Sports News of Fri, 4 Jul 20140
Low delighted with Germany's tactical strength
They may not have been at their best against France but the 54-year-old was pleased with how his players adapted to an altered line-up
Germany boss Joachim Low believes his side’s tactical flexibility will be an advantage heading into the World Cup semi-finals – although he maintains the South American teams should be considered tournament favourites due to the conditions.
Germany eased into the last four with a 1-0 defeat of France in Rio on Friday with Low opting to shuffle his pack to include centre-forward Miroslav Klose and shift captain Philipp Lahm to his more accustomed full-back slot.
It was hard to gauge the impact of the changes in a tight game which was settled by Mats Hummels' early header, but Low was pleased to have options at his disposal.
He said: "Both teams showed a great performance on the defensive side. There were not lots of goalscoring opportunities. We were always trying to push the opponents, always stepping on their toes and we were able to control the danger posed by [Karim] Benzema.
"When we analysed France we knew they had two big central defenders and with [Yohan] Cabaye and [Paul] Pogba in midfield we knew it was difficult to go through the middle so I decided to use the sides. That's why I played Lahm down the wings.
"The players are always informed of what I have in mind and there are conversations with them. It is no surprise for them, we have played this way before.
"This is one of our tactical strengths in that we can play different ways. Against Algeria it was one specific formation, today it was another with Klose in attack and trying to keep the two full-backs busy. France have many players through the middle so we had to play wide and Lahm is very good at that."
Playing Lahm at right-back meant Jerome Boateng moved into the centre at the expense of Per Mertesacker.
In explaining the decision, Low said: "To use Boateng and Hummels was for tactical reasons as I have seen [Mathieu] Valbuena and [Antoine] Griezmann play and they will always have great speed going forward. I thought Jerome and Mats could solve that problem.
"I spoke with Per last night and he showed a terrific reaction."
The win means Germany have now qualified for the semi-finals at the last four World Cups but Low believes the conditions hand the South American teams an edge.
He added: "I think the Latin American teams have a home advantage, you can't deny that. In 2006 in Germany we had three or four semi-finalists from Europe. Now the South Americans are fighting for their lives. They know the climate and they have an advantage being on their home turf.
"It is not easy for us Europeans with 1pm kick-offs. It was extremely hot, you can hardly breathe. It is difficult to try to keep control of the match, to maintain the level of concentration and then you make mistakes. The next match will be at 5pm and the sun will be lower."
Although Hummels was named Man of the Match, Germany were still indebted to goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for some vital saves, particulary during the closing minutes, and Low believes the Bayern Munich man is among the best in the world.
"The confidence in Manuel Neuer does not just come from me or the staff, he has the confidence of the whole team. It's a really great feeling for the defenders knowing he is very good in the box and good outside the box. He is a great football player, you can pass balls to him like a defender," he added.
"Since 2010 he has possibly been the best in the world, he is so cool and calm and this gives the other players confidence."