Germany coach Joachim Low on
Tuesday refused to be drawn into the political discussion
surrounding his team's Euro 2012 quarter-final against Greece,
saying for him it was a "normal" football match.
The game, billed by the media of both countries as the clash
of the eurozone, pits the eurozone's problem child against its
rich northern paymaster.
"[German Chancellor] Angela Merkel and us, we have a good
relationship and an agreement that she does not advise me on the
line-ups and I do not advise her on political statements," Low
"It is just a normal quarter-final game against Greece and
nothing else," Low said.
Merkel is a deeply unpopular figure in Greece for the tough
austerity principles she has imposed on the country mired in
debt. Greek players on Monday also steered clear from talking
about politics in relation to the game against Germany.
Low, however, did not hesitate to comment on Greece
playmaker Giorgos Karagounis' absence due to suspension.
Karagounis scored the only goal against Russia.
"I think he is the one who has been having the big ideas in
the Greek game for years. He is the connection between the
defence and the players in attack and for Greece his absence is
Germany advanced after topping Group B with their best-ever
European Championship group stage performance of three straight
wins while Greece stunned Russia 1-0 on their final Group A
match to qualify behind the Czech Republic.
"Greece will not be an easy opponent. They are
uncomfortable," said central defender Holger Badstuber. "They
will defend well but will also, no doubt, have their offensive
"We need to be focused and not take this game lightly just
because they are a small team."
Low's squad trained on Tuesday without Mesut Ozil, Bastian
Schweinsteiger and Lars Bender, all nursing minor knocks after
the 2-1 win over Denmark on Sunday.
"This is purely a precautionary measure. They are all fit,"
the 52-year-old coach said.
Ozil, a key player in the Germans' run to third place at the
2010 World Cup, has yet to shine in this tournament but Low
said it would happen.
"There will still be an Ozil explosion in this tournament.
Just like in South Africa after the group stage," he said.
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