Loew: It’s like an F1 race without the warm-up

Germany coach Joachim Loew felt Mario Gomez’s winning goal in the Euro 2012 victory over Portugal justified his decision to start with the Bayern Munich striker ahead of Miroslav Klose.

Gomez scored a fine header as Loew’s side opened the Group B campaign with a 1-0 success in Lviv, joining Denmark at the top of the ’Group of Death’ after the Danes’ shock 1-0 triumph over the Netherlands.

Lazio front man Klose — scorer of 14 World Cup goals — has been struggling with a thigh injury in the build-up to the tournament, meaning Gomez got the nod up front.

Portugal’s defensive obduracy had frustrated Germany for 72 minutes, and Gomez was about to be substituted when he planted Sami Khedira’s cross past goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

Loew said: “I spoke with Miro. He still needs maybe a few per cent at this moment. He hasn’t played for quite while in the preparation. They both trained really well but Gomez has been playing for the whole season, scoring lots of goals. He’s a different type of player than Miro and he showed tonight he has lots of different qualities — one chance, one goal.”

Loew promised there was more to come from his much-fancied side, but felt the important thing was to start with the win.

“This is the start of the European Championship,” he said. “It’s like a Formula One race but without a warm-up. You have to be ready straight away because every team is incredibly strong. There is no team like in the World Cup where you can acclimatise yourself (against them) — Portugal were right there straight away.

“It’s very important not to chase your own shadow — you have to win the first game. You could feel both teams were quite tense, especially after the Holland-Denmark result. Both teams knew the team that lost would have a lot to do in the next game — kind of like a knockout situation.

“We were much more compact, disciplined in defence — as was the case in the last few weeks. We could have attacked a bit better, but we will do that. The main thing is that we won and we’ve got three points.”

Holland’s earlier defeat threw the pool wide open, and Loew acknowledged the Oranje would be tricky opposition for his side on Wednesday.

“I would have preferred a draw because now it’s a situation for a very strong Holland team... they had a huge amount of chances but, in the end that they didn’t score goals surprises me. They have their backs against the wall — it’s now all or nothing for them.

“If they don’t win the second game it will be very difficult for them. Of course, that will make it all the more difficult for us, all the more exciting.”

Portugal coach Paulo Bento felt his side did everything well — apart from scoring.

“Of course, I’m sad about the result,” he said. “It was a very complicated game. I think the first 45 minutes we were stronger. Germany dominated a bit in the second half. They had more possession. They controlled the game but we still defended well. In the later stages we did everything we could to create chances — we just didn’t score.”

Their hopes now rest on Wednesday’s clash with Morten Olsen’s buoyant Denmark.

“We have to do everything to recover now,” Bento added. “We don’t know what condition the Denmark players will be in now. Denmark is in more a comfortable position than we are but we will try our very best. It was always our goal to advance and we must be loyal to our will to win, to show great effort and we will try everything to succeed.”

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