GERMANY COACH Joachim Loew insisted he will leave the Eurozone politics to Chancellor Angela Merkel and focus solely on football ahead of Friday’s Euro 2012 quarter-final against Greece.
The Gdansk quarter-final is being billed as the battle of the two nations at the heart of the Eurozone crisis with one Greek paper running the headline “Bring us Merkel!” after their team qualified for the knock-out phase.
Merkel has provoked anger in Greece for leading the calls on Athens to impose tough austerity measures in return for financial assistance from Germany to help to bring down debt.
The German squad has already fielded numerous questions as to whether politics will play a role on Friday and Loew politely refrained from bringing Merkel’s politics into the match yesterday.
“Angela Merkel and the national team are on very good terms,” said Loew in Tuesday’s press conference. ”We have reached an agreement where she doesn’t interfere with my tactical instructions and, in return, I don’t deal with her political agenda.
“As far as we are concerned, we are approaching a normal football contest and that is the end of it.”
Centre-back Holger Badstuber said while the political situation gives Europe’s media plenty to write about, the players will have their own problems to worry about on the pitch.
“There is an inevitability there, that the political context will be cited time and again, but it doesn’t have much relevance for us,” he admitted. ”Maybe it is different for the Greeks as they are playing for national pride, but we will be focusing on the football and the football only.
“It is beyond us what people make of the political connotations.”
Germany beat Denmark 2-1 in Lviv on Sunday to qualify for the last eight and will face Greece at the Gdansk Arena, near their base, after playing their three Group B matches in Ukraine. Greece will be without suspended captain and midfielder Giorgos Karagounis, who is one of only three survivors from the squad which won the 2004 Euro title in Portugal.
“I think he is the mental engine of the team,” said the 52-year-old Loew. ”For many years, he has been their distributor, schemer and play-maker.
“It will be a painful experience for the Greeks to not have him in the squad.”