Low's Germany take cosmopolitan road to success

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ERASMIA - Germany coach Joachim Low has tried to fuse his country's famed work-rate with English pace, Spanish fluidity and Italian defending to create a new, winning style for his team, he said on Monday.

Germany play Spain in the World Cup semi-final in Durban on Wednesday and Low acknowledged he had combined several styles to find the right mix in his cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic team.

"I've seen a lot of international football, I have soaked it all up and taken away many aspects," he told reporters.

"In England the tempo is incredible and something to be emulated. In Spain, there is the free-flowing style, technique and skill and you can see that's something that is second nature to them, even to their youth teams," he said.

"In Spain the game is not just played or worked (at) but celebrated. It impresses me how easy it looks even though, of course, it isn't easy at all. I like combination passing football and that is what I work towards," he said.

"Italy won the World Cup in 2006 with perfect defensive play but the game has moved on in the last four years. The teams in the final four have solid defences but you have to have a more than that, a more versatile style of play," he said.

Impressively, Germany have combined a miserly defence which has conceded just twice in five games, with a flowing midfield and free-scoring attack that has scored 13 goals, including eight in the last two games against England and Argentina.

RADICAL CHANGES

Low said it was difficult to compare his side with German teams of the past given radical changes in the way the game is now played.

"I don't like all these comparisons. Supposedly the European Championship-winning team of 1972 was the best German team ever and they certainly played a fantastic, flowing football.

"But athleticism is playing an even greater role than in the past and football, as a game, has changed fundamentally.

"As well as the old German virtues of hard work and willpower, I wanted us to become a team who can easily hold their own and we have players who are technically gifted as well as physically capable," he said.

Low said the transformation of Germany's approach to the game was a gradual evolution.

"It's thanks to a process. It didn't come overnight, rather over several years.

"Passion, willpower and commitment are the basic preconditions to survive in international football these days but we worked hard to develop free-flowing football," he said.

The 50-year-old Low said he had also been determined to instil German players with more than just an ability to carry out a gameplan.

"We look to impose ourselves by playing means as well as physical means. It hasn't been easy because there's precious little time for a coach with his national team but I told them: 'You mustn't just administer, you must find creative solutions'".

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