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'Criticism completely appropriate'

Boateng shines as defensive chief and leader

After a convincing display against Poland which earned him the Man of the Match award, Jérôme Boateng put it bluntly. The FCB defender has become a leader in the Germany team base. “He's absolutely respected and recognized within the team. I like that he clearly addressed the issues after the match,” Joachim Löw commented in Evian-les-Bains on Saturday.

“We have to take a shot at some point. We have to improve in this regard, otherwise we won't go far,” Boateng criticised the German attacking efforts. “It wasn't personal criticism. He expressed what everyone could see. Our defensive discipline was good, we didn't succeed up front. The criticism was completely appropriate,” said Löw.

Bruised hip a minor issue

Before the Euro finals the Germany head coach had asked Boateng “to talk more and to be more present at centre-back, with the whole play in front of him,” revealed Löw, who has seen Boateng as one of the leaders in the team for a long time. “Everybody respects him because he's a world-class centre-back, supplying impetus both in defence and up front. His performance in the 2014 World Cup final was a crucial factor for our triumph.”

Löw is likely to field the 27-year-old in the last group match against Northern Ireland next Tuesday to seal a spot in the last sixteen. Boateng's bruised hip sustained in the Poland match is not serious: “He's absolutely set for Tuesday.” Löw is “completely relaxed” before the decisive match on Tuesday: “We want to win against Northern Ireland. We will win. We'll win the group,” Löw declared.