Loew targets key areas for Germany before Euro 2016
Germany's Joachim Loew has targeted the areas where the world champions must improve for Euro 2016 after their shock defeat to England and thrashing of Italy in friendlies.
The Germans threw away a two-goal lead in losing 3-2 to a spirited England side in Berlin on Saturday, but roared back with a 4-1 thrashing of the disappointing Italians in Munich on Tuesday.
Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze, Jonas Hector and Mesut Ozil put Germany 4-0 up before replacement Stephan El Shaarawy scored Italy's late consolation goal.
Loew knows what needs to be done before Germany's opening Euro 2016 game against Ukraine in Lille in Group C on June 12.
"Against England, we lost our discipline and concentration, plus our conviction in the final phase," said Loew.
"It was better against Italy, but there were still things we have to work on.
"The fact that we didn't pull out all the stops is understandable, but when the team plays well, then we have options.
"Nevertheless, there are a few areas such as our behaviour in defence, our build-up play and our running patterns which we must improve on."
Italy, who Germany have never beaten at a major tournament, are a possible quarter-final opponent in the European championships but Loew says Tuesday night's first win over the Azzurri for 21 years has little meaning.
"Obviously, it's important that the team has the feeling they can beat Italy, but the game won't play an important role for the European championships," said Loew.
"When things get going, the Italians will certainly play very differently."
Loew was relieved his side played for the full 90 minutes against Italy, rather than the 60 against England, when the Three Lions netted three goals in the final half an hour.
"We did better than against England, because the team kept their concentration high for 90 minutes," he said.
"We had discussed staying disciplined throughout, especially until the end."
Loew experimented with a 5-4-1 formation, using Real Madrid's Kroos and Ozil as two central attacking midfielders, and the move paid off with Kroos scoring the first goal and Ozil converting a second-half penalty.
"I wanted to try something out and we played with a back three (plus two wingbacks) so we could take risks with three centre-backs," said Loew.
"It depends on how disciplined the midfield players are -- and Toni and Mesut did that exceptionally well, both in defence and on attack.
"It was a risk, but these are the sort of games where you take them."
With captain Bastian Schweinsteiger and defender Jerome Boateng to return from injury in the coming weeks, Loew says things are looking up after the England blip.
"Things will get easier when everyone is in good shape, but that is highly dependent on what happens in the next few weeks," said Loew, who is set to name his 23-man squad on May 17.
"It was clear to see, against Italy, that some players were fighting for their places."
© 2016 AFP