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Loew demands improvement for Spain

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LEOW-SPAINBERLIN, November 16-Joachim Loew has demanded Germany improve for Tuesday’s friendly against Spain in Vigo after slamming another poor performance by the world champions as their post-Brazil hangover continues.

Germany posted a 4-0 win over minnows Gibraltar in Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifier, but the impressive scoreline failed to mask another ineffective display from Loew’s team following last month’s shock defeat by Poland and draw with Ireland.

European champions Spain go into the friendly on a high having beaten Belarus 3-0 on Saturday to climb to second in qualifying Group C on 9 points behind Slovakia, who have 12.

“We must show that we can still bring a positive end to the World Cup year with a different performance and a different tension (against Spain),” insisted Loew.

“There have been many tributes and celebrations, but we have to free our minds and draw a line (under the World Cup) by the end of the year.

“A few players will perhaps be happy when the World Cup year is finally over.

“It was to be expected that there would be a drop in tempo after such a big success and that the players would be mentally tired.

“I expect that in the new year, the players will come back after a three-week break fresher both physically and mentally.

“(Against Spain), we want to once again show what we’re made of and, possibly, to win, but it’s certainly not a revenge for our previous defeats (in the Euro 2008 final and World Cup 2010 semi-final).” 

Germany has struggled in all five of their internationals since lifting their fourth World Cup title in July, failing to get anywhere near the same level of performance they enjoyed in Brazil.

They lost 4-2 to Argentina in a repeat of the World Cup final in Dussledorf in September, then laboured to a 2-1 home win over Scotland in a Euro 2016 qualifier.

Things went from bad to worse with last month’s shock 2-0 defeat to Poland before Germany conceded a last-minute equaliser to draw 1-1 at home with Ireland.

The results mean they will finish 2014 in the usual position of third in their qualifying group.

For the first time in his seven year reign, the normally mild-mannered Loew was highly critical of his team’s performance against Gibraltar as Germany again produced woeful finishing and failed to convert pressure into goal chances.

 – ‘We’re not on the right path’ –

The expected goal bonanza against the part-timers failed to materialise in Nuremberg with only a Gibraltar own-goal to show for the entire second-half after Thomas Mueller, twice, and Mario Goetze netted in the first 45 minutes.

“I saw nothing from a few of those who could have been imposing,” he said.

“From one or two, who had been given a chance, I had expected more conviction, more drive in front of goal, more threatening play and better finishing.

“I had expected a lot more from Germany.

“We’re not on the right path we need to be on in order to give our opponents some big problems.

“I can’t really be pleased with the result, despite it being a 4-0 win.”

Loew will be without Manuel Neuer in Vigo as the world-class goalkeeper is suffering from discomfort in his right knee, meaning either Borussia Dortmund’s Roman Weidenfeller or Hanover’s Ron-Robert Zieler will start.

The head coach will also be down to his third-choice captain against the European champions after Neuer deputised as skipper for defencive midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Midfielders Andre Schuerrle, Marco Reus and Christoph Kramer all missed the Gibraltar win with injury, meaning Loew has just 17 fit outfield players and two goalkeepers for Vigo with no plans for any replacement call-ups.

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