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Loew lauds Diego’s lads

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ERASMIA – Germany coach Joachim Loew called Argentina a favourite to win the World Cup, and said yesterday that it would be a mistake to believe Lionel Messi was the only good player on Diego Maradona’s team.Loew said he expected a close game when the two teams play each other in the quarter-finals in Cape Town on Saturday.“Argentina have a great many strengths. They’re one of the big favourites, maybe the favourite for the World Cup title,” Loew said. “They have a big defence and an outstanding offence. It’s not only Lionel Messi. But I think we have identified some areas where Argentina are vulnerable.”He declined to give details.Loew predicted that Saturday’s match would be “intense and physical”, as was the encounter at the same stage four years ago in Germany, when the hosts went through to the semi-finals on penalties.That match was marred by a punch-up after the shoot-out that involved players and officials from both benches.“I am also expecting an attacking game,” Loew said. “Argentina are a tightly-knit team that can give you a lot of trouble and they are clinical in punishing your mistakes.”He described Maradona as “a genius, phenomenal” in his playing days, “an idol to millions of fans”.“It’s difficult to judge him as a coach. I don’t really know him,” Loew said. “But what I’ve read and what the team has shown is positive.” (AP)