Loew Wary of 'Dangerous' Portugal
Germany coach Joachim Loew has labeled Portugal one of the world's most dangerous on the counter-attack and warned his side they can ill afford mistakes in Saturday's Euro 2012 clash.
Germany open their Group B campaign against Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal in Lviv, Ukraine, having also drawn World Cup finalists Holland and Denmark in Group B.
The Germans have enjoyed plenty of recent success against Portugal after beating them both in the quarterfinals at Euro 2008 and in the third-place play-off at the 2006 World Cup.
But Loew says with a side boasting the attacking class of Real Madrid's Ronaldo, Chelsea's Raul Meireles, and Manchester United's Nani, Germany can ill afford to allow any trademark counter-attacks from the Portuguese.
"Portugal are amongst the most dangerous teams when the opponent loses the ball," said Loew on Thursday in a press conference at their Euro 2012 base.
"They can switch from defense to attack at pace and there is hardly a team that does it better.
"If we give away possession easily, Portugal will be very strong and can be a threat, so we have to have a high-intensity playing forward and force them into their own half."
Recent results suggest both teams have some defensive frailties after Portugal were beaten 3-1 by Turkey recently and held to a goalless draw to Macedonia.
Likewise, Germany suffered a shock 5-3 defeat at the hands of Switzerland last month after losing 2-1 to France earlier this year and Loew says every player will have to play a role in subduing Portugal's attack.
"We will have to anticipate and be mentally alert, you can't afford to switch off for a second," said Loew.
"Portugal are able to play deep balls and put in killer passes with incredible speed, so every player is called upon to deny them the space and shut down the center.
"We have to attack their wide players at a very early stage."
Despite facing Holland in Kharkiv, Ukraine, next Wednesday in their next Group B match, Loew said no thought has yet been given to Bert van Marwijk's Dutch team.
"Anyone who thinks one or two games ahead we will stumble and I have been telling the players we are focused just on Portugal," he said.
With an average age of just over 24, Loew has brought the youngest team to Euro 2012 and says he needs his young stars to show their class.
"We have to have enough courage going into the one-on-one situations," said Loew.
"We have to have the class and quality to play those duels with confidence.
"Portugal have four or five players who can produce world-class performances and have had seen some major footballing battles.
"Portugal are a different team from Euro 2008 and I expect an open match with both sides going for the win."