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Loew braced for Portugal task

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 7 Jun 2012

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Germany coach Joachim Loew is anticipating a close encounter against Portugal on Saturday.

The Germans lock horns with Paulo Bento’s side in their opening Euro 2012 match four years after sending Portugal packing at the quarter-final stage of the tournament in Austria and Switzerland.

Portugal’s back line has been suggested as the team’s weakest link, but Loew is taking nothing for granted in the build-up to the match.

“For me, Portugal are one of the best technical sides in the world,” he told reporters.

“Pepe and Bruno Alves have international experience and that is why I have to say that this is a different team from the one in 2008.

“I expect an open game and a match on an equal footing. Both teams are willing to win the match.

“We will not speculate, but anticipate. Portugal are able to play very quickly and in a technical way. Cristiano Ronaldo is very good at running deep, so we have to close down the passing lanes.

“We must help each other, but that does not mean that we will have two men marking one specific player.

“We must stand against the players one-on-one, because otherwise there will be free players.”

The 52-year-old coach then confirmed that Philipp Lahm will start at left-back against Portugal, but admitted that he still has doubts about who will play on the other side of the defence.

“Lahm will start on the left side, like he did during the last matches,” Loew said. “For the national team it is good to have him there.

“On the right side of the defence we have Jerome Boateng, but Lars Bender has made impressive progress and left a good impression during our trainings sessions.

“We will see what we will do for the match against Portugal.”

Loew’s squad were visited by German chancellor Angela Merkel at their hotel in Gdansk on Wednesday.

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