| Joachim Loew discusses a point with Bastian Schweinsteiger, on Tuesday |
Gdansk: Germany central midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger will be available to play in the European Championship semifinals against Italy on Thursday.
Schweinsteiger has complained of a lingering ankle injury and had raised doubts about his fitness. But coach Joachim Loew said Tuesday all of his players will be ready to face Italy in Warsaw, including Schweinsteiger.
“He is the team’s emotional leader, he thinks a lot and asks a lot of questions, he has matured enormously over the past two years,” Loew said. “He’s very important for our team. We need him on the field.”
Schweinsteiger tore a ligament in his right ankle in February and said Sunday the injury hadn’t healed properly. The Bayern Munich player has started all four matches and made some uncharacteristic bad passes in the quarterfinal against Greece.
“Bastian is self-critical, he knows what his mistakes were and they won’t happen again,” Loew said. Loew, who has tinkered with his lineup and changed the three-man forward line in the 4-2 win over Greece, did not rule out another reshuffle.
“Italy is a completely different calibre. I may change one or two things,” Loew said.
As always, Loew revealed no details. Veteran striker Miroslav Klose started in favor of Mario Gomez against Greece. Klose said on Tuesday that he expected to play against Italy.
Loew also used Marco Reus and Andre Schuerrle as his attacking midfielders, replacing Thomas Mueller and Lukas Podolski, respectively.
“We have very ambitious players and even those who do not play bring a lot of quality to training,” said Loew, who likes to remain unpredictable when it comes to Germany’s line-ups.
“But our philosophy, our game will not change,” he said.
Meanwhile, Miroslav Klose remembers how Andrea Pirlo broke German hearts with a pass that led to his team’s elimination from the 2006 World Cup semi-finals at home.
With two minutes remaining in extra time, Pirlo's pass found Fabio Grosso and he scored the first of a pair of late goals that meant Germany would be denied a shot at the title on home soil.
Instead, it was Italy that went on to clinch its fourth World Cup title over France.
“I remember well Pirlo’s pass and Grosso’s shot inside the far post,” said Klose, who was by then on the bench, having been substituted.
Pirlo is likely to be confronted often by Sami Khedira, Real Madrid’s physical defensive midfielder. Bastian Schweinsteiger should also have a role in harassing the Italian “midfield maestro,” although the German is playing on a tender right ankle.
The Germans are eager to break a jinx - they have never beaten Italy in a major tournament in seven attempts - and the key to that will be stopping the playmaker from delivering the decisive passes or scoring himself.
At 33, Pirlo has proved time and again that he is still in his prime. He led Juventus to an undefeated Serie A season and the Italian title last month, a year after AC Milan gave up on him.
“We know where the Italian weaknesses are,” Loew said. “We’ll try to take advantage.”
In the quarterfinals against England, Pirlo created chances that his teammates could not convert then chipped an audacious soft shot from the penalty spot even as the Italians were behind in the shootout.
“Pirlo is going through something like a renaissance, some people may have thought he was over the hill,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “He’s a genius strategist. He plays the ball where it hurts the opponent. We’ll talk to our players, give them some jobs to stop him.”