Low excited about France challenge

EVIAN • Despite a mounting injury list, Germany coach Joachim Low is relishing facing the Euro 2016 hosts in Thursday's semi-final under the motto - "Bring on France".

"It's great that there's a game like this. I love playing knockout games against teams of this calibre," he said yesterday.

Germany have defender Mats Hummels suspended, while forward Mario Gomez and midfielder Sami Khedira are out injured. Moreover, captain Bastian Schweinsteiger is doubtful with a new knee injury.

As Low acknowledged, France are buoyed by Sunday's 5-2 hammering of Iceland and they can expect near-fanatical support in Marseille, the heartland of the nation's die-hard fans.

Nevertheless, Low showed little concern.

"I'm not worried about who the favourite is," he said. "It would be easy to say that we have a few injuries and France are favourites . But that does not matter at all over 90 or 120 minutes.

"It is like it was against Italy - a game of two teams with outstanding individuals. Both have a clear direction, even if France naturally play offensively."

Low was clear that Schweinsteiger will face France only if fully fit.

The Manchester United player had only recently recovered from tearing the medial ligament in his right knee in March.

"If a player is less than 100 per cent fit, then I won't play him," said Low. "I made that mistake once before in my career and I won't do it again."

He refused to be drawn about the mistake he referred to - passing it off from earlier in his career as a club coach.

With Gomez sidelined by a torn thigh muscle, Bayern Munich pair Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze are the most likely options to feature up front against France. Low said both could even start.

"It would be an option (to start Muller up front), but perhaps we'll play with two strikers. I still have to weigh things up," he said.

With Khedira out with a partially torn groin, Low has a bigger problem to solve in the defensive midfield. Liverpool's Emre Can or Borussia Dortmund's Julian Weigl are the most likely candidates to partner Toni Kroos in Marseille.

Low was clear that Joshua Kimmich will stay at right-back, even though he is a defensive midfielder.

"Joshua Kimmich has always played for us in that position (right-back). It was an option to move him there during the Italy match, but not for the game against France, I have other midfield options," Low said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2016, with the headline 'Low excited about France challenge'. Print Edition | Subscribe