WARSAW: Germany coach Joachim Low had no quarrel with the result of the Euro 2012 semi-final against Italy which ended a 15-game winning run just short of an expected title showdown against Spain.
He said: “At the start we had things well under control without getting a lot of clear chances but after goibng behind we weren’t so clear and organised any more. If we had got a goal back after half-time it would have been a different match. It’s very difficult against a team like Italy to fall behind 2-0. They defend with everything they have.”
Germans had taken maximum points from their group games and scored nine goals in reaching the semi-finals. A decision to entrust T0ni Kroos with a man-marking role on Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo appeared to backfire badly in disrupting the Germans’ direct, confident style.
Low, however, put defeat down largely to sloppy defending.
He blamed Mats Hummel – until then many people’s top defender at the finals – for allowing Antonio Cassano wriggle past him and set up Mario Balotelli’s first goal. Low said: “Mats shouldn’t have speculated the way he did. If he had just stood there Cassano couldn’t have turned on him like that. The cross shouldn’t have been allowed either.
Germany were then caught wide open down the middle by the counter-attack in which Riccardo Moltolivo released Balotelli for the second goal which set up Italy to pursue a second European title, 44 years after their first on home soil in Rome in 1968.
Mesut Ozil scored for Germany with a stoppage-time penalty but it was too little, too late.
Low added: “The disappointment is huge for everyone but we shouldn’t make the mistake of questioning everything we have done up until now. We’ve just to see how we can do better in the future.”
German captain Philipp Lahm said he and his team-mates felt “very bitter” at losing in the semi-finals. He added: “We worked hard in the first half and we had chances but you can’t give away two goals like that. The worst part of it is knowing that this team has the potential to achieve for more than this, but we weren’t clever enough.”
= = = =