Germany guards against complacency vs Kazakhstan
NUREMBERG, Germany (AP) — Germany is playing down World Cup expectations and battling complacency ahead of its second back-to-back qualifier against Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
Joachim Loew’s side leads Group C with four wins from five games and is looking for another routine victory to follow Friday’s 3-0 result over winless Kazakhstan in Astana.
“It is a bit unusual to be playing the same opponent twice in quick succession,” said Loew, who warned his players against overconfidence. “If you win away, naturally there’s the danger that stays in the mind.”
Kazakhstan has scored just one goal and claimed one point so far, and Loew is doing all he can to maintain his side’s concentration.
“We have to remind the players they are playing at home and that we only win when attitude and professionalism are taken into account,” Loew said.
While qualification already looks assured, team manager Oliver Bierhoff says winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is “almost impossible” for Germany due to logistics of playing across such a large country and given European teams’ previous lack of success there. Bierhoff also pointed to the strength of South American teams on their own continent.
Loew called up Hamburger SV defensive midfielder Marcell Jansen and the uncapped Borussia Moenchengladbach attacking midfielder Patrick Herrmann to replenish his depleted squad on Sunday.
Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is ruled out after picking up a booking in Friday’s game, while Schalke attacking midfielder Julian Draxler suffered a concussion after a collision early in the match.
“You can chance one or two little things but we don’t want to take any risks. We’re still taking the opponent seriously, the call-ups show that,” Bierhoff said.
Midfielder Sven Bender had already rejoined the squad after recovering from flu, while Borussia Dortmund teammate Marco Reus also returned after serving out a suspension.
Jansen last played for Germany in September 2010 and Bierhoff said he deserved another chance to impress.
“Marcell has gone through a strong phase. He is another alternative to (left back) Marcel Schmelzer, who has played a lot of games for Dortmund,” Bierhoff said.
Herrmann was to join the squad after playing for the under-21s in Israel on Monday.
“I couldn’t believe it at first,” the 22-year-old Herrmann said. “The call-up was totally unexpected for me. That makes it even better to be involved for the first time.”
Bayern striker Mario Gomez and Schalke defender Benedikt Hoewedes are both carrying niggling thigh problems but could yet feature.
Mario Goetze played the “false nine” role to good effect in Astana, capping his performance with a goal, and the Dortmund midfielder is likely to fill the role again on Tuesday even if Gomez is fit.
“I have no problem with this position,” Goetze said. “It gives us another variation of another system, making us harder to predict.”
Sami Khedira said Germany still has work to do before aiming for World Cup titles.
“Germany is always among the tournament favorites. But I believe our task has to improve our game further and to find ourselves more as a team,” the Real Madrid midfielder told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper. “We have many talented young players that we have to integrate to become even more unpredictable. I find that to be more important now than worrying about whether we can be world champions.”