Berlin, June 30 IANS | 29 days ago

Pundits all over the world were eulogising after Germany' s 1-0 win against Team USA to top Group G. Bastian Schweinsteiger in this form is a key figure in Germany' s game.


A brilliant personality and decisive leader, the experts were agreed that it is essential he plays if the side is to be successful, reports Xinhua.

But now in the upcoming round of 16 against Algeria, the Munich midfielder may well find himself back on the bench as Real Madrid' s Sami Khedira is expected to replace him.

It has sparked a Germany-wide debate as to the head coach Joachim Loew' s tactics in changing his team for the first knockout game of the 2014 World Cup against Algeria at Porto Alegre in Brazil Monday.

Some fear a disastrous result as the Euro 2012 is still very much on their minds. Going into the semifinal against Italy, Loew chose the wrong tactics and starting eleven leaving his team with no real chance of winning.

The national coach however seems intent on keeping his safety first policy. Fans and experts fear a repeat of the Ghana game (2-2) when the Germans were on the brink of defeat before Schweinsteiger immediately changed the course of the match after replacing Khedira who is still not fully match fit after his long injury break.

The Algerians will be highly motivated for the encounter as the events at the 1982 World Cup are still very much on their mind. They still feel aggrieved at being cheated out of a place in the second group phase by Germany and Austria' s "non-aggression pact" in Spain. Some Algerians are even calling for revenge for what has become known as the "Shame of Gijon".

"Now it's live or die," says Loew and it's not expected that he will make many changes despite criticism of his back line of four central defenders, particularly the right and left backs (Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Hoewedes) as they lack the ability to push forwards.

Lukas Podolski is certain to miss the game because of a muscle injury and could be replaced by Mario Goetze or Andre Schuerrle. Even Boateng has had problems recently but appears to be fit for Monday.

"A World Cup is no 100-meter sprint; it's more like a marathon. We don't see the need to make any fundamental change as we are satisfied with our campaign so far," says Loew.

He feels there is an obvious reason why the South Americans are dominating this year's World Cup as they are dealing better with Brazil' s humid climate. For the European it means, watch your energy levels and watch them hard. Many so-called "big boys" like England, Spain, Portugal and Italy are out and Loew seems to assume they did not obey the "golden rule" .

For the game against Algeria, Loew' s Swiss-born chief scout Urs Siegenthaler has delivered all facts on the opponents and has pointed out that they are exceedingly fit. The Germans will have to be at the top of their game for the whole 90 minutes if they are to progress to the quarterfinals.

For Loew it is more than an obligation to beat Algeria. If he fails, his reign as Germany's head coach will soon be over. Is the fact therefore leading him to take a safety first policy and then see how the game develops?

It is clear that Loew will first follow his own gut feelings and not take any advice from outside. For months now he has been saying that he is the one to be blamed should Germany fail, but before that he is the only one in charge.

(Posted on 30-06-2014)