Millennium Post

Germany hope to accomplish most difficult feat, says Loew

Moscow: Germany coach Joachim Loew said there was no greater challenge than defending the World Cup title ahead of the reigning champions' opening game against Mexico on Sunday.

No country since Brazil in 1962 has successfully retained the World Cup, with Italy the only other side to win back-to-back trophies, in 1934 and 1938.

"It's the most difficult feat and history has demonstrated that, no one in 60 years has done it," Loew told reporters at the Luzhniki Stadium on Saturday.

"Teams develop and change, players finish their careers and you must bring in new players which makes it the most difficult achievement."

Nine of the players selected by Loew for Russia were part of Germany's title-winning squad four years ago, although the likes of former captain Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose are all gone.

"As far as hunger and ambition, it is there," said Loew, whose side will also meet Sweden and South Korea in Group F. "It's palpable and you can sense it is there among the players.

"The tension is rising, you can see it is a very special occasion for all of them. There's no greater occasion for a player than to play in a World Cup final, but we must focus on each individual match and not think too far ahead of ourselves.

"We want to get the message out that we want to win this opening match and then go from there." Germany are notoriously strong starters at the World Cup, winning their last seven opening matches at the tournament while losing just once -- 2-1 to Algeria in 1982 -- in 18 total appearances.

"I can only speak about the times when I was coach, but we have often won the first match in my time," Loew said.

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