Soccer-Loew pleased after Germany improve against France


By Julian Linden

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 4 (Reuters) - Germany upped their game in overcoming France in their World Cup quarter-final on Friday, coach Joachim Loew said after his side had faced widespread criticism for struggling to beat Algeria in the last 16.

"We played well, we played with a compact defence," Loew said after a 1-0 victory secured by a first-half Mats Hummels goal.

"They had some long balls against us but we did a classy job taking care of those. Our midfield did a very good job disrupting their attack. We didn't have any organisation problems."

Loew was not fully satisfied, however, with his team losing possession too often in a match that neither side took control of.

"We had some phases where we kept losing the ball and that could have got us in trouble," Loew told German television.

Loew said it was too early to tell if would keep captain Philipp Lahm as a right fullback, where he played well on Friday after he struggled at times as a holding midfielder in several of Germany's previous World Cup matches.

"It'll depend on what condition our players are in over the next few days," said Loew. "We have to divvy up the work."

He said that Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger, who helped keep France at bay with solid displays in midfield, went to their physical limits in the match and indicated that both might not be able to play 90 minutes in the semi-finals - a hint that Lahm could move back to midfield for a last four meeting with Brazil or Colombia.

"They went to their limits. We need players who are fresh and recovered. They did a good job today."

Loew said all his players were exhausted after the match against France.

"It was an incredibly exciting match but you can't expect anything else at the World Cup. Both teams were equals. Our team had fought hard to the end.

"The players are really wiped out now with the sun in the stadium. It was incredibly hot, it was an intensive match back and forth. The players are dead tired." (Writing by Erik Kirschbaum)

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