Loew: No central move for Lahm
Germany coach Joachim Loew has no plans to move his captain Philipp Lahm into holding midfield, he told a press conference in Duesseldorf on Wednesday.
"Is this a disco?" Loew asked when entering the press conference, held in a TV studio in Dusseldorf. It was not the only question Loew had for the journalists attending the press conference two days before Germany’s clash with Ireland in Cologne on Friday night.
Loew's national side are one step away from booking their flights to Brazil, where they will be among the favourites to win the 2014 World Cup. But despite his success in the qualifying campaign, he has faced criticism from the German media and Bundesliga clubs over several issues.
The criticism was directed at his selections, at his alleged aversion to players from Borussia Dortmund and at singling out of individuals, who voiced their criticism of his style and the German Football Association (DFB) in public. Dortmund defender Mats Hummels recently expressed his displeasure in an interview with German football mag kicker.
Loew explained that he took notice of the criticism and that he talked to Pep Guardiola and Matthias Sammer before calling-up Bayern Munich midfielder Mario Goetze, who has been battling back from injury. It is a decision that had been criticised by Bayern president Uli Hoeness but Loew fought back, saying: "I make the calls and no-one else."
On the subject of his apparent dislike of selecting Dortmund players, he added: "Name just one reason why I should have an aversion against Borussia Dortmund players. There is not a single reason since we have superior goals."
Loew also said that he had spoken to Hummels and told him: “Of course you are able to voice your criticism against the DFB. Everything else would be news to me."
He added at the news conference: "We don’t have any problems with each other, and as the coach I have every right to say something. I think Hummels is on a high level, he is an outstanding centre-back, but needs to adjust a few details for the national team. For me, he belongs among the best centre-backs worldwide."
Loew not only has a range of good centre-backs to choose from, but also has the pleasure of working with Bayern captain Lahm, who has recently been praised as "the most intelligent player I ever worked with" by Guardiola, who currently employs him in a holding midfield role.
However, Loew has no plans to copy Guardiola, saying: "Lahm is the only player in Germany, who can play in all positions. He played on the left, he played on the right and he played in midfield.
"You put him in a position and he delivers. I plan to play him on the right. I can understand where Guardiola is coming from, and I’ve talked to him about it. A modern holding midfielder does not only clear the ball -- the old enforcer is no longer needed in modern football."
Loew went on to name several other Germany players who fulfilled his requirements and then went on to praise Lahm, adding: "He is the best full-back in the world."
Germany only need one more point to qualify for the World Cup, and want to pick this point up in their home game against Ireland. "In our country, in our home," Loew said.
Once the starting berth in Brazil 2014 is secured, another chapter of Loew’s career will be closed.
"That means a lot emotionally. After the disappointment of Euro 2012 this has been a new chapter directly afterwards. Back into the everyday life," he said. "It has always been our goal to qualify as soon as possible and top the group."
Loew also looked ahead to the build-up to the World Cup. After most likely playing England and Italy during the international break in November, Loew will, in 2014, only have one more friendly match against Chile before having to announce his squad for the World Cup.
"The first half of 2014 is extremely difficult,” he said. “The crux of the matter is that we’ll only have one game in five months. That’s unfortunate before such a big tournament."