Loew: Semi-final ref must be strong
The German coach hopes Tuesday’s semi-final referee takes a tough stance in the game.
SANTO ANDRE - The current Brazil team bear little resemblance to their artistic sides of the past and Germany coach Joachim Loew hopes Tuesday's semi-final referee takes a tough stance against any attempts to disrupt the flow of the game.
"I watched the Brazil-Colombia match and there were countless fouls by both teams, fouls where players just jumped into someone else's back to disrupt play," Loew told German television.
"These weren't players going after the ball in battles for possession. They were simply trying to prevent match play."
Brazil committed 31 fouls against Colombia in a bruising quarter-final on Friday. Referee Carlos Velasco of Spain did not issue his first yellow card until the second half, a point when 41 fouls had been committed by both teams.
Colombia's James Rodriguez, the tournament's top scorer, was subjected to rough treatment from Brazil's midfielders, while the hosts lost Neymar for the remainder of the World Cup after he was fouled from behind and suffered a fractured vertebra.
German players have committed 57 fouls and received four yellow cards in their five matches, while Brazil have committed 96 fouls with 10 yellow cards.
"There's precious little left of that traditional Brazilian style of soccer, that artistic style of playing that we all know so well," Loew said in the interview at his team's base camp in northeastern Brazil on the Atlantic coast.
"For sure, Brazil still have good technical players. But they're playing more robustly than any other team here and they have been trying to break up their opponent's attack that way.
"At the end of the day it's up to the referee to come up with the correct punishment," said Loew.
LACK OF FLAIR?
Loew said, however, that even if the match became overly physical Germany could take care of themselves.
"This tournament has shown that no team has been able to play with great, brilliant, attacking football because there has been so much physical destructiveness set against that," he said, adding that Germany would have to fight hard to win the battle for possession.
"Beautiful soccer by itself won't be enough to win here," said Loew, whose team has been criticised back home for a perceived lack of flair. "We need to have the right dedication."
While the host nation is still coming to terms with the loss of Neymar, Loew said Brazil would be more dangerous without him.
"Brazil without Neymar is going to be much more difficult to beat than they would be with him," Loew said. "I'd rather that he were playing for them on Tuesday. He's an exceptionally gifted player but his team mates will rally around him now."
Loew said he had experienced the same thing with Germany at the 2010 World Cup when they lost their captain Michael Ballack to injury before the tournament. Germany advanced to the semi-final, where they lost to eventual champions Spain.
"We know ourselves what it's like to lose a really top player like that," said Loew. "What happens then is that everyone raises their game and everyone takes over more responsibility. Brazil is not weaker without Neymar."
German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger agreed that Brazil's style had changed.
"We always think of magicians with the ball when we think of Brazil," he said. "But that's not the case anymore. Their team has changed and physical toughness is now part of their game. We've got to adjust to that - as do the referees."