Soccer-Germany are a work in progress, says relieved Loew


RECIFE, Brazil, June 26 (Reuters) - Germany coach Joachim Loew was satisfied and relieved with his team's 1-0 win over the United States on Thursday which clinched top spot in World Cup Group G and booked a last-16 berth.

Loew pointed out, however, that Germany still had plenty of room to improve, especially in their far-from-satisfying finishing which needs to be sharper when the World Cup enters the business end.

"There is always something to tweak, always something we can improve," Loew told reporters. "The organisation and the aggressiveness was better than in previous matches.

"I would have liked the team to be a bit more active, even though (the United States) were defending very deep against us."

Loew, who was seen flailing his arms and shouting angrily in stoppage time, said he was alarmed about carelessness in the closing stages when Germany missed a chance to double their lead and lost possession in midfield.

"We lost the ball at the end of the match unnecessarily and that's really dangerous - other teams take advantage of that," said Loew, assistant to U.S. manager Juergen Klinsmann when he was Germany coach from 2004 to 2006 and a close friend of his.

"We had actually set out to avoid that kind of thing," he said when asked what had upset him. "We could have had two or three more goals if we had played with a bit more finishing concentration."

Loew made two key changes to his midfield, replacing Sami Khedira with Bastian Schweinsteiger for the first time in Brazil and inserting the more experienced Lukas Podolski in place of Mario Goetze.

"I think we were dominant in midfield," said Loew, sounding pleased that his team kept a clean sheet against the United States who had scored twice in each of their opening games two against Ghana and Portugal.

"We put a lot of pressure on them and didn't allow them to come through. We did not leave them many chances to score. Schweinsteiger left a good impression on me. He had energy, he had a good match."

Loew and Klinsmann had avoided all contact in the run-up to the World Cup but after the final whistle they revived their friendship dating back to a German coaching academy they attended together 14 years ago.

"I asked him about the result (of the Portugal-Ghana match) and he told me (the U.S.) had also advanced to the next round," said Loew.

"I told him I'm happy for him. It wasn't easy or clear that was to be expected.

"The United States were the underdogs and Juergen did it," he added. "I'm really happy for the leap forward they've taken. They've got a lot of quality, a lot of fight and they can run and run.

"If you've got a team that beats Ghana and draws against Portugal, I think you deserve to get to the last 16," he said. (Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by Zoran Milosavljevic)

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