Germany now a force at Euro 2008: Coach

June 20th, 2008 - 9:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Tenero (Switzerland), June 20 (DPA) Germany demonstrated they are “a force to reckoned with” in eliminating Portugal from Euro 2008, coach Joachim Loew said Friday. Germany bounced back from two indifferent performances to defeat Portugal 3-2 in Basle Thursday evening to set up a semi-final encounter with either Croatia or Turkey.

Loew said Germany found their winning tournament mentality in downing Portugal - but revealed the victory had cost him a bottle of red wine in a bet with assistant coach Hansi Flick.

Flick, in charge of coaching duties on the touchline while the banned Loew was watching from the stands, had bet that Germany would score from a free-kick.

He was then delighted to see Germany score twice from the set-pieces through Miroslav Klose and Michael Ballack.

That was an area of defensive weakness the Germans had planned to exploit in the Portugal side, Loew said at the team’s Swiss camp in Tenero.

“We showed in this game that we are a factor in this tournament and that the strong Portuguese weren’t able to withstand the pressure of a quarter-final,” he said.

After the 2-1 defeat to Croatia and hard-fought 1-0 win over Austria, Loew said the decision was taken to change tactics to play with a five-man midfield in a 4-2-3-1 system.

“We realised we had to make small corrections for the Portugal game,” he said.

Loew was pleased with the performances of Bayer Leverkusen’s Simon Rolfes and Stuttgart’s Thomas Hitzlsperger who both started for the first time and helped snuff out Portugal’s midfield threat.

“Rolfes has a way of playing which fits our philosophy,” Loew said.

Loew may have Torsten Frings back in action for the semi-final in Basle Wednesday as he recovers from a cracked rib. The Werder Bremen player was due to train Friday with his chest taped but would be kept out of any tackling.

Loew also praised man-of-the-match Bastian Schweinsteiger who scored one goal and provided the free-kicks for the two others to make amends for a red card against Croatia and a one-match suspension.

“He knew after the Croatia game that he owed something to us all. He did very well,” he said.

“The joy and atmosphere and relief to have reached the semi-final was big. The players were tired from the fight but very relieved as well,” he said.

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