Joachim Löw admitted that the Germany camp breathed a collective sigh of relief after making a winning start to Group B at the weekend, but insisted he had “not noticed any complacency”.
“The tournament has started now, we have played against a side in the top ten in the world and we have won our first match,” he said. “I believe winning the first game always gives you a sense of certainty but while we have made the first step, it is not a big one.” Germany, he stresses, will not be satisfied with departing UEFA EURO 2012 with just one victory.
Saturday’s 1-0 win against Portugal was not without its moments of uncertainty and doubt, however, with Germany not quite fitting their billing in some quarters as tournament favourites. “We have room for improvement, no question, but I was pleased about the first match,” countered the 52-year-old. “The teams [in Group B] are close, and any big mistakes will be duly punished.”
Löw’s caution is well founded. Two years ago, at the FIFA World Cup, a 4-0 opening victory over Australia was soon forgotten when Germany lost 1-0 to Serbia in their next assignment. It was a similar story in the coach’s first major tournament at the helm, too, when a 2-1 defeat by Croatia undid much of the good work achieved in their 2-0 triumph over UEFA EURO 2012 co-hosts Poland.
“We made life very hard for ourselves in those second matches,” Löw recalled. “It meant we were under huge pressure in the third so we will try to avoid that this time around.” The Netherlands, their opponents on Wednesday, will have something to say about that, still smarting after their shock upset at the hands of Denmark – beware the wounded tiger.
“Of course everyone knows a lot is at stake for the Netherlands; it is about staying in the tournament for them. They will not repeat the mistakes they made against Denmark,” warned Löw. “We need to play our own game and we need to play well. We have our own strengths, and must impose those qualities on the match. That will be crucial.”