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German coach tones down

By Martin Parry 02/07/2010 10:21:54 PM Comments (0)

German coach Joachim Loew on Friday sought to tone down a raging war of words ahead of their World Cup quarter-final against Argentina, but also said he expected a cut-throat battle.

The two teams share a long history and intense rivalry and barbs have been traded ahead of their crunch game here on Saturday.

Earlier this week, Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger accused Argentina of being disrespectful, pointing to how they gesticulate and try to influence the referee.

It prompted Diego Maradona to say Germany were running scared.

In his pre-match press conference, Loew said Argentina pushed their game to the limit but he had no problem with how they played or behaved.

"What Schweinsteiger said was his personal view. We have got freedom of speech in the German team," he said.

"For me, I have never thought they played unfairly or violently. They fight hard, but not unfairly. Argentina are a very passionate team, they are fully committed. It's just their mentality.

"But let me say we have great respect for Argentina. I have always said they play very physically, they use their room and go to their limits. It's typical of South American teams."

The two teams go back a long way, with the Argentines beating Germany in the 1986 final before losing to them in the 1990 decider.

More recently, they met at the same stage in 2006 with Jurgen Klinsmann's side going through 4-2 on penalties.

That shootout ended in a brawl when the South Americans reacted angrily after Germany's Jens Lehmann saved Esteban Cambiasso's spot-kick to confirm victory.

Loew said he didn't plan for Saturday's game to go that far, alluding to the melee after the penalties.

"In 2006, it only got out of hand after the penalty shots. We want to decide the match before a penalty shootout," he said.

"I don't think either team wants it to go into a shootout. It's just a lottery and comes down to nerves."

With that in mind, he predicted an attacking game with so much at stake.

"Argentina are extremely dangerous. I'm sure they will try and get a goal very soon. I don't think they'll come onto the pitch with any extra fear or respect," said Loew.

"Both teams will be strong in forward play and go for the goals.

"We know it's going to be a cut-throat fight on the pitch and we are fully aware of the fact that we'll have to play and win against a team of the highest possible calibre."

Germany's young team go into the game with injury clouds hanging over Lukas Podolski and Mesut Ozil.

"Podolski had a hardening in his muscle and we decided to be cautious and give him some physio sessions," said Loew about the attacking midfielder who scored in the 4-1 rout of England.

"The plan is for him to contribute and take part in the final training session, if he were to fail the test we will have to look at other options."

Loew expects Ozil to play and said he wanted to give the 21-year-old dynamo some rest after a long season.

"Mesut was part of the Germany Under-21 team which won the European Championships last June and he didn't have much of a break," he said.

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