Low looks at his German options
Soccer:Germany coach Joachim Low has said Bastian Schweinsteiger is fully fit and ready to start Thursday’s Euro 2012 semi-final against Italy.
The midfielder has been struggling with an ankle problem and Low admitted he was “poor” in the 4-2 quarter-final victory over Greece. But the Bayern Munich player was able to play a full part in training and is set to retain his place.
“Schweinsteiger had problems, but it’s not as if these were hindering him,” Low said. “Against Greece he was poor, but he realises that himself. Against Italy that won’t happen. There are only 100% fit players. No player will run out if he is only operating at 80 or 90% capacity. All players are fit, I assume Schweinsteiger will play.”
Germany, the favourites along with Spain to win the European Championship, are the only team to have won every game in the competition so far, but produced an error-strewn performance against the Greeks. Italy scraped past England on penalties to reach the last four, although they were the better side over the 120 minutes, with midfielder Andrea Pirlo especially impressive.
But Low claimed he would not be asking anyone to man-mark the Juventus player.
“That would make no sense,” he said. Low admitted, though, the team his side will face tomorrow are a very different outfit from the one which failed to make it out of the group at the last World Cup.
“The Italians have a very different team from 2010 and excellent progress behind them,” he added. “They have good strengths, a lot of quality. But we also know where their weaknesses lie, where they have their problems. We have to bring our own game, not focus so much on the opponents. If we manage to do that, then we have a good chance.”
Perhaps Low’s biggest selection dilemma is over which of Mario Gomez or Miroslav Klose to play up front. Gomez is the joint top-scorer in the tournament with three goals, but it was Klose who got the nod against Greece and pressed his claims to keep his place with a goal.
“I am assuming that I will play,” the experienced Klose said. “That’s what I am preparing for in any case. But we are lucky to have two top strikers. We’ll wait and see which one the coach will pick.”
Klose plays his club football in Italy with Lazio, having joined the Rome club last summer, but he has not given Low any inside information.
“I don’t need to give the coach any tips,” he added. “Our scouts have watched Italy many times, the coach knows what to do.”
Should they win, Germany will take on either Spain or Portugal in the final on Sunday.