SAINT PETERSBURG, July 3, (Agencies): Joachim Loew has hailed Germany’s next generation of stars after beating Chile 1-0 in Confederations Cup final — but says the challenge is to defend the World Cup next year.
Lars Stindl’s simple tap-in was enough to seal Germany’s victory in Sunday’s final in St Petersburg as the youthful world champions lifted the Confed Cup for the first time.
Germany’s head coach cut a soggy figure at the post-match press conference when his players stormed the stage and showered him in beer.
“I am immensely proud of this team, we have only been together for three-and-a-half weeks,” said Loew in a beer-soaked shirt.
“You could feel something was happening in training, we came together and it’s a really deserved win.”
Loew took a gamble by leaving first-choice stars like Thomas Mueller, Jerome Boateng, Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil at home and bringing inexperienced youngsters to Russia.
Germany’s captain Julian Draxler was voted the Confed Cup’s player of the tournament and striker Timo Werner finished as the top scorer in Russia with three goals and two assists.
German football has a bright future after their Under-21 team were crowned European champions on Friday in Poland.
However, head coach Loew says the hard work for his rising stars is just beginning as they bid to earn a place in die Mannschaft’s squad for next year’s World Cup.
Only three of the Confed Cup winning team — Jonas Hector, Joshua Kimmich and Julian Draxler — are first-choice starters.
“Despite our success here and with the juniors in Poland, we’ll still have to reconfirm our victories next year (at the World Cup), but the job starts now, the work is just beginning,” said Loew.
“The young ones are only just coming up, this is the first tournament for many of these players.
“They have done well, but staying at the top is another matter and we will have to work hard to defend our title next year.
“The team had to fight back, the Chileans are very robust and things were heating up in the second half, we were fighting for every metre to defend our lead.
“It was a magic match for our young players, they haven’t had much experience, but they showed their single-minded determination, which was quite impressive.”
Chile were lucky not to have defender Gonzalo Jara sent off for elbowing Werner in the face during the second half, but despite a review by the video assistant referee (VAR), Jara was only booked.
“I didn’t see it from where I was standing, but the VAR was consulted and I saw the reply,” said Loew.
“It could have been worthy of a red card and I think if a referee sees something like that, he could and should have dismissed him.”
South American champions Chile have promised to stay faithful to their adventurous approach which often threatens to blow their opponents away but also leaves their own defence dangerously exposed.
“Our gameplan is always to have the initiative, to take the leading role, have control and create openings,” coach Juan Antonio Pizzi told reporters.
“Our commitment in the future is to continue doing the same.”
Chile were once renowned as relative lightweights in South America but in the last few years have become one of the continent’s most inventive and versatile sides, with a readily identifiable whirlwind style of play.
They invariably press high and try to win possession deep in the opposition’s half and, when they have the ball, throw players forward in numbers in a manner which former Spain coach Vicente del Bosque once said was like “facing 11 kamikazes.”
Marcelo Bielsa, the eccentric Argentine coach who took them to the 2010 World Cup, began the transformation which was continued by Jorge Sampaoli who led them to their first major title, the Copa America in 2015, and by Pizzi.
Under Pizzi they also won last year’s Copa Centenario, a special tournament to celebrate the Copa America’s 100th anniversary.
Despite their two titles, Chile often threaten to blow themselves out and recent results have been inconsistent.
They still have a fight on their hands to qualify for next year’s World Cup, currently lying fourth in the 10-team South American group where only the top four qualify directly.
Pizzi admitted that poor finishing let them down in Russia.
“Converting your chances is one of the most difficult things to do in football, and when you take them, it completely changes the course of the game,” he said, adding that his team did not know how to play any other way.
“Our gameplan was what you saw from the start,” he said. “We like to play this way and we believe it gives us a better chance.
“Putting opponents under pressure near their goal is also a way of defending. We prefer this to sitting back and playing on the counter-attack.”
He said it had won them admiration from other teams.
“It was remarkable how much respect we got from our opponents.”