|(World Cup qualifiers) Germans fix defensive holes
Defensive frailties are no cause for worry ahead of football World Cup qualifiers against Austria and the Faeroe Islands, according to Germany coach Joachim Loew.
“We'll score more goals than we concede against Austria. I'm counting on that,'' said Loew, whose team has conceded nine goals in its last three games.
Qualification from Group C all but assured if Germany beat Austria in Munich tomorrow and then win in the Faeroe Islands four days later.
But goals conceded in the 3-3 draw with Paraguay, 4-3 loss to the United States and 4-2 win over Ecuador have led to concerns that a soft underbelly harms the team's chances of succeeding.
The German coach is clearly irritated by the debate.
“Look at the qualification games for the 2012 European Championship, whether we conceded many goals,'' Loew said. “And please simply tell the difference between qualification games, tournament games, friendly games and preparation games.''
Loew, who has been in charge since he was promoted as Juergen Klinsmann's assistant after the 2006 World Cup, brushed aside criticism of his attacking brand of football _ a style which has won plenty of admirers for its attractive and exciting play, but is undermined by the problems in defense.
“We have to find the right balance. I've said that [before],’’ Loew said. “We won't go back and play defensively, only on the counterattack. A good team has to be strong offensively and then do the right things in defense. But that doesn't mean having the whole setup geared toward defending.''
Both Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ilkay Guendogan are injured, meaning Sven Bender or Toni Kroos will likely line up beside Sami Khedira in midfield. Another candidate, Sven's twin brother Lars, is also out with a hip problem.
Austria have not beaten Germany since a 4-1 friendly win in Vienna on October 29, 1986, and Germany have lost only two of its 80 World Cup qualifiers since 1934.
However, Germany have won none of its four World Cup or European Championship qualifiers in Munich, where their record is two defeats and two scoreless draws.
Several Austrian players ply their trade in the Bundesliga, including Bayern Munich midfielder David Alaba, Schalke defender Christian Fuchs and Stuttgart striker Martin Harnik, while Marko Arnautovic left Werder Bremen in the offseason.
Motivation for Austria's first competitive win over Germany since a 3-2 win at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina is high.
Austria would greatly boost their chances of a playoff place with a win. With four games remaining in Group C, Austria, Sweden and Ireland have 11 points each, five behind Germany.
Ireland host Sweden tomorrow and visit Austria on Tuesday, when Sweden visit Kazakhstan.--AP