Under-pressure Joachim Loew remains defiant despite defeat to France

Germany's head coach Joachim Loew gestures during the UEFA Nations League football match between France and Germany at the Stade de France, in which his side lost 2-1. (AFP)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Under-pressure Joachim Loew remains defiant despite defeat to France

  • The Germans are bottom of Group A after back-to-back defeats to the Netherlands and France
  • Germany coach praised his young team for a stronger showing in Paris

LONDON: The pressure continued to mount on Joachim Loew this week as Germany suffered another defeat in the UEFA Nations League, this time to world champions France, but the head coach remains defiant.
The Germans are bottom of Group A after back-to-back defeats to the Netherlands and France, and face the ignominy of being relegated to League B for the next instalment of the tournament.
Germany took the lead through a Toni Kroos penalty in the first half, but Antoine Griezmann’s header and penalty saw France complete a second half turnaround.
Tuesday’s game saw a much better performance from Loew’s side after their 3-0 hammering at the hands of the Dutch, and the German praised his young team for a stronger showing in Paris.

“(Yes) I’m disappointed with the result, although I must say the defeat is different to Saturday’s,” he said. “Not because of the result but because of the performance. I’m very pleased with the performance.
“I think we were on an even level with what is probably the best team in the world. But France has a lot of individual quality, and if you’re not careful you’ll get punished straight away.”
After Toni Kroos had put Germany ahead, Loew was left to rue missed chances.
“The negative point is the converting of our chances. We were unable to put the ball in the goal,” he added. “I think we deserved to win because we were the best team but that’s not how things work. We lacked a bit of intelligence. If we’d been able to score a second we could have played in a calmer manner and won the match.”
Indeed, his French counterpart Didier Deschamps acknowledged his side had been outplayed by Germany in the first half.
“We struggled to stop them, they went through us,” he said. “Our positioning wasn’t quite what it should have been.”
But France captain Hugo Lloris was full of praise for his team and their “mental strength” in coming from behind against a quality side like Germany. “When we lift our level, the players’ talents really come to the fore,” he said.
Raphael Varane, who aged 25 has already won a World Cup and four Champions League titles with Real Madrid, was pleased France’s mental maturity shown on their run to World Cup glory was on display against the Germans.

“We managed to win the World Cup thanks to our mental qualities, despite some difficult moments. We have to keep these values, and not allow panic to set in. We have confidence in ourselves, and we know what we’re capable of.”
Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann admitted the first half against Germany was much like how the French played against Iceland.
“We weren’t ourselves, either in the one-on-ones or in terms of the efforts we made for each other. The coach and the players talked at half-time and in the second half we saw the team that won the World Cup.”


Maria Sharapova looks back to her best as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal show no signs of slowing down

Updated 18 January 2019
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Maria Sharapova looks back to her best as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal show no signs of slowing down

  • Sharapova dumps out defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.
  • Rafa and Roger brush aside young guns in straight sets victories.

LONDON: It is coming up to the end of the first week of the Australian Open, so we thought we would take a look and see how some of the big names fared on day five of the year’s first Grand Slam.

MARIA SHARAPOVA

Maria Sharapova warned she is in the sort of form to win the Australian Open after she dumped Carolina Wozniacki out with an impressive 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win. It was the Russian’s best win since her return from a drugs ban and she looked like a winner-in-waiting.
“I thought the level was quite high. I knew I’d get a tough match — she (Wozniacki) is the defending champion,” the five-time Slam champion said.
“I haven’t played many matches in the last year against top players so it was really rewarding to win that last set. These are the kinds of matches I train for.”



ROGER FEDERER

Ageless Roger Federer marked his 100th Rod Laver Arena match Friday by storming past Taylor Fritz, then looked forward to a “high quality” last-16 clash against another young gun, Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion continued his quest for a record seventh Australian Open title with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 third-round demolition of 21-year-old American Fritz in just 88 minutes of flawless tennis.
Next up is 14th seed Tsitsipas. And the 37-year-old Federer is looking forward to taking on the fiery young Greek, who is 17 years his junior.
Federer played him in the recent mixed teams Hopman Cup, winning a closely contested singles 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4), and said he was impressed.
“I think he played really well there. I actually did too. I thought it was really high quality tennis,” Federer said.
“This is obviously a different type of match, it being best of five, it being a fourth round of a Slam.”



RAFAEL NADAL

Rafael Nadal declared “everything is a step forward” after brutally brushing aside Alex de Minaur at the Australian Open Friday in just the Spaniard’s third match since the US Open.
The world No. 2 was in ominous form as he continued his quest for an 18th Grand Slam by punishing the Australian teenager in a third-round tennis masterclass 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
“In general terms, everything is a step forward. So that’s positive news for me,” said the man who won the Aussie Open in 2009.
“I’m very happy for the victory against someone who had won seven matches in a row, winning a tournament.”
On his fitness Nadal added: “Probably 10 years ago it would have been difficult not playing much tennis in the build-up but now I have been in this situation many times with the injuries I have had.
“I have to deal with the ups and downs of my body but I try to enjoy any moment on the court.”



MARIN CILIC

The former US Open champions was made to work for his place in the last 16 as he struggled to beat Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-3. Verdasco showed glimpses of the form that once made him a top-10 player and had a match point, one he frittered away with a double fault.
I was just slightly luckier in those crucial moments,” the sixth-seeded Cilic said.
“(It is) unbelievable. Emotions were up and down,” Cilic said.
“When I was down two sets to none, it was a big hill to climb.”
It’s the seventh time in Cilic’s career that he has emerged to win a match after dropping the opening two sets.



ANGELIQUE KERBER

Second seed Kerber received a gift ride into the Australian Open fourth round for her 31st birthday when she overpowered local wildcard Kimberly Birrell 6-1, 6-0.
The Wimbledon champion swept world No. 240 Birrell aside in just 58 minutes to set up a last-16 clash with unseeded American Danielle Collins.
Kerber, a winner at Melbourne Park in 2016, said she was used to celebrating her birthday on the road at the season-opening Grand Slam.
“I think it’s the 12th time in a row,” she said. “I’m getting older but I have the best time here and I’ll never forget my birthdays here in Australia.”
Kerber reached the semifinals last year but lost to Simona Halep in a tight three-setter.