Germany coach Löw: ‘The Euro is a marathon’

Germany coach Löw: 'The Euro is a marathon'
Photo: DPA
Joachim Löw, the coach of the German national football team, discusses the team’s first match on Sunday against Poland and looks forward to the rest of the Euro 2008 tournament.

How content are you – aside from getting three points – with your team’s performance?

Löw: Naturally we’re content with the first win. As coach you always ask yourself right up to the kickoff of such a tournament where the team is after a preparatory phase without serious competition. The team played very well. We were a unit that was focused on winning the match. It was a demonstration of will and concentration.

How do rate the performance of Lukas Podolski? And is his move to the leftwing simply an alternative or now a permanent solution?

Löw: The whole team – not just Lukas Podolski – put in a good performance. Lukas Podolski scored both goals. When he finishes, when he’s constantly in motion, when he comes from the deep into the box he’s extremely dangerous. I think he can handle both positions. The 1-0 was played out nicely by Mario Gomez and Miro Klose, who in the situtation right before passed very well to Gomez. The combinations and the quality of play were excellent overall.

How was the first tournament match for you personally as head coach?

Löw: It was normal. We already had a few qualification matches that were also very important. It was a nice experience for me to have the sole responsibility while sitting on the bench. As coach, you always get wired during a match. You experience all the emotions. This match – before the 2-0 happened – was on the edge. The opponent risks everything when he’s behind. It’s normal that dangerous situations develop out of that.

How was the mood in the locker room?

Löw: The mood was good, the mood was relaxed. The team is under a lot of pressure ahead of a tournament.

You substituted for Clemens Fritz shortly after the half. Was he injured, was he tired or what was the reason?

Löw: He wasn’t injured. But he played at a fast pace for 50 minutes and had to cover a lot of ground. All four players on the wings, Jansen, Podolski, Lahm and Fritz covered enormous ground and created a lot of pressure. I wanted to put in a fresh player and we had an option to do so with Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Why is Lukas Podolski so prominent in the national team when he failed to have a great season at Bayern Munich?

Löw: Lukas performed well for Bayern Munich when he played. We made the most of the three weeks of preparations. Lukas had no problem with the intensive training. He has an unbelievable physical potential, speed and good endurance. He was incredibly mobile and active during training. He’s always performed well for the national team. And over the past two years and during the World Cup he was actually always a top performer for us.

Before the tournament’s start there was criticism for the team’s defensive behaviour. What’s your take?

Löw: The defence took care of business over long periods of time. All four defenders played with vigilance and the central defenders rarely made coordination mistakes. The team also played well in the midfield over long periods. And Jens Lehmann was actually secure with many balls and performed well.

Where do you see more potential to improve?

Löw: Now the tournament has started and it’s important that we’ve won a match. But it was just the beginning and the Euro is a marathon. There’s still a lot of work to be done and improvements to be made.

Documented by Klaus Bergmann, dpa.