Evian (France) (AFP) – Germany coach Joachim Loew is relishing facing hosts France in Thursday’s Euro 2016 semi-final despite a mounting injury list.
“It’s great that there’s a game like this. I love playing knockout games against teams of this calibre,” said Loew in Evian on Monday.
Loew’s cause for optimism over the Marseille semi-final is not obvious, with three key players definitely ruled out, while captain Bastian Schweinsteiger is doubtful with a new knee injury.
Germany have defender Mats Hummels suspended while Mario Gomez and Sami Khedira are out with injury — Gomez for the rest of the tournament.
As Loew acknowledged, France were buoyed by Sunday’s 5-2 hammering of minnows Iceland in their quarter-final.
And the hosts can expect near-fanatical support in Marseille, the heartland of the nation’s die-hard fans.
Nevertheless, Loew can barely wait for kick-off as Germany rest after Saturday’s tense quarter-final penalty shootout win over Italy.
“I’m not worried about who the favourite is,” said Germany’s head coach.
“It would be easy to say that we have a few injuries and France are favourites as they played really well. But that does not matter at all over 90 or 120 minutes.
“It is like it was against Italy: a game of two teams with outstanding individuals. Both have a clear direction, even if France naturally plays offensively. I love games like this.”
Loew said Schweinsteiger, who has a strained knee, will only face France if fully fit.
The Manchester United star had only recently recovered from tearing the medial ligament in his right knee in March.
“If a player is less than 100 percent fit, then I won’t play him,” said Loew.
“I made that mistake once before in my career and I won’t do it again.”
Loew refused to be drawn on the mistake he referred to — passing it off from earlier in his career as a club coach.
But he has been in this situation before with Germany.
Loew played Michael Ballack in the Euro 2008 final, when Germany were beaten 1-0 by Spain, when the midfielder was carrying a calf injury.
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