Loew keen to turn the page after Lahm controversy
BERLIN // An eighth straight Group A victory against Austria tonight will send Germany to Euro 2012, and help dampen controversy whipped up by the release of captain Philipp Lahm's autobiography.
"For us, this is a great chance to clear things up and we expect to win all our remaining games," said Joachim Loew, the Germany coach, whose side face further qualifiers against Belgium and Turkey in October.
"On Friday, we want to show that Austria won't take anything from the game. Then we can focus on football again."
It has been a troublesome few days for Loew, who has been constantly questioned about the "Bookgate" controversy generated by his own captain Lahm. In his book published last Monday - titled The Subtle Difference - the Bayern Munich defender criticised Loew, and even though his apology has been accepted by the coach, there is tension between the two.
Lahm accused Loew of failing to deal with tensions in the squad at Euro 2008, when Germany lost the final to Spain.
Lahm's comments created a stir in the German media and Loew has been irritated by having to answer constant questions about the controversy with such a significant match looming.
"It bothers me that within the circle of the the national team, we have to constantly discuss other issues," he said.
While the book has diverted attention, nothing can detract from the fact Germany are one of only three sides unbeaten in their qualifying campaign and have the best record of seven wins from seven games.
The Germans will qualify for the Euro 2012 finals with an eighth successive win, but Austria will have other ideas as they look to knock their neighbours off course when the teams meet in Gelsenkirchen.
Germany are 10 points clear of second-ranked Belgium and only Turkey, in third, can overtake Loew's team, who will be through regardless of their result if Guus Hiddink's side fail to beat Kazakhstan earlier on Friday.
Austria have come closest to snatching a point off Germany, when the visitors needed a late Mario Gomez goal to grab a 2-1 victory in Vienna in early June.
Germany will not be able to rely on Gomez this time as the Bayern Munich striker is out with a thigh strain, while midfielders Sami Khedira, of Real Madrid, Borussia Moenchengladbach's rising star Marco Reus and Borussia Dortmund's Sven Bender are also missing through injury.
But the hosts should have more than enough fire power to cope with Austria, and it is expected teenage star Mario Goetze will link up in attack with chief playmaker Mesut Ozil of Real Madrid.
Austria are looking to end a grim run against their neighbours.
They have lost their last six games against Germany since a goalless draw in November 1992 in the nations' first meeting since the German unification.
With his side fourth in the table and with only a slight chance of qualifying, Didi Constantini, the Austria coach, has included the controversial Werder Bremen striker Marko Arnautovic in his squad.
The 22 year old has already scored two goals in three German league games this season.
Published: September 2, 2011 04:00 AM