Sweden next for buoyant Germans
Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (C) and his teammates attend a training session in Berlin
Fresh from hammering Ireland in Dublin, Germany host Sweden at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday looking for another convincing win to keep them top of their World Cup qualifying group.
The Germans ran Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland ragged on Friday in a 6-1 victory with Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus and Bayern Munich’s Toni Kroos both scoring twice.
In contrast, Sweden had to come from behind at minnows Faroe Islands 2-1 with star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic sparing their blushes.
The Sweden captain hit a 75th-minute winner against the fired-up Faroes who had stunned their guests by taking a shock lead on 57 minutes before Alexander Kacaniklic equalised on 63 minutes.
Sweden picked up their second win and are second in Group C with six points with Germany top with three wins from three games.
“If we maintain this presence, this level of organisation in defence and comfort in our passing game, we will have a good chance (against Sweden),” said Germany coach Joachim Loew.
“If we win this game, it will be a good finish to our competitive matches this year.”
After Bastian Schweinsteiger captained the team against Ireland, Bayern Munich’s Philipp Lahm will return from suspension to take the armband, while Loew is waiting on the fitness of Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira who has a thigh strain.
In the wake of Germany’s 2-1 defeat to Italy in the semi-finals of Euro 2012, Loew’s team has come in for plenty of criticism from the German media, but Reus, who was outstanding against Ireland, said they are back in business.
“That was the football Germany are known for,” said the Dortmund midfielder, who scored both of Germany’s first-half goals.
Questions about the German defence seemed to have been answered in Dublin and while Loew and team manager Oliver Bierhoff are dampening down any euphoria, the head coach certainly painted a more relaxed picture.
“We are always in the spotlight. It is normal that we don’t always catch some sunshine and occasionally some rain falls,” said Loew philosophically, but German Football Federation (DFB) president Wolfgang Nierbacher was far more upbeat.
“That was a wonderful confirmation that we have a great team,” he said after the Ireland win.
With Lahm back at the helm, Germany will want another big win over Sweden to prove the Dublin victory was no fluke.
“It was fun to watch,” said Lahm. “You could see that we played really creative football and that we can take a team like Ireland apart. But now we are only thinking of Sweden, we are fully focused.
“They are a dangerous opponent, perhaps the strongest in the group, but we want to take three more points.”
Veteran striker Miroslav Klose is closing in on Gerd Mueller’s record of 68 goals for Germany.
“If we really prepare well and let the ball do the running, we can get a result,” said the Lazio star who has 65 goals for Germany.
“A lot has been written about the record, but it’s best that I keep my mouth shut and focus on my football.”