Steiger Than Friction

The Irish squad has problems ahead of Friday’s massive test against Germany but all’s not rosy in the visitors’ garden. Their skipper is suspended and his vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger says there’s friction in Joachim Loew’s camp.

As the countdown continues to the Lansdowne Road crunch encounter, the German media is full of quotes by the Bayern Munich talisman who stands by his criticism of the team made during the European Championship.

The midfielder bemoaned the spirit in the squad at Euro 2012 saying it was less than harmonious. This week, he repeated the claim which he said contributed to their failure to overcome Italy in the semi-finals.

“I have my opinion, and I stand by that. It was just the way I perceived things. It should not be anything negative or (seen as a) criticism of the national team. I just want us to get better and that we all sacrifice ourselves for a big, common goal.”

Joachim Loew has his own injury problems this week. Only eleven players trained on Tuesday at their Frankfurt base with nine sitting out the session. Captain Philip Lahm is suspended for the trip to Dublin.

The Germans see Ireland and Sweden, who they face in Berlin next week, as the biggest threats for top spot in the World Cup qualifying group. Loews’ right-hand man, team manager Oliver Bierhoff says the friction and disappointment of the summer can be a positive but he demands a better display. “With a performance like last time against Austria we will have problems. We need an improvement. “ He called on his players “to focus on the sport and not on peripheral issues.”

Despite the pessimism surrounding the Republic squad, Schweinsteiger is expecting a difficult night in Dublin 4. “It is always something really special to play in Ireland,” he said. “I have already had the pleasure of playing in Ireland. It is not easy to win there because the Irish are very strong and combative; they wear their hearts on their sleeves and have an experienced coach. In addition, they have a passionate crowd – the atmosphere there is always fantastic.”

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