PHILIPP Lahm will not be moved back to his previous position of full-back, despite clamour in Germany for changes to be made to the national team for Friday night’s World Cup quarter-final clash with France.
Lahm was transformed into a midfielder by Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola last season and it is there where he has played most recently for Germany.
Following the enforced substitution of Shkodran Mustafi during Germany’s extra-time win over Algeria in the last 16, Lahm was moved back to the right-back position he had made his own for club and country over many years, earning recognition as one of the best in the world in that position.
His passing and tackling statistics improved considerably following the transition on Monday, which saw Sami Khedira partner Bastian Schweinsteiger in the Germany midfield. However, not even that is going to convince Germany boss Joachim Low to alter Lahm’s position in Rio.
“I have made up my mind already on Philipp Lahm’s role,” Low said. “And I am sticking by it to the very end.
“Philipp Lahm has been a leading figure for us in recent years and he’s been playing at the highest level for a decade, but he will only move back into defence if we have a problem on the right, at which point I might say ‘okay, now it’s up to Philipp who can push forwards down the right.’
“But that would only be an emergency scenario, and we need to prevent there being an emergency.”
His defiance will hardly comfort many Germany fans, who were left somewhat bemused by Low’s choices during a tighter-than-expected game against Algeria.
Mesut Ozil found himself in the firing line too, but Low has leapt to the Arsenal midfielder’s defence.
“Mesut is extremely important to us,” he said. “The criticism of him is just as incomprehensible as that for Lahm.
“Sometimes things get published a little too hastily and I don’t feel the right weight is given to certain things.”
Nevertheless, Low acknowledged that his side’s performance against Algeria was not necessarily a vintage one.
“You can’t always play fantastic football at a World Cup,” he said.
“You’ve just got to leave the field triumphant, and that’s what we did.”