RIO DE JANEIRO – Germany coach Joachim Loew's decision to make several changes in his lineup and return captain Philipp Lahm to right back made his defense stronger and earned his team a place in the semifinals of the World Cup.
Germany's 1-0 win over France in Friday's quarterfinal at Maracana was not particularly pretty but at least Loew's team did not repeat the slapstick mistakes of its 2-1 victory over Algeria at the start of the knockout round.
Loew took Lahm out of the midfield and returned him to his favorite position as right back. The coach dropped center back Per Mertesacker and replaced him with Mats Hummels, healthy again after flu. Germany's back four looked solid again and Hummels not only scored the winning goal but made some key defensive interventions.