Under pressure Joachim gives the low down on Schweinsteiger
REP OF IRELAND v GERMANY: GAVIN CUMMISKEYgets a taste of German efficiency and hopes it won’t be replicated at the Aviva tonight
THE GERMANS were late into yesterday’s press conference. Not that manager Joachim Löw was to blame. No, the ever suave looking 52-year-old strolled into the media room at precisely 13.30 hours.
“Good afternoon,” he greeted the largely German gathering, before calmly strolling across the stage and exiting through the far door.
Some travelling reporters were delayed at Dublin airport. So, it was our fault after all.
Otherwise, the expected efficiency from tonight’s opponents was immediately evident. Trust the Germans to not only come to Dublin and show us how to play football but they also fixed our long festering communications problem.
Translation devices! One for every journalist in the audience. We followed instructions and switched to channel four then waited patiently for the dulcet tones that brought clarity to what has become a ridiculously theatrical situation.
Understanding Giovanni Trapattoni solved in one fell swoop. Can we get them for every future contact with the Italian?
Maybe the Irish players could insert ear pieces when shuttling around the Malahide training ground so they can understand Trapattoni’s pigeon English (apologies to any pigeons who have taken offence).
Again, this is unlikely to actually occur.
So, what did we learn from Löw yesterday? We know he is under pressure ever since Mario Balotelli exploded to life in last summer’s Euro 2012 semi-final.
He began by addressing concerns about a defence that has lost captain Philipp Lahm to suspension and Borussia Dortmund centre-half Mats Hummels to injury.
“Some changes have been pressed upon us but we have done some very good training sessions with some experienced players who have played in the back four many times.”
We didn’t have the heart to ask whether he feared the threat of Jonathan Walters.
“Of course defending starts at the top . . . ”
There followed confirmation that Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira will be in midfield with Löw also dealing with recent comments by Schweinsteiger about the spirit within the German camp paling in comparison to what he experiences at Bayern Munich.
“Bastian explained to me what his feelings were during the Euros,” said Löw.
“He himself wasn’t all too happy. He was dejected having given away the German championship to Dortmund and having lost the Champions League final. It brought him down, mentally speaking.
“He gave me a piece of his mind and we had a very fruitful discussion about it and he just felt that maybe the odd detail could be changed for the better in the German camp.”
So, that’s that sorted? Not exactly. “I certainly told him that I didn’t have that feeling. Many of you were at the European Championships, were you not? You saw the pre-tournament preparation period and everyone confirmed that the mood in the German camp was fantastic.
“Having said that, you have got to consider we are together for seven, eight weeks and the incredible psychological pressure on all parties concerned.”
Conflict between the new captain and coach remains unresolved. Sounds like it could boil over yet.
Löw was also conscious not to get sucked into a condescending tone when the Irish supporters were mentioned as the greatest threat to gaining three points. He even argued that Ireland performed well for a time against Spain last June.
“I expect the Irish team to go full steam ahead, to do a good deal of tackling but I also expect my team to be there from the word go. I think we will see a different match from what we saw against Spain.”