Munich - Germany head coach Joachim Löw has hit back at criticism of the team and his own methodology in his first public outing since the Nationalmannschaft bowed out of EURO 2012 at the semi-final stage. "We will continue to go down the route we opted for years ago," Löw stressed at a press conference ahead of Wednesday's friendly against Argentina in Frankfurt.
Both Löw and his players came in for widespread public and media criticism in the wake of the 2-1 loss to Italy in the last four of the summer tournament in Poland/Ukraine. The 52-year-old coach accepted responsibility for tactical mistakes that contributed to the defeat, but angrily countered suggestions that team leaders lacked authority, players were spoiled and even that not singing the national anthem had an adverse effect on performances out on the pitch.
"Players such as Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose have led us to a long streak of wins," he pointed out: "We won 15 competitive games in a row before our defeat to Italy - which is a world record." The squad contained a good mixture of players and a clear hierarchy, he continued, on top of which: "Other squads with arguably stronger personalities were knocked out in earlier stages."
Löw also refuted claims his players were too pampered. "Offering the players good conditions doesn't mean they don't have to work hard. We obviously try to maximise their performance-level, but countries such as Spain do just the same."
As to the debate on players with immigrant backgrounds not singing the national anthem indicating a possible lack of total dedication to and identification with playing for Germany," the head coach unequivocally stated, "This allegation... is fatal. It implies they're not good Germans. It's nice to sing the anthem, but that's far from being proof of having the qualities or desire necessary to play for Germany."
Löw accepted responsibility for the defeat against Italy but insisted he will continue to adapt his tactics to each opponent, regardless of the criticism that it was precisely this which led to Germany being knocked out of the competition. "I had a plan and was convinced it would work out. 15 to 20 percent of our strategy will always depend on the opposition. Nevertheless I admit that we didn't apply our own weapons and were a bit too passive, and didn't find the right rhythm to beat Italy."
The head coach hinted that 34-year old Miroslav Klose remains an option for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. "He is still one of the best strikers in the world when on form, so I'll be continuing to count on him."
Löw also indicated that the pecking order in goal behind injured first-choice Manuel Neuer might be up for renewal. "I plan to call up young goalkeepers for the coming encounters, some of whom might still be uncapped." He has already faced criticism on that front from 1899 Hoffenheim coach Markus Babbel, for his decision to start Hannover 96's 23-year old former Manchester United goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler against Argentina - and for replacing Neuer with Borussia Mönchengladbach's Marc-Andre ter Stegen (20) rather than his own new recruit, 30-year-old Tim Wiese.