The Telegraph
Saturday , June 14 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Joachim wary of Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo during a training session, with his left knee strapped, in Campinas, on Friday

Salvador: Germany coach Joachim Loew intends to field captain Philipp Lahm in midfield in their opening World Cup fixture against Portugal on Monday to allow Jerome Boateng focus on keeping Cristiano Ronaldo at bay, only if the Portuguese star makes the playing XI.

Loew made no attempt to play down the special attention he is paying to the Real Madrid forward even though he’s down again with injury, while lavishing praise on a side he says Germany must take very seriously. The German coach sounded cautious ahead of the key match, but said he “can't wait” for the action to commence.

“We’re up against a side who are right behind us in the world rankings, and they are the world champions when it comes to counter-attack,” Loew said.

“Look at the class they have got… Portugal are definitely tough opponents.

“They have always gone a very long way in tournaments, reaching the semis in 2006 (World Cup) and the last four of the last European Championships as well when they were just one penalty kick short of sending Spain home.”

Loew added: “You could see Portugal as a finalist, with the likes of (Joao) Moutinho and Nani up front, then (Bruno) Alves, Pepe and (Fabio) Coentrao… all experienced guys at the back.”