Germany coach Loew happy despite tough Euro 2012 challenge
By Barry Whelan Dec 2, 2011, 20:51 GMT
Kiev - Germany coach Joachim Loew gave the impression of a man who who had just discovered a 100 euro note on the street rather than a coach who had landed in potential Euro 2012 trouble.
Not only was Loew's highly-fancied squad drawn in potentially the most difficult group of the tournament, his hopes that Germany would at least get to play in Poland were also dashed.
Germany now have long trips to Kharkiv and Lviv in Ukraine from their planned base near the Polish Baltic Sea coast, to face three awkward customers in old foes the Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark, a team always motivated to get one over their neighbours.
But Loew, talking to reporters after the draw in Kiev's National Palace of Arts, gave every indication he was not particularly bothered, or that his travel plans had suddenly become more complicated.
'We are looking forward to playing this group. It is good that we start like this in this tournament,' Loew said of the nearest group in the draw worthy of the sobriquet 'group of death.'
Germany begin in Lviv against Portugal June 9, with Cristiano Ronaldo's Portuguese aiming to avenge a 3-2 quarter-final loss from four years ago.
They then play the Dutch - a team they last month beat 3-0 in a friendly in Hamburg - on June 13 in Kharkiv, before taking on Denmark back in Lviv on June 17.
If Germany win group B, they would at least go to Gdansk - near to the base they have chosen in Poland - to play the runner-up of group A, regarded as the weakest of the four groups. If they finish runners-up, they would face the group A winner in Warsaw.
'It is a very open group in which all the teams are capable of playing good football,' Loew said. 'There is no clear favourite in the group, all are capable of making a mark.'
Loew said the fact that his side had recently beaten the Dutch comprehensively meant nothing because Bert van Marwijk's team 'did not show their true strength in this match.'
He added: 'But they are the number two in the world and were in the World Cup final. At Euro 2008 they were also sensationally good in their first three matches. It will be a great game.'
Denmark were meanwhile 'a tournament team' who were well organized and disciplined. 'When they lose then its always close. As far as their character is concerned they are very tough players and have no fear no matter who they are up against,' Loew said.
Portugal, meanwhile, are one of the best ball-playing sides around. 'They have world-class players at top clubs. Portugal play attacking football and so do Denmark. It will be attractive,' he said.
A consolation for Loew is that Germany at least avoided world and European champions Spain, the team Germany lost to at the Euro 2008 finl and 2010 World Cup semi-finals.
In fact, Germany and Spain will avoid each other right up the final in Kiev on July 1 if they win their respective groups and then progress through the quarter-finals and semi-finals.
Loew meanwhile played down the fact that his squad would have to play all their group games in Ukraine, making it also a long and difficult trip for fans.
'You have to fly anyway - one hour or an hour and a half, it's never less most of the time,' Loew said.
'It was no different in South Africa. Maybe we will be playing ghe quarter-final or semi-final in Poland. At Euro 2008 we also had our base in Switzerland and flew to Vienna.'
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