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Löw facing defensive dilemma

Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012, 17.31CET
Steffen Potter is advocating a tactical rethink for Germany ahead of Saturday's meeting with Portugal, suggesting Joachim Löw switch Philipp Lahm to right-back to silence Cristiano Ronaldo.
by Steffen Potter
from Gdansk
Published: Wednesday 6 June 2012, 17.31CET

Löw facing defensive dilemma

Steffen Potter is advocating a tactical rethink for Germany ahead of Saturday's meeting with Portugal, suggesting Joachim Löw switch Philipp Lahm to right-back to silence Cristiano Ronaldo.

It will be really interesting to see just how Joachim Löw lines up his side for Germany's UEFA EURO 2012 opener against Portugal on Saturday. How to stop Cristiano Ronaldo? That is surely one of the more interesting questions for the coach.

With eight FC Bayern München players in the squad, it makes sense to take a closer look at how Jupp Heynckes overcame Ronaldo's Real Madrid CF in this season's UEFA Champions League semi-finals.

In Holger Badstuber, Jérôme Boateng and Philipp Lahm, Löw boasts three of Bayern's four defenders in those two matches, and it looks likely that he will field all of them. However, contrary to Heynckes' approach with Bayern, when Badstuber and Boateng operated in the centre and Lahm played as a right-back, Löw seems set to deploy his skipper at left-back, with Badstuber and Per Mertesacker in central defence and Boateng on the right.

If those are the Bundestrainer's thoughts, he might want to reconsider. While the towering Boateng has featured as a right-back in the past, it is not his preferred position and he has rarely shone there for Germany. Many people are already asking if the bulky, powerful yet not especially mobile Boateng is the right choice to be charged with taming the quick and agile Ronaldo.

©Getty Images

Lahm can play on both the right and left

There is also another good reason for thinking about fielding Lahm at right-back. Boateng has never been the most probing defender in terms of supporting attacks, whereas that is Lahm's strongest suit. Given that Ronaldo is not particularly known for tracking back and helping out in defence, Germany's right-back is likely to have plenty of scope to cause mischief. Lahm would relish that prospect, as he did in the semi-final against Madrid.

Indeed, Lahm and Arjen Robben made life very difficult in those meetings for the Merengues' left-back Fábio Coentrão, with Lahm brushing past the Portuguese international to set up Mario Gomez's vital winner at the end of the first leg. Coentrão, of course, occupies the same position for his national team that he does for his club.

With second-choice left-back Marcel Schmelzer yet to fully prove himself on the international stage, Löw should therefore be giving serious thought to having Boateng and Lahm switch sides against Portugal – and maybe even for the entire tournament. Yes, Boateng would come across a similar threat in the form of Nani on the opposite flank, but the Manchester United FC man is surely the lesser of two evils.

Last updated: 26/06/12 5.34CET

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