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GDANSK, Poland: Germany coach Joachim Loew insisted he will leave the euro zone 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 euro zone 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.
“Angela Merkel and the national team are on very good terms,” said Loew in yesterday’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.”
Germany beat Denmark 2-1 in Lviv on Sunday to qualify for the last eight and will face Greece at the Gdansk Arena.
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.”
Despite being one of the favourites to win their fourth European championships, Loew has said the Germans can still improve despite winning the so-called “Group of Death” with nine points from three wins.
“We played some good attacking football in the first 20 minutes (against Denmark), but we conceded the equaliser and we lacked urgency,” said Loew after the Germans needed a late winner from Lars Bender to beat Denmark.
“We left a few enormous gaps in midfield for the opponent to exploit and I didn’t like that. The solutions are just as clear as the challenges.” – Sapa-AFP