Ahead of their knock-out match against Austria Monday, Germany coach Joachim Loew said he was confident that his team would present themselves in a very different manner than they did in the 2-1 defeat against Croatia.
Coach Loew and captain Ballack promise Germany will be different on Monday
With only a point needed to secure a quarter-final berth, one might expect Germany to be in a focused but relaxed mood ahead of their final Group B clash with hosts Austria on Monday, June 16. But there’s fighting talk emanating from the German camp and nothing but victory will do for Joachim Loew and his players.
Germany lost their last match against Croatia and another defeat against Austria on Monday would see them eliminated at the Euro group stages for the third time in a row.
But Loew insisted his players will rise to the occasion and keep their fans dreaming of glory on June 29.
"Obviously we were beaten by Croatia but I promise you that this team will play differently," he said. "All of us, all the staff and every player is well aware that about 30 million German fans will be watching. They have high hopes that we can win and that's why we have to do this, for our fans, for our nation.
"The Croatia match is a thing of the past, we've come to grips with it. We will be confident, we have to push the limits and we know that Austria played with a lot of energy and went the distance in their first match,” the coach added. "We won't make the mistake of underestimating them, we will go the extra mile and I'm confident my players can do it. They've earned my full trust."
World Cup defeat has no relevance, says Loew
Austria beat Germany at the 1978 World Cup
A lot has been made in the press of Austria's victory over Germany at the 1978 World Cup in Cordoba, Argentina. That was the final game of a second group phase and the defeat prevented Germany from progressing.
"Cordoba is really not an issue we talk about a lot," said Loew. "Many of our players were not even born yet. The media tries to play it up but you can't compare the two matches. Austria have a chance, they've earned their shot at the quarter-finals and it's as important for them as it is for us,” he added. "They're under as much pressure as we are, they want to achieve their goal of getting to the quarter-finals.
"We'll play our game and impose ourselves on our opponents and I'm confident enough to say that today and confident enough that we will prove what we can do."
The two sides met in a friendly earlier this year with Germany coming out 3-0 winners in Austria but Loew said the co-hosts had shown enough in the first half of that match to suggest they posed a very real threat.
"Austria played against us in February and they played very well in the first half," he said. "During those 45 minutes we were struggling to keep up with them and we said back then that there were a number of things that were not working.
"Over the last few months Austria have improved and when they played the Netherlands they were leading 3-0 (in another friendly before going on to lose 4-3),” he said. "When you look at how the Dutch are playing now and keep in mind that Austria were ahead 3-0, then once again you can see how strong they are. Austria are fighters, they know how to play and we are taking this seriously."
Ballack bristles at talk of rifts
Ballack says he is focused on beating Austria
Germany captain Michael Ballack joined the chorus of determination when he said that he is not irritated -- just focused -- as his side look to atone for their shock by Croatia by beating Austria.
Ballack said his side are totally focused on beating Austria. "I am not irritated," snapped the Chelsea midfielder when asked about his mood by reporters. "I am always like that when we have lost a match, there are discussions on the performances of certain players.
"To speak about my frame of mind, I would not use the word 'irritated'. What I try to do is understand why we did not play to our best level against Croatia."
Home truths exposed after Croatia defeat
Not much was said at the end but after words were exchanged
Ballack, who has 83 caps and 36 goals, said the players had found answers to their poor performance in Klagenfurt after some frank exchanges this week at the team's hotel in Ascona.
"The exchanges were sometimes lively," he admitted. "In football, you cannot always have constructive harmony and discussions. It is also the language of the pitch, people speak their mind, which is important, because these discussions serve the team," he insisted.
"If we show the same qualities that we have regularly for the last two years, we shall leave the ground as a winner," Ballack said defiantly.
The game could bring as many as 200,000 fans to Vienna with regional rivalries playing a part in the preparations.
"We know a game against big brother Germany in particular will stir lots of emotions," said Konrad Kogler, police spokesman for the Austrian Interior Ministry. "Such a game should be celebrated with joy, and we will act swiftly and professionally to clamp down on anything that threatens this."
Around 40,000 fans are expected to travel from Germany and a total of 3,500 police will be on duty, including German police officers and hooligan spotters who supervised fans in Klagenfurt during Germany's earlier Group B games against Poland and Croatia.