BERLIN (AP) — Defensive frailties are no cause for worry ahead of World Cup qualifiers against Austria and the Faeroe Islands, according to Germany coach Joachim Loew.
"We'll score more goals than we concede against Austria. I'm counting on that," said Loew, whose team has conceded nine goals in its last three games.
With qualification from Group C all but assured if Germany beats Austria in Munich on Friday and then wins in the Faeroe Islands four days later, attention is already turning to the prospect of winning the World Cup next year.
But the goals conceded in the 3-3 draw with Paraguay, 4-3 loss to the United States and 4-2 win over Ecuador have led to concerns that a soft underbelly harms the team's chances of succeeding.
The German coach is clearly irritated by the debate.
"Look at the qualification games for the 2012 European Championship, whether we conceded many goals," Loew said. "And please simply tell the difference between qualification games, tournament games, friendly games and preparation games."
Individual mistakes were to blame for goals conceded against Paraguay in Kaiserslautern on Aug. 14, and Loew said he was "relatively confident" there will be no repeat against Austria.
"It's not just the defense, the whole team is under obligation in this game. There will be a different team on the pitch and it will play differently to the side that played against Paraguay," Loew said.
Loew, who has been in charge since he was promoted as Juergen Klinsmann's assistant after the 2006 World Cup, brushed aside criticism of his attacking brand of football — a style which has won plenty of admirers for its attractive and exciting play, but is undermined by the problems in defense.
"We have to find the right balance. I've said that (before)," Loew said. "We won't go back and play defensively, only on the counterattack. A good team has to be strong offensively and then do the right things in defense. But that doesn't mean having the whole setup geared toward defending."
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