x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Loew expects test

The German coach believes that the UAE are much stronger than China, who they drew 1-1 with on Thursday night.

DUBAI // China are ranked much higher than the UAE in world football hierarchy, but the German head coach Joachim Loew thinks Dominique Bathenay's side are much stronger than their first opponents on their tour of Asia. The three-time world champions were held to a 1-1 draw by China on Thursday night in Shanghai and, as they prepare to meet the UAE at Al Nasr tonight, Loew has warned his side to improve on their last performance.

"I have watched a video prepared by our scouting department and our impression is that the UAE are stronger than China," said Loew. "They look very comfortable on the ball; they have good ball-handling skills and athletically speaking they are much advanced. "I do believe this is due, in no small degree, to the French influence over the years on the coaching side. Bruno Metsu was here and now Dominique Bathenay. The French touch is definitely visible.

"So our final assessment is that they are an opponent not to be feared, but definitely to be looked out for." Loew was not pleased with the performance in Shanghai and has promised a much better showing. "The result of the China game will have no direct consequence on this game," he said. "The result, no, but the manner we played, yes. If you analyse the match against China, it was obvious for all to see that there are considerable problems in virtually all areas of the pitch. We had co-ordination problems in midfield and defence, and there was a complete lack of support for Mario Gomez, the lone striker.

"So there are certain problems that need to be addressed. There is room for improvement. Hopefully, and I am completely sure, this game will be a completely different story with many more automatic moves." The midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, considered a Dubai expert among his teammates after making three visits to the country with his club Stuttgart, believes the team have an obligation to do well against the UAE after their failure in China.

He said: "It is the end of a long and eventful season, both with Stuttgart and the national team, but we are definitely not in the holiday mood here. If there is anything we want to do, it is to end the season on a high. We are under an obligation to perform well. "I know the UAE team will be motivated to give us a good game. But after the draw against China, we really have to prove a point." The soaring heat here was one of the biggest concerns for the Germans on their first two days in Dubai, but Loew feels the team are adapting well to the conditions.

"It goes without saying that playing football under these conditions is very unusual for us," he said. "But what has been seen is that physically you get used to it. Day one, it hit us like a hammer, but day two is not as bad. "We had a bit of an extended training session on Sunday night, lasting one hour and 20 minutes. My impression was that the players have coped fairly reasonably and actually liked training.

"It doesn't really matter if you play at 4pm or 9pm in the evening, it is more or less the same. So my motto is, we just have to grin and bear it. This is the last match of a long season. Players know that after this they will have an extended summer vacation. So I expect them to mobilise their full strength and go the extra mile, which they are ready to do anyway." Hitzlsperger added: "The climate is the overriding subject among our teammates. Acclimatisation is the name of the game here. Sometimes, you can get exhausted by walking, let alone playing football. But there are no up front excuses. We just have to get used to the heat. We will have to beat the conditions and the opponents."

arizvi@thenational.ae UAE v Germany KO 10pm, Abu Dhabi Sports 1