KEIR RADNEDGE in BORDEAUX: German coach Joachim Low paid tribute to his young newcomers for holding their nerve after the shootout victory which took the Mannschaft into the semi-finals of Euro 2016 against hosts France or Iceland.
Four years ago Low and Germany were beaten more decisively by Italy than the 2-1 scoreline suggested in the semi-finals of Euro 2012 but this time the tables were turned, albeit by the narrowest of margins after a 1-1 extra-time draw.
Low said: “It was a dramatic game right to the very last penalty. It was also game on a very high tactical level from both sides. But I think we were superior. We knew the Italians play very well in the centre of the pitch so we tried not to let them and it worked.
“I think the penalty from which they equalised was unfortunate. It it hadn’t have been for that, I couldn’t have envisaged the Italians scoring.”
Low said the penalty takers for the shootout largely chose themselves.
He said: “I didnt have any influence. Every player has to make up his own mind. Mesut [Ozil] said: ‘I’ll shoot.’ Then so did [Thomas] Muller and [Julian] Draxler. They all volunteered but what was very positive was that this included the youngsters Kimmich and Hector – in their first tournament, their first penalty shootout – kept calm in the atmosphere.”
Low defended his tactical switch to a back three rather than four as one which he had imposed before and which also dealt with dealt with his concern than other teams now knew everything about the German national team.
Sami Khedira, who injured a hamstring in the first half, is doubtful for the semi-final while Mats Hummels will be suspended after collecting a second tournament yellow tournament card.