Löw to lay down the law ahead of England friendly

AFP - [email protected] • 17 Nov, 2008 Updated Mon 17 Nov 2008 09:24 CEST
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Germany coach Joachim Löw will on Monday lay down the law to his players after last month's public spat with captain Michael Ballack, as his side prepares for its Berlin friendly against England.


Germany and England will meet at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night, but Löw will gather his squad at their city centre hotel to spell out what is acceptable behaviour after last month's bust-up with Ballack.

During the 30-minute speech, Löw will leave his players in no doubt of what is acceptable behaviour over the next 18 months on the road to South Africa with his side top of their qualifying group.

"It will be a clear and frank address," Löw told German tabloid Bild am Sonntag. "It will not be a debate nor a discussion. I want to make it absolutely clear how I imagine the run-up to the next World Cup will be - and exactly what I expect from the players. I believe that they will take my words on board, they will not need a written copy of what I have to say."

Having taken over as Germany head coach after the 2006 World Cup, Löw faced by far the biggest test of his tenure when Ballack and fellow senior player Torsten Frings openly criticised the national coach last month.

Frings slammed Löw on television for dropping him for the World Cup qualifiers against Russia and Wales, while, in an interview with a German newspaper, Ballack said the coach should show his senior players more respect.

The pair later apologised in person and both will miss the England friendly with Löw saying he wants to use the game to experiment with younger players. But the coach's authority has been questioned after an episode in which no party emerged with any credit.

"That is a question of the respect," said Löw when asked about Ballack and Frings. "We have in principle a good relationship with one another. But these incidents moved the national team into a negative light.

"That does not mean I am above criticism, quite the opposite - I am even glad when someone says something to me internally."

After Ballack and Frings' criticisms, Löw has reiterated he will not consider a player's reputation when choosing his side and current form is his sole criteria for selection.

"It is of no concern what someone has done before," said Löw. "We will observe players and only after watching their performances will we decide who plays."

And Germany squad members can expect stringent testing throughout next year as Löw revealed he was far from happy with some of the fitness levels at June's Euro 2008 tournament which the Germans lost in the final to Spain.

"Some things were neglected," said Löw. "I want to know exactly in which physical condition the players are. At the Euro, some players did not maintain their fitness for the whole tournament on a high level and that must not be allowed to happen again."

It looks like both England and Germany will use Wednesday's match to experiment and blood new players.

England stars Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard and Joe Cole are all injured and Chelsea defender John Terry could withdraw if scans show he damaged his foot in Saturday's Premier League win over West Bromwich Albion.

And veterans Michael Owen and David Beckham have been left out of Fabio Capello's squad due to a lack of match fitness.

In contrast, Löw has no injury worries. There are three new caps in the Germany squad and Löw is expected to play an inexperienced midfield without Ballack and Frings with Borussia Mönchengladbach teenager Marko Marin expected to start.



AFP 2008/11/17 09:24

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