- Associated Press - Thursday, June 12, 2014

PORTO SEGURO, Brazil (AP) - Players coming off the bench could have an unusually big impact on games at the World Cup because of the difficult weather conditions in Brazil, according to Germany coach Joachim Loew.

That means players shouldn’t necessarily think of being a substitute as a punishment, Loew said - rather it’s an opportunity to come on and decide the game against a tiring opposition in the second half.

“The second half will bring another stage of the match, that’s when the substitutes can make a difference,” Loew said. “At this World Cup it will be impossible to play an entire match with the 11 players who started.”

Germany plays its Group G games in Salvador, Recife and Fortaleza, where the weather is warm and humid. Loew says the climate will be a major factor in the tournament.

The German team opens against Portugal on Monday in Salvador, then plays Ghana on June 21 in Recife and the United States on June 26 in Fortaleza.

“We have very good conditions in our camp here and we’ve adjusted somewhat to the heat and humidity,” Loew said in his first news conference since Germany arrived in Brazil. “You have to adjust to these weather conditions but after three, four days you get used to it.”

Loew said he was pleased that his team picked the Atlantic coast for its base because the weather is similar to the conditions in match venues.

“At this World Cup, you will not only have to beat the rival, you will have to beat the kickoff times and the weather,” he said. “All 23 players have to be ready at an instant’s notice.”

Germany’s meticulous planning and preparation is legendary and the three-time champion appears not to be leaving anything to chance this time.

The team’s fully equipped practice ground, built from scratch, includes floodlights. The grass is exactly 22 millimeters long and the ground is on a north-south direction.

“This is the length of grass in all World Cup stadiums, and they all face the same direction,” Loew said. “We picked local grass because it grows a bit differently than in Europe, a little more sideways.”

Loew praised his team’s first opponent, saying Portugal was “world champion in counterattacking.”

He said Germany and Portugal were more or less evenly matched - “they rely a bit more on counterattacks, we like a little more possession.”

Germany opened the 2012 European Championship against Portugal and won 1-0. Both teams reached the semifinals.

Germany has not won the World Cup title since 1990. Under Loew, Germany lost the 2008 European final to Spain and was also beaten by the eventual champion in the 2010 World Cup semifinals.

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