Germany manager Joachim Low has insisted that he will persist with Philipp Lahm in the midfield, while defending Arsenal FC midfielder Ozil’s place in the side.
There have been a lot of calls from both media and fans to switch Philipp Lahm back to his role as a full back, but Joachim Low insists that he will start the German international as a midfielder.
Philipp Lahm, who is arguably the best full back in the world currently, was shifted to the midfield by new Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola. The former Barcelona coach used Lahm as a holding midfielder in his 4-1-4-1 formation for most part of the season and it seems like Joachim Low has been impressed with how Lahm has performed in his new role.
The Germany manager has used Lahm in his three-man midfielder in all the four World Cup matches so far, and have placed faith on Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Howedes to do their job as the full backs. But both Boateng and Howedes are natural center backs and lack the skill required to play in that role regularly.
Opponents have tried to exploit this weakness of Germany in a lot of games and both Boateng and Howedes have struggled to keep up with wingers running at them.
Low dropped Mats Hummels during Germany’s round of 16 clash against Algeria and shifted Boateng to the center of the defence. Sampdoria defender Shkodran Mustafi started as the right back in that match, but he had to replaced in the second half after he picked up an injury.
It was expected that Low will use Lahm as a right back in the upcoming quarter-final clash against France with Sami Khedira returning to the midfield in place of the injured Mustafi, but the German manager has rebuffed these claims and insisted that he will persist with Lahm at the center of the park.
“I have made up my mind already on Philipp Lahm’s role. And I am sticking by it to the very end.
“Philipp Lahm has been a leading figure for us in recent years and he’s been playing at the highest level for a decade, but he will only move back into defence if we have a problem on the right, at which point I might say ‘okay, now it’s up to Philipp who can push forwards down the right.’
“But that would only be an emergency scenario, and we need to prevent there being an emergency.” – Low said in his pre-match press conference.
This means Hummels is likely to return to the starting line-up against France with Boateng being shifted back to the right. It will be interesting to see how he copes with the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema down that wing.
Joachim Low has also defended Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil after he received a lot of criticism for his performance, or lack of it, against Algeria.
“Mesut is extremely important to us. The criticism of him is just as incomprehensible as that for Lahm.
“Sometimes things get published a little too hastily and I don’t feel the right weight is given to certain things.
“You can’t always play fantastic football at a World Cup. You’ve just got to leave the field triumphant, and that’s what we did.
“We have worked hard, both during the preparation in South Tyrol and here in Brazil, and realised what we must improve.
“It’s only normal that you keep on learning throughout a tournament, and this also helps you recognise your team’s finesse.” – Low added.