Germany to use winning formula against Argentina

Fri Jul 11, 2014 3:16pm EDT
 
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By Karolos Grohmann

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - It is hard to image Germany coach Joachim Loew making any changes to the team that demolished hosts Brazil 7-1 in the World Cup semi-final for Sunday's final against Argentina after spending much of the tournament tinkering to find the right mix.

It has taken him years to finally put together a team that can seriously challenge for a title and he even needed the first few games of the tournament to shuffle his troops before settling for what could be the strongest Germany side in decades.

Germany's defense had long been their Achilles heel under Loew, who likes his team to attack, as he failed to find a strong central defense partnership and opted instead to rotate partners around Per Mertesacker.

It was only after he dropped the tall yet slow defender in favor of a more versatile partnership between Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels that the Germans finally looked solid at the back.

It took Loew four World Cup matches to be convinced that Boateng, a central defender at club Bayern Munich, was not the appropriate choice as right back with Philipp Lahm having moved into a midfield role.

Reverting his captain to right back, a position he has played for a decade at top level, and Boateng into his natural central defense role, proved key in their 1-0 win over France and the pair remained unchanged for the semi-final as well.

While other coaches may have hesitated before disappointing one of his most experienced players -- Mertesacker -- so late in a tournament, Loew was quick to praise the defender for his support from the bench against France.

  Continued...

 
Germany's national soccer team coach Joachim Loew (C) talks to his players during a training session in Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte July 7, 2014. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger