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Germany´s Loew demands focus for Azerbaijan game

SoccerNews in Bundesliga, European Championships 6 Sep 2010

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Germany coach Joachim Loew demanded a high level of concentration from his World Cup stars on Monday on the eve of their Euro 2012 qualifier against the minnows of Azerbaijan in Cologne.

“We need the points, we need to win this game. When I talk to the players, I get the impression that they want to put in a big performance,” Loew told reporters ahead of the game.

Loew acknowledged it was harder to get motivated for a match against Azerbaijan than “a World Cup game against Argentina, (coach Diego) Maradona and (forward Lionel) Messi,” but insisted his team would be fully focused.

“Of course it would be a massive setback for us if we don’t get the three points… but I am confident we will win,” Loew said.

Germany beat Azerbaijan 4-0 in Hanover and 2-0 in Baku last year in World Cup qualifiers but Loew warned that the away team, managed by German coach Berti Vogts, would be no pushovers.

“These games are always difficult because basically, these teams have nothing to lose,” he said.

Germany beat Belgium 1-0 win in Brussels last Friday to get their Euro 2012 campaign off to a good start.

With Michael Ballack still working his way back to fitness after the ankle injury that kept him out of the World Cup, full-back Philipp Lahm will captain the side again.

Left-back Marcell Jansen is the only casualty from the team that beat Belgium as Werder Bremen’s Per Mertesacker is expected to be named alongside Bayern Munich’s Holger Badstuber in central defence.

Mesut Oezil, Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller will lead Germany’s attack behind striker Miroslav Klose, although Cologne’s Podolski had a quiet game in Brussels and will want to impress at his home stadium.

Loew said he was “sure that Lukas would have an excellent game”.

He also insisted that Ballack was not considering leaving the national side.

“I have never had the impression that Michael Ballack wanted to retire from the national team… I do not know why he would do that,” said Loew.

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