Low: Relegation battle will toughen stars
With some of his Germany stars in the midst of a Bundesliga relegation battle, national coach Joachim Low has said it will toughen them up ahead of this month's internationals.
Germany top their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying group and host minnows Kazakhstan on 26 March in a qualifier in Kaiserslautern followed by Australia in a friendly three days later in Moenchengladbach. However, with Werder Bremen and Stuttgart both deep in the relegation mire, Low says senior squad members like Bremen's Per Mertesacker and Tim Wiese, plus Stuttgart's Christian Traesch and Cacau can only learn from the experience.
Loew wants victory over Kazakhstan to improve his side's five-point lead at the top of EURO 2012 qualifier group A before meeting Australia in a FIFA World Cup™ re-match. Second-from-bottom Stuttgart are three points from safety and host Schalke on Saturday, while Werder Bremen are just above the relegation zone and are at Freiburg on Sunday.
"For players like these, the relegation battle is a challenge, because they have to take responsibility in every game," said Low. "They are under extreme nervous strain, because everyone is looking at them, but it is also a chance for them to grow.
"With a certain amount of self-assurance they have to think: 'What mistakes have we made? What do we need to improve?' They have to think not only for themselves, but for the whole team. As an international player, you are required to think differently. That broadens a player's horizons."
While Bremen and Stuttgart are toiling at the foot of the Bundesliga, Low says he also has sympathy for Bayern Munich striker Miroslav Klose, who is mostly being used from the bench by the Bavarian giants. With 59 goals from 106 appearances for Germany, Klose, 32, is only nine goals away from Gerd Mueller's all-time German record of 68 goals.
Reports in the German media hint Klose may quit Bayern to join league leaders Borussia Dortmund once his contract expires at the end of the season and Loew says he has some sympathy. "Miro and I had a conversation some time ago in which he talked about his future," said Loew. "I do not want to interfere in the affairs of (Dortmund coach) Jurgen Klopp, but if Dortmund is considering signing Miro Klose, I could understand that.
"Miro is not the sort of player who throws himself into an international adventure because of money. I know he has many offers for a free transfer this summer, Dortmund are not his only option, so he has all the trump cards. But I am sure Bayern will have second thoughts if they let Miro go to a new club."