Low focusing on midfield battle

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The Independent Football

Germany coach Joachim Low believes that neutralising Andres Iniesta and Xavi will be the key to his side's hopes of upsetting Spain in tomorrow's World Cup semi-final in Durban.

The Barcelona pair played major roles when Vicente del Bosque's team were crowned European champions two years ago and have again figured heavily in South Africa.

Low, whose own midfielders did an admirable job in their 4-0 quarter-final win over Argentina in which Lionel Messi was largely anonymous, said: "They've played together for a long time at Barcelona, that's what makes the difference.

"But if we get on top of them and put them under pressure as we did with Messi, that will be the key to the match."

Low praised the way his side have asserted themselves on the tournament, considering all the players are home-based. Other top nations have players plying their trade in several of Europe's top leagues.

However, he felt the defensive style Italy played four years ago was now outdated.

"I've seen a lot of football (in various leagues)," he continued.

"In England the tempo is incredible and something to be emulated. In Spain, there is the free-flowing style, technique and skill and you can see that's something that is second nature to them, even to their youth teams.

"Italy won the World Cup in 2006 with perfect defensive play but the game has moved on in the last four years.

"The teams in the final four have solid defences but you have to have more than that, a more versatile style of play."

Low also revealed he was expecting almost all his players to be fit, apart from forward Cacau, who has a strained stomach muscle.

He said: "It looks at the moment that all players will be fit with the exception of Cacau, who had a slight problem in training.

"We will have to wait and see if he is available for selection."

Midfielder Sami Khedira was a doubt after missing training on Sunday, but he is expected to get over his thigh problem.

The Germans will definitely be without one of their stars of the tournament, Thomas Mueller, after his two yellow cards earned him an automatic one-match suspension.