SALVADOR Brazil – Germany coach Joachim Loew was finally able to pronounce a clean bill of health for his players at the World Cup on Sunday and immediately sounded a confident note on the eve of their opening match against Portugal.
The dramatic airlift by helicopter of Bastian Schweinsteiger from their camp at Santa Cruz Cabralia on Saturday was no more than a routine check at a nearby hospital on his recent knee injury, requested by FIFA for insurance purposes, said the coach. Schweinsteiger later traveled with the rest of the squad to Salvador, where they play their Group G opener at the Fonte Nova arena on Monday.
The recovery in recent weeks of captain Philipp Lahm, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and midfielder Sami Khedira added to a positive outlook from Loew about his team’s chances at the tournament in Brazil. “We are well prepared for the first game and we have the injury problems behind us now. All players have participated fully in training and all are 100 percent fit.
“But in the last year we have shown we can draw on lots of talent and if we perform in this tournament with a passion and a resolve, then I think we’ll be a difficult team to beat. We’ve got a high level of quality. We’ve got a good chance to go far.
“It’s our task as coaches to make sure the team maintains a high level of performance over the four weeks. Also key is avoiding injury, which can be a serious setback for the team. And, of course, you also need that extra pinch of luck along the way,” Loew told the pre-match press conference.
“I also believe the extra days of preparation we’ve had have been able to add to the team spirit. They are a much tighter bunch. It is usually difficult to get that spirit going with the national team who don’t get together for months at a time.” The coach said arriving at the match venue on the eve of the game had turned up the level of excitement in the squad.
“You can sense a rising tension and expectation. A bit of emotion kicks in and everyone gets excited when they see the stadium, the pitch; feel the atmosphere. We can sense now we are in the fever of the World Cup.”