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Lahm's captaincy remarks raise hackles

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Lahm's captaincy remarks raise hackles
Photo: DPA
08:43 CEST+02:00
Hints of irritation plagued the German World Cup team ahead of its semi-final clash with Spain on Wednesday following skipper Philipp Lahm's untimely announcement that he never wanted to hand the captaincy back to Michael Ballack.

While coach Joachim Löw shrugged off Lahm's admission to the Bild newspaper on Tuesday, manager Oliver Bierhoff was less sanguine.

“The timing is not all that fortunate,” Bierhoff said Tuesday. “Any discussion is unnecessary. At the end of the day, it's all an issue that has no role to play this week. Right now, it's about being successful in the last two games. Everything else comes after that and is ultimately a decision for the trainers.”

Lahm had told Bild: "The captain's role has brought me a lot of pleasure. It's a real joy. Why would I want to give it back?"

The sense of disquiet came as Germany prepared for Wednesday's night's semi-final clash against reigning European champions Spain, who admitted they faced a much stronger German side than the one they beat to take the Euro 2008 cup.

German striker Lukas Podolski has spoken of his desire to avenge the defeat by the Spaniards in Vienna two years ago, when Fernando Torres's strike settled a match in which Podolski was head-butted by David Silva in an incident missed by the officials.

Xavi Alonso, the Real Madrid midfielder, insisted that any hangover from that match would have no impact on Wednesday's contest.

"Once you go on to the pitch, history is not important," the former Liverpool star said. "The important thing is how we plan to handle this match, our motivation and attention to even the slightest details. In a World Cup, the small details can send you home."

Germany's four-goal hammerings of England and Argentina in their last two outings have underlined the potency of Löw's rejuvenated squad and their pace, power and clinical finishing has made a strong impression on his Spanish counterpart Vicente Del Bosque.

"I think Germany are greatly improved since 2008," Del Bosque admitted. "Their squad has undergone a renewal with important young players coming through but they have maintained the traditional values of German football.

"They have players of high quality with good technical skills. They have their moments when they attack and when they fall back. They have strong individuals who can make the difference in the match, so it is going to be an interesting meeting of two strong teams."

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