweeper Manuel Neuer, who was singled out as a star performer in the 2-1 a.e.t. victory against Algeria in the last 16.

“He allows our back four to push further up the pitch,” Loew said ahead of the big match in Rio de Janeiro.

“This means that, when a team tries to cause an early upset – like Algeria or the USA – we can go on the front foot and take control of the match.

View gallery

.

Neuer controls the ball on his chest during training ahead of Germany-France

“Of course it is vital that a goalkeeper in this role has excellent ball skills. He is technically very good, and his anticipation and understanding of distances mean he is valuable here.

“He should always take this risk to stand further forward when we attack, because means he can deal with the 60-metre balls defenders may play when they are looking for the counter-attack.”

[READ ALL OF REDA'S WORLD CUP BLOGS]

[FOLLOW REDA ON TWITTER]

Loew also had to field questions about his team’s recent performances, which have come under criticism at home and abroad.

That they struggled to victory over Algeria is a particular point of contention, but – while admitting his side “had not played so well against Algeria” – Loew insisted they were well prepared to take on France.

“We are ready,” he declared. “We weren’t focused against Ghana, and the USA had nothing to lose while we played without pressure.

“We are yet to show our true capabilities.”

Loew’s only reference to the French came when asked specifically – he replied by calling them “superb” and “consistent”.

His French counterpart Didier Deschamps did reference Germany in declaring that Les Bleus were not afraid of them.

“Why should we be? We have no reason to be afraid. The Germans are solid but they are not at their peak.”

That probably won’t rattle Loew’s cage too much – he admitted as much himself.

[THE DEATH OF EUROPE GREATLY EXAGGERATED]

But Deschamps elected to turn that towards his now-unified team, urging them to attack without fear.

“The players are not feeling pressure because a new chapter will be written tomorrow.

“Germany had some tough matches though, and they are a stable team who dominate possession.”

View gallery

.
When told that Loew had singled his team out for praise, Dechamps turned back on himself though.

“We’re the favourites? Joachim is too kind. Germany were among the favourites at the beginning of the World Cup.”

That assuredness from Deschamps appears in contrast to fans' views – with the Germans characteristically confident and the French typically understated, if gushing with praise for their coach.

[FRANCE V GERMANY HEAD-TO-HEAD: STATS, HISTORY AND THE FAN VIEW]

Certainly, this is the narrowest of encounters; Germany have had greater recent success but France have healed the fractures in their squad and could well add to their 11-9-6 head-to head record against an old enemy, 1-1-1 at the World Cup.

It will make for fascinating viewing on the pitch, with Loew under pressure to actually win something with this Germany team, and Deschamps, well, pretty relaxed about it all.

Whoever wins has the chance to make history with a semi-final place up for grabs against either hosts Brazil, or a free-flowing Colombia team who have made plenty of friends at this World Cup.

At the moment, France look well poised – but you can never write off the Germans.

From 14:00 UK time on Friday, Reda Maher will host a live chat from the Maracana ahead of Germany and France’s World Cup quarter-final.

The match kicks off at 17:00 UK time, with live text, scoring and stats here.

Eurosport’s Reda Maher is on location in Brazil for the duration of the 2014 World Cup - follow him on Twitter @Reda_Eurosport

View Comments (3)
Fantasy Premier League