Low warns of France threat
Germany coach Joachim Low has warned his players France are now a whole different proposition to the team which capitulated so spectacularly at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa. Low's side host Les Bleus in a friendly in Bremen on Wednesday as they look to again show they are potential UEFA EURO 2012 winners.
The two teams had contrasting experiences in 2010, Germany reaching the semi-finals as a young attacking side tore apart the likes of England and Argentina, while a France squad riven by infighting crashed out in the group stages. Laurent Blanc has since taken over as coach from the hugely unpopular Raymond Domenech, though, and the former defender led France to top spot in their European Championship qualifying group.
Low, for one, feels he has transformed French fortunes. "France are showing a very different face to the one they had at the 2010 World Cup," said Low, whose side topped their qualifying pool with a 100 per cent record. "The team has rediscovered the traditionally good organisation of the French, a solid defence. In attack they have several players who are world class, they all play at top clubs."
They home defence should be familiar with at least one of them, Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery. Low said: "This is an interesting test for us. We will, regardless of the result, take on board the necessary lessons ahead of the EUROs."
The Germany coach is impressed by his squad's strength in depth as they look to go one better than their runners-up finish at EURO 2008. "This game is the end of a whole series of tests since 2010," he said. "We have specifically chosen top-class opponents and in all games have used more than 20 players without there being any great variations in form. That is testament to the balance we have in each individual position."
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Sven Bender this morning pulled out of the squad because of the facial injury he suffered in yesterday's Bundesliga win over Hannover. Germany captain Philipp Lahm was also ruled out of Wednesday's game with a problem with his right knee.
"Sven Bender was ruled out early on," Low said. "The fears of a broken nose were not confirmed, but he has suffered severe bruising to his nasal bone. It is completely understandable he was withdrawn, because he would not have been in the position on Wednesday to go into tackles properly."
Bender's twin brother Lars, who is in the squad, added: "I was looking forward to playing alongside Sven in the national team. It's a shame that the first time we have both been called up it has not come off, but it can still happen in the future."