Loew: Experience of facing Chile is priceless for Germany
KAZAN: As far as Joachim Loew is concerned, Germany has already won its Confederations Cup game against Chile.
Not because he is certain of victory in Thursday's Group B match in Kazan, but because the experience that his young squad will gain against the South American champions will be invaluable to the future of the national team.
"Our players need the experience of playing at this level against a team like Chile," Loew said. "It will be important for their development. This experience will be excellent for us, for the players."
Germany came to the Confederation Cup with a young squad that has only three players from its World Cup-winning team. It will be facing its toughest test yet against a Chilean side trying to win its third tournament in a row and establish itself as a contender outside of South America. Chile has won the last two Copa Americas and is seeking its first trophy in a major international competition.
Both teams are coming off opening victories in Group B. Germany defeated Australia 3-2 and Chile beat Cameroon 2-0. The winner on Thursday in Kazan will be guaranteed a place in the semifinals of the World Cup warm-up event.
"Against Chile it will be entirely different," said Loew, who will be trying to win his 100th match as Germany's national team coach. "It's fair to say that Australia was a team that in a way we could fathom. We knew how they played, knew their tactics. Chile, on the contrary, is much more flexible. They are unpredictable in many ways. All of their players can score, with the exception of one or two. It's one of the most flexible teams in the world and this means a special challenge for us."
Germany has won all three competitive games it played against Chile, all of them in World Cups. The teams last met in a 2014 friendly, with Germany winning 1-0 with a goal by Mario Goetze.
"We have a very young squad and we haven't played together that often," Germany midfielder Emre Can said. "That's why people put Chile slightly ahead of us."
Chile came to the Confederations Cup with its top players to try to finally break through with a title outside South America.
Chile captain Arturo Vidal said that it was in that loss to Germany in that 2014 friendly in Stuttgart that Chile realized that it could contend against the top teams.
"I always watch that game again when I can," Vidal said. "It's a good memory because we showed that we could play against anybody, even though we lost. I think that was the game in which Germany suffered the most that year before winning the World Cup."
Chile was eliminated by host Brazil in a penalty shootout in the Round of 16 of the World Cup, than went on to win the Copa America in 2015 and 2016.
The South American champions are currently ranked fourth in the world, just behind Germany,
"I don't pay too much attention to these numbers," Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said. "We all recognize that we are part of a group of national teams that have great players and have been competing very well. Sometimes we are better than our rivals and win, sometimes we lose."
Pizzi said forward Alexis Sanchez, who had been nursing a left ankle sprain and only played a few minutes from the bench against Cameroon, will likely start against Germany. Goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, however, will be sidelined again because of a left calf injury.
Loew said that goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen will return to the starting lineup after Bernd Leno played against Australia.
Cameroon and Australia will play the other Group B match on Thursday in St. Petersburg.