Having already accounted for one of the world’s best in Lionel Messi, Joachim Loew is turning his attention to Spain’s big guns.
The Euro 2008 winners have flown under the radar somewhat in South Africa after blitzing all comers two years ago, but Loew is more than aware there’s enough quality in Spain’s ‘team of Messis’ to challenge Germany’s charge towards a fourth World championship.
But having seen his players shut down Messi – who was admittedly suffering from a cold – so effectively in Germany’s 4-0 demolition of Argentina last Saturday night, Loew is laying a similar trap for key Spanish playmakers Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
“They’ve played together for a long time at Barcelona,” Loew said. “That’s what makes the difference. But if we get on top of them and put them under pressure as we did with Messi, that will be the key to the match.”
Although, Germany’s midfield will be weakened through the absence of Thomas Mueller, who scored the opener against Argentina, Loew has virtually a full squad to choose from as he confirmed that Sami Khedira should be fit to play, despite missing last Sunday’s recovery session with a slight thigh problem.
However, Cacau may be facing a race against time to play against Spain as he recovers from a back complaint that came hot on the heels of a strained stomach muscle last week.
“It looks at the moment that all players will be fit with the exception of Cacau, who had a slight problem in training,” Loew said. “We will have to wait and see if he is available for selection.”
In other German news, injured skipper Michael Ballack may have a fight on his hands to regain the captaincy from his stand-in, Philipp Lahm.
Speaking to Bild Lahm said that Ballack, forced to sit out SA2010 after breaking his ankle while playing for Chelsea in the FA Cup final last May, had not given an answer on whether he wanted to continue as skipper.
“The captain’s role has brought me a lot of pleasure,” said Lahm. “It’s a real joy. Why would I want to give it back? I’d love to keep the armband, I want more responsibilities. But we will see what happens.”