Bastian Schweinsteiger Not to be Blamed For Germany's Euro 2016 Loss, Says Joachim Loew
Bastian Schweinsteiger, who had a disappointing game in the semi-final against France, finally brought an end to a season that was marred with injuries and inconsistency
- Associated Press
- Updated: July 08, 2016 07:16 AM IST
- France have entered Euro final for first time after 16 years
- France won the Euro at home in 1984
- France will take on Portugal in the final
Bastian Schweinsteiger barely put a foot wrong in the first half of Germany's European Championship semifinal against France. It was his hand that got him and his team into trouble.
Battling for position with Patrice Evra at a corner in first-half stoppage time of Thursday's match, Schweinsteiger's raised arm and hand made contact with the ball and referee Nicola Rizzoli pointed to the spot. The 31-year-old Germany captain could only look on as Antoine Griezmann calmly converted the spot kick with the last touch of the first half.
With Griezmann doubling France's lead in the 72nd minute, pouncing on sloppy defending and a ham-fisted clearance by goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, Schweinsteiger's miserable, injury-marred season finally ended - one match too early for his liking.
As Germany pushed for the goals that could turn the match around, Joachim Loew replaced Schweinsteiger in the 79th minute with the more attacking Schalke midfielder Leroy Sane.
Loew didn't blame his captain for the penalty, which had echoes of the quarterfinal against Italy, when defender Jerome Boateng gave away a spot kick with a handball.
"There's nothing to blame him for," Loew said of his captain, who won his 120th cap on the night. "You can say the hand shouldn't be there, but there are movements when you jump up, you can't control them. I can't blame any player for that."
Up until that moment, Schweinsteiger appeared to be putting his disappointing season behind him with the kind of dominant defensive midfield performance that helped power Germany to World Cup glory in 2014.
The right knee injury that sidelined him for much of his club season with Manchester United had threatened to keep him out of the semifinal, along with midfield partner Sami Khedira and striker Mario Gomez.
In the end, Schweinsteiger was declared fit and if his knee was hurting, it didn't show.
The tireless midfielder at times appeared to be man-marking both Griezmann and Olivier Giroud, reading the game so well that he could cut out passes before they reached France's danger men and, failing that, time his tackles to perfection.
But in this match he will be remembered for his inadvertent handball that came seconds before the halftime whistle and decisively swung the momentum France's way.
"It's always bad to concede just before the break," was all Schweinsteiger could say about the incident.
Schweinsteiger's prominent role in the Germany side that won the World Cup in Brazil two years ago must feel like a long time ago to a player who was a midfield cornerstone in a dominant Bayern Munich team, before his move to Old Trafford.
After a strong start, repeated injuries ended his season prematurely. He was not even on the bench when his team beat Crystal Palace to win the FA Cup.
On Thursday night, a tournament that could have salvaged the season ended in more heartache. Schweinsteiger cut a dejected figure as he trudged across the Stade Velodrome turf to console his teammates as France's players celebrated.
"Of course we're sad and disappointed not to reach the final, but that's football," he said. "You're left with empty hands sometimes."