SANTO ANDRE, July 6: Germany head coach Joachim Loew is relishing the chance to take on hosts Brazil in Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final as his side bid to win a fourth world title.
“What can be more beautiful in a football dreamland than to play a World Cup semi-final against the hosts?” said Loew after his team trained on Saturday.
“It will be a huge game in Belo Horizonte.”
Germany booked their semi-final place with a 1-0 last eight win over France at Rio de Janeiro on Friday.
The Germans are bidding to reach an eighth World Cup final.
Hosts Brazil stand in the Germans’ path to the Maracana on July 13, but the Selecao will be without midfield star Neymar, who has a fractured vertebrae, and suspended captain Thiago Silva at Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao Stadium.
Lothar Matthaeus, who captained Germany to the 1990 World Cup win, said Loew’s side face a tough challenge against the hosts, but “otherwise we have nothing to fear from this (Brazil) team”.
Matthaeus said Neymar’s injury was good for Germany, but bad for football: “He is one who stands out”, while Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski tweeted “can’t wait to face Brazil, sad for Neymar, hope you get better soon.”
The Germans regard the semi-final as a chance to avenge their 2002 World Cup final defeat against Brazil when Ronaldo scored both goals in a 2-0 victory in Yokohama.
“I have reminded the team that we would like to correct the result,” quipped German FA (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach.
Striker Miroslav Klose, who played in the 2002 final and was the tournament’s top scorer, said Germany have a good chance to lift the title.
“I think we have a great chance to finally grab it and get the trophy in our hands,” said Klose.
“But we can’t take the second step before we take the first.”
The squad went through their paces on Saturday and only centre-back Per Mertesacker was missing with mild flu symptoms, a virus which affected most of the squad during the week.
Outstanding performances against the French by goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and man-of-the-match Mats Hummels, who claimed the 13th-minute winner, saw the Germans into their 13th World Cup semi-final out of a possible 20.
Some 26.25 million watched the win back home in Germany and fans packed into the public viewing area in front of Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate to cheer the victory on the other side of the world.
The Germans are desperate to avoid a defeat in Belo Horizonte which would consign them to a third consecutive third-place play-off at the World Cup.
“I really do not need that, that’s something I want to rule out,” joked captain Philipp Lahm, who was on losing teams in semi-finals at the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals.
“We definitely want more, that wasn’t our last appearance in Rio.”