Germany favorites in World Cup qualifier | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 21.03.2013
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Germany favorites in World Cup qualifier

Germany is set to play Kazakhstan in the qualification round for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Coach Löw’s team will have to adjust to strange terrain and an uncomfortable time change.

The German team had to travel farther than for any other of their Brazil 2014 qualifiers – 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) east to the capital of Kazakhstan.

The players and coaching team have to come to terms with a five-hour time difference and the special features of the artificial pitch in the Astana arena.

But Coach Joachim Löw has expressed confidence. "It is our attitude and our strategy that will determine the outcome of the match," he told reporters ahead of the game. “If we can play to all our strengths, we will be sure to win," he said.

Der Bundestrainer der deutschen Fußballnationalmannschaft, Joachim Löw spricht am Mittwoch (05.09.2012) während der Pressekonferenz des Deutschen Fußball-Bundes (DFB) in Barsinghausen zu Journalisten. Das DFB-Team bereitet sich auf das Länderspiel gegen die Färöer Inseln vor, dass am Freitag (07.09.2012) in der AWD-Arena in Hannover stattfindet. Foto: Peter Steffen dpa/lni

Coach Joachim Löw has expressed confidence in his team

The German team is used to playing on grass pitches and has only had to play on artificial surfaces three times in recent years, including in 2009, for a World Cup qualifier in Russia and 2010, for a European Championship qualifier in Kazakhstan.

Germany won both of those matches, which boosts their confidence. "We just have to think back to our youth, we all used to play a lot on artificial pitches back then," said midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger.

The coaches believe that a high quality artificial pitch is preferable to a poorly tended grass surface and may well be to their team's advantage as it allows them to take advantage of their technical skills more than a uneven grass pitch might.

In preparation for the Friday fixture Joachim Löw held a few training sessions on an artificial pitch in Frankfurt, where the players had a chance to experience how the ball rolls differently. With the view to preparing the team for Friday's opponents, Löw has also had them play some handball.

"The Kazakh defenders stand really close to their opponents, just like handball players do. That is why we played handball during our training sessions," Schweinsteiger explained.

Major challenge: Jetlag

Kick off will be at prime time for a TV audience in Germany, but that means the players take to the pitch at midnight local time. That in itself is a challenge, but with the second leg of the qualifier to take place the following Tuesday in Nürnberg, the Germans have little time to sleep off the jetlag.

The players have been urged to keep their body clock on German time. Team physician Tim Meyer has come up with a schedule to make sure the players cope withthe time difference as best as possible: Following their arrival in Astana the team will hold a training session, dinner is served after midnight, and they will then stay awake until four in the morning and sleep in until midday.

The German team has played Kazakhstan twice before and won both matches, scoring a total of seven goals and not conceding once. And the Germans are expected to win again Friday. So far they are unbeaten at the top of group C and they expect clear sailing to the World Cup next year assuming they can win twice against Kazakhstan.

Germany have ten points in total and are keen to bag another six over the next few days. They will want to avoid tripping up as group C opponents Sweden and Ireland have seven and six points respectively - still within striking distance.

The German team will be missing a few pivotal players, however. Marco Reus is suspended for the first match because of yellow card accumulation and several players are injured, but Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khediraha and Lukas Podolski have all recovered from injury. It would be the 108th international cap for the Arsenal striker, putting him third alongside Jürgen Klinsmann on Germany's all-time appearances list. Only Miroslav Klose and Lothar Matthäus have more.

Follow our reporting on Twitter at @dw_sports for live commentary of the match.
18:00 UTC on Friday March 22.

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