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Soccer-World-Germany's Neuer fit for opening game, says Loew

Reuters

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SANTO ANDRE, Brazil, June 12 (Reuters) - Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has recovered from his shoulder injury and will start Monday's World Cup match against Portugal, coach Joachim Loew said on Thursday.

Germany captain Philipp Lahm, who was also struggling with an injured ankle, is likely to play a holding midfield position rather than in the back four, a visibly relieved Loew told a news conference ahead of his team's Group G opening game against Portugal in Salvador.

"The injury situation is causing me less and less concern," Loew said. "Manuel Neuer took part in training today and he is ready to go on Monday."

Neuer, Germany's number one goalkeeper for the last four years and pillar of their defence, injured his shoulder in Bayern Munich's German Cup final victory over Borussia Dortmund last month.

The injuries had cast a shadow over Germany's World Cup training camp.

Neuer did not play in the friendlies against Cameroon and Armenia. Lahm, considered one of the world's best right backs, played in midfield against Armenia.

"Phillip Lahm played midfield from the start against Armenia and I'm fairly confident that will be the same solution for us on Monday," Loew said.

Loew, addressing the media for the first time since his team arrived in Brazil five days ago, said he was in an extraordinarily good mood because the squad's base on an island was working out well despite concerns it would not be finished on time.

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Loew said he was pleased to report that mercurial playmaker Mesut Ozil was regaining his form in training after below-par performances in the last two friendlies.

"We've got an excellent camp location here and that's have a very positive effect on all of us," said Loew, whose team has been training at a new resort in an island built especially for the World Cup.

"The conditions are excellent. We're all coming together here. The players have a great chance to be together and the mood is very good. And that's lifting my mood as well. The concentration is high and the players are fired up in training. That's a good sign."

Loew said he has placed a major emphasis on getting the players adapted to the heat and humidity with temperatures in the north where his team will play their group matches can exceed 30 degrees.

He said he was also concerned by the 1 p.m. kickoff time on Monday - a time of day his players are not accustomed to.

"Playing at that time of day is not easy to adjust to, but it's do-able," he said.

"You've got to adapt to these temperatures, this heat and this humidity. There's not a dry jersey left after training here."

Loew believes the climatic challenges could turn into being one of the main stories of the World Cup in Brazil.

"There are matches in some regions where the temperature falls to 8 degrees or even lower while other regions the temperature rises above 30 degrees," he said.

"It's going to have an impact. Teams that play in the hotter regions will have to adjust their styles. Any athlete is capable of performing at a higher level in 10 degree temperature than in 35 degrees."

Germany also take on Ghana and the United States in Group G. (Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum in Sao Paulo, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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