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Sports

German coach tires of 'some forms of criticism'

Germany wanted answers when its top footballers lost in the Euro 2012 semifinals. Were players pampered? Should they sing the anthem with more vigor? Who were the leaders? Some of the questions didn't impress Jogi Löw.

Joachim Löw spoke at length in Frankfurt on Monday, two days ahead of Germany's friendly against Argentina - the side's first match since its semifinal defeat to Italy at Euro 2012. It was also Löw's first major public appearance since the tournament, though he was watching on the sidelines for Sunday's Supercup between Borussia Dortmund and winners Bayern Munich.

Löw announced that Bayern's injured goalkeeper Manuel Neuer would be replaced by youngster Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the squad for the Argentina friendly, but most of his time was spent addressing the Euro 2012 exit and criticisms he faced after the defeat.

Holger Badstuber (R) of Germany and Mario Balotelli of Italy clash during the UEFA EURO 2012 semi final match between Germany and Italy at National Stadium on June 28, 2012 in Warsaw, Poland.

Try as they might, the Germans couldn't hold back Italy's Mario Balotelli

"I take sporting criticism on board very keenly and with deference, and I also try to make decisions based on it," Löw told reporters, before saying that he thought many of the questions raised after Euro 2012 were not of a sporting nature, and sometimes criticized the very progress pundits were praising prior to the tournament.

"Some parts of the criticism strike me as unproductive and tiresome."

Focus on the football, Löw asks

Löw spoke of the long-term concept that Germany - the youngest side on average at Euro 2012 - was pursuing, a model he once said should culminate in a World Cup win in 2014.

Germany's Mesut Oezil (r) and Sami Khedira (l) prior to the international friendly soccer match Switzerland vs Germany at the St. Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, Switzerland, 26 May 2012.

Löw took exception to the implication of divided loyalties among some players

Saving the sporting fodder until last, Löw first addressed some of the other questions asked after the German defeat, not least why Löw's side could not match Italy's vocal and passionate rendition of the national anthem, "Il Canto degli Italiani".

"To sing the national anthem is wonderful, but it's far from the sign of a strong team and it is absolutely no indication of a lack of desire to fight," Löw said, also warning against such a debate starting to revolve around players with foreign roots. "All our players identify completely with the team, the jersey and with Germany."

Pampered into poor performance?

Mario Götze, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Andre Schürrle celebrate in a friendly against Brazil

Germany's youthful outfit is still taking shape, and is surely among the favorites for 2014

Löw displayed similarly short patience on the subject of the German training camp in Gdansk, which some said was too luxurious and distracting for the squad.

"The [Euro 2012-winning] Spaniards have a chef too, they don't cook their own meals," Löw said, adding that it was the job of the German Football Association (DFB) to ensure the players were able to concentrate purely on match preparations.

Löw similarly dismissed suggestions that the young German team suffered from a lack of leadership, saying that while he believed in a "flat hierarchy," there are players who are willing and able to take on leadership duties within the ranks.

Missing that dead eye for goal?

For all the defensive statements, Löw did concede that the side was unable to "play our own game" in the 2-1 defeat against Italy on June 28. His on-pitch analysis of the tournament yielded a mixed verdict - Löw said that the German team created more chances at Euro 2012 than at the 2010 World Cup and defended more solidly, but he lamented a lack of efficiency in front of goal. Germany scored one in five of their shots in South Africa, and only one in nine in Poland and Ukraine two summers later.

Veteran Miroslav Klose, the only nominal striker selected for the friendly with Argentina, will be tasked with rectifying that on Wednesday in Mario Gomez's absence.

Joachim Löw has been in charge of the German national team since 2006, presiding over a golden generation of rising stars. Though renowned for loyalty as a coach, he has also given more than 50 players their Germany debuts during his time in charge. Despite a lack of silverware throughout his tenure, the aftermath of Euro 2012 was the first time that serious questions were asked about his future as German coach. Prior to the competition, he extended his contract to the end of the World Cup in 2014.