Lahm sick of finishing third

Lahm sick of finishing third

Germany head to Brazil aiming to end their 24-year wait for a fourth World Cup title with captain Philipp Lahm insisting he is sick of finishing third.

Consecutive semifinal defeats have led to Germany taking bronze at both of the last two World Cups with Lahm in the side and it is 12 years since the Germans lost the 2002 final to Brazil in Yokohama, Japan.

“I do not want to go out in the semifinals again or visit Brazil just to soak up the sun,” insisted Lahm after a decade in the Germany team.

“I have a clear goal, to achieve the biggest possible success and win the World Cup.”

In order to break their duck, improved counter-attack and a tighter defence are the key areas coach Joachim Loew wants to improve.

The squad is packed with attacking potential, but there have been rumours of discontent in the past with disgruntled stars disrupting the harmony from the bench at both the 2012 European Championships and in the World Cup qualifiers.

“We have the necessary punch to win the title, but we must be sure that the talent and ego of every individual provides only for the team’s benefit,” said Lahm with team building also a priority in their south Tirol camp.

The 24-year wait for a fourth World Cup title is Germany’s longest since first winning the global crown in 1954.

Younger members of the squad, including midfield star Mario Goetze, were yet to be born when West Germany won Italia 1990 — the last time they were world champions.

In the past, Loew’s strength has been to instill impressive cohesion into his side by hours of drilling. But injuries and a lack of fitness in his first-choice stars could hamper the process. “We need to work on our flexibility and variation,” said the 54-year-old.

“You always need a ‘what-if’ strategy during matches, but we also need to improve our counter-attacking when we have won the ball back.

“We haven’t done that as consistently well as we did at the South African World Cup and immediately after.”

Germany have made a habit of suffering from injuries going into World Cup campaigns.

This time, the fault line runs right along the back-bone of Loew’s first-choice side.

Lars Bender’s withdrawal has removed a defensive midfield option with Loew’s first-choice pairing of vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira both lacking fitness after respective knee injuries.