Just what the Chancellor ordered as Germans win tactics battle

BASEL (Switzerland) (AFP) - Germany's Euro 2008 quarter-final win over Portugal was a personal triumph for man-of-the-match Bastian Schweinsteiger, but the plaudits had to be shared with coach Joachim Loew, who comfortably won the tactical battle with Luiz Felipe Scolari. Schweinsteiger revealed after the match how some matronly advice from German Chancellor Angela Merkel had contributed to a performance in which he scored his country's opener and then delivered the free-kicks that led to their second and third goals in a 3-2 win. For Schweinsteiger, it was a display that brought redemption after he was sent off in the group stage defeat by Croatia. That red card, handed out for a needless shove on Croatian midfielder Jerko Leko, led to him sitting out the final group game against Austria, where he sat in the stands next to Merkel. "She told me what I needed to do (on Thursday)," Schweinsteiger revealed. "She told me I should not do the same foolish things (as against Croatia) and play as I had been doing before. I took her advice." Loew may have been confined to the stands as a result of the ban he received for a touchline argument with his Austrian counterpart, but Germany's coach had done everything he needed to in the build-up to the match. A reshaped line-up meant Lukas Podolski was the only member of the midfield to remain in the same slot he had occupied in the 1-0 win over Austria that clinched their quarter-final place. Schweinsteiger returned from suspension on the right in place of Clemens Fritz, captain Michael Ballack was pushed up front alongside Miroslav Klose with Mario Gomez dropping to the bench, while Thomas Hitzlsperger and Simon Rolfes doubled up in the centre in the absence of the injured Torsten Frings. The result was that the threat posed by Cristiano Ronaldo and Simao Sabrosa was minimised with Hitlsperger and Rolfes regularly doubling up with their full-backs to deny the wingers space to run into when they did get past their main markers. "The tactics were simple in a way. Against Austria we were not as stable as a team as we are used to being. That is why we went for two in the middle. We wanted to get the wingers under control and have a stable centre," said Schweinsteiger. The Germans were also proved right in their belief that Portugal's defence and goalkeeper Ricardo were vulnerable to crosses as Klose and Ballack both netted headers off inswinging free kicks from Schweinsteiger. "I simply trusted in my strengths," said the Bayern Munich midfielder. "I knew I was in good shape, I had the trust of the team and the coaches and I know what I am capable of. "We played probably the best team at the tournament and we won. That shows the spirit in the team. We were playing for our coach."

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