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Penalty kings Germany taking nothing for granted

Germany are the uncrowned kings of World Cup penalty shoot-outs, but coach Joachim Loew is taking nothing for granted ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final against Argentina.

Germany beat Argentina 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out four years ago when spot-kicks decided their quarter-final clash at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium at the last World Cup as the hosts finished third.

Ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was the hero of the hour then as he saved penalties by Roberto Ayala and Esteban Cambiasso after theatrically reading a briefing note just before the spot-kicks to put off the pair.

“Four years ago, we relied on a piece of paper against Argentina, this time we would need a catalogue,” joked Loew in reference to the amount of talented penalty-takers Argentina have.

“This time, Argentina have so many safe shooters in their ranks, that we can’t get by with just a note.”

Germany are the only side who have never lost a penalty shoot-out at World Cup finals and have won all four of the dreaded spot-kick deciders they have faced since the first in 1982.

Schalke 04 goalkeeper Manuel Neuer could well be Germany’s star on Saturday, but the confident 24-year-old said he will put his faith in those around him.

“I will rely on the advice of (goalkeeping coach) Andreas Koepke,” he said.

Striker Lukas Podolski is the only survivor from the four players who successfully converted penalties in the quarter-final four years ago and Loew has already put his side through some penalty practice.

“Everyone took two penalties,” said Loew, without revealing the results.

“The stress and tension in the stadium during the match is completely different.

“There is a different pressure in a stadium packed full of spectators

“You can’t really simulate a penalty shoot-out.”

Loew has said he will only choose the five players who would take penalties in the event of the scores being level after 120 minutes of football just before the dreaded spot-kicks.

Podolski, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira and Miroslav Klose are the likely takers, but captain Philipp Lahm and rising star Thomas Mueller are also reliable penalty takers.

Germany’s rising stars have been given some advice by Andreas Brehme whose penalty kick in the 1990 World Cup final sealed the 1-0 win over Argentina and gave the Germans their third World Cup title.

“You have to believe in yourself, don’t think about it too much and just make it a simple kick,” he told SID, an AFP subsidiary.

Wed 30 June, 2010
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