Joachim Löw: Keep politics out of Germany's quarter-final with Greece
Joachim Löw is determined to keep politics well and truly out of Germany's Euro 2012 quarter-final against Greece on Friday night.
The match has an added spice to it given the current political situation in both countries and the European Union as a whole, but Löw says that the future of Europe's single currency will not be discussed on or around the pitch in Gdansk.
"You know that we have a very good relationship with [German chancellor] Angela Merkel and we have an agreement that she will not dictate the team to me and I will not make any political statements," said Löw . "For us, it is a totally normal quarter-final against Greece and we are focusing on the sport."
Löw cut a remarkably relaxed figure in Germany's base for Euro 2012 in Gdansk yesterday. Only insinuations that his side have turned too negative compared to the side that earned many plaudits at the 2010 World Cup tested Löw's calm demeanour.
"You think we have veered away from our attractive football?" he asked. "We beat Holland and Portugal after learning from conceding five against the Swiss that we had to find the right balance between defence and a strong attack.
"If we were playing Brazil in a friendly match then you can play with an exciting all-out attack, but not in a tournament.
"You cannot always send every third or fourth ball into the penalty area – Holland and Denmark kept their opponents away from their half so we were forced to spread play sometimes instead, even if we got more possession as a result."
But Löw denied that Germany have been too defensive on their way into the last eight. "You have got to try and keep a clean sheet, but without just building a wall," he said. There has been no wall-building here and we have been creating chances. Our attack remains our priority, but you have to find the right balance."
That balance is based on solid foundations which, in Germany's case, have been provided by Mats Hummels and Holger Badstuber at the heart of their defence.
Bayern Munich defender Badstuber believes he and his partner have found that balance and are improving by the game. "I think we have done a good job so far," he said. "Of course we still have room for improvement, like the whole team, but we can be pleased with our defence against teams like Portugal and Holland.
"Maybe our defensive understanding comes from the fact we were both brought up in the same [Bayern Munich] school. We are both guys who understand football, this style, this defensive work and we complement each other."
Looking ahead to Greece, Badstuber and Hummels may not be expecting such a busy time, but that does not mean Germany will just walk into the semi-finals, according to the Bayern centre-half.
"They have never beaten us, but the important thing is that we get it right in our heads and don't take them lightly," he said. "They have beaten Russia, who had been a good team until then, so we are warned and are preparing well."
The German Football Association, meanwhile, is facing a second fine over the behaviour of Germany fans at the European Championship. Uefa announced yesterday that it was taking action against the DFB for the "improper conduct" of supporters during Sunday's 2-1 win over Denmark. The disciplinary proceedings were for the "display of inappropriate banners and symbols, and inappropriate chanting", but Uefa refused to confirm if any of those were racist in nature.
The DFB was also charged with the setting-off of fireworks, having already been fined €10,000 (just over £8,000) after their fans threw screwed-up pieces of paper at Portugal players during their opening match. Uefa's control and disciplinary body will deal with the new case on Saturday.
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