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Germany's Loew prefers old 16-team Euro to bigger version

Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - Germany News Conference - Stade Camille Fournier, Evian-Les-Bains, France - 18/6/16 - Germany's coach Joachim Loew during news conference. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - Germany News Conference - Stade Camille Fournier, Evian-Les-Bains, France - 18/6/16 - Germany's coach Joachim Loew during news conference. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

By Karolos Grohmann

EVIAN, France (Reuters) - The old 16-team Euro finals was better than the new expanded 24-team format because there were more big clashes from day one of the competition, Germany coach Joachim Loew said on Saturday.

European soccer's governing body UEFA introduced eight more teams for Euro 2016, which led to the introduction of an extra last-16 round. As a result, some of the third-placed teams now join the top two from each group in the knockout rounds.

Previously, only the top two from the four groups advanced straight into the quarter-finals.

"The 16 teams was ideal. It made for great matches from day one." Loew, in charge for Germany for his third Euro, told reporters.

"This is a different situation and a return to the old system is obviously not possible anymore. So we have to accept that."

The introduction of more teams has meant some smaller, less powerful footballing nations such as Iceland and Albania have also qualified, arming themselves with populous defences.

After 21 matches, only one team, Spain, have managed to score three goals in one game.

"There are teams playing ultra defensively. But they do that well. The smaller nations like Albania or Wales are defensively very well schooled. They see their chance in that, so that is why we had only up to two goals per game until yesterday's Spain win (3-0) over Turkey."

Loew was also unhappy with the qualification modus for the Round of 16.

"Teams with one point from two matches still have a chance for the Round of 16. That is not very fair but it is what it is. So we just have to accept it and use the time we have to prepare for any opponent."

Germany, eyeing a fourth European title, are top of Group C with four points, as many as Poland. They play Northern Ireland on Tuesday and will advance with a win or draw.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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