Posted: Thursday March 21, 2013 5:59 AM

Germany plays Kazakhstan twice in 4 days

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -To prepare for the World Cup qualifying match in Kazakhstan, Germany practiced on artificial turf playing handball.

Friday's match in Astana will be played on an artificial pitch. But handball?

German scouts say Kazakhstan plays a defense that drops so far back that it resembles the semi-circle zone in handball, so coach Joachim Loew had his players passing the ball around with their hands and trying to break through.

That was only one training session, however, while the rest was more traditional football work.

More worrying for the Germans than the Kazakhstan defense and the artificial turf could be the absence of several key players.

Midfielders Toni Kroos, Sven Bender and Lars Bender, defenders Mats Hummels and Holger Badstuber, and striker Miroslav Klose are all out with injuries and illness.
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