The classic between England and Germany on Holy Saturday (20:45 CET) is getting ever closer, and similarly, the excitement is ever growing. Head coach Joachim Löw held his final press conference ahead of the match this afternoon, and offered his opinions on a range of topics including the opposition, his starting XI and the U21 side. DFB.de have all his points here.
...England: I am of the opinion that both games are very important, as both of the teams will be hoping to challenge for the title this summer. We’re looking forward to two highly-competitive games that will give us an important insight into the team ahead of the European Championships. It’s an excellent stage for the players to prove themselves once again. England have developed very well under Roy Hodgson - he is an experienced manager, sets up his teams very well and makes it difficult to find a way through. They showed this through their results in qualification, they counter attack well, and have improved in recent years.
...personnel: All our players are fit and available for selection, with Julian Draxler and Karim Bellarabi both returning to training yesterday. We don’t have any problems and have a full squad to choose from.
...Mario Gomez: We watched Mario in Turkey. He has noticeably more self-belief, we see that in every training session. It’s also visible in his body language. He is scoring regularly in the league, and I was impressed with his performance in France too. I plan to start him from the beginning tomorrow, he deserves it after his performances in training in the last few days.
...Mario Götze: We had a long discussion yesterday evening, and talked about the whole situation. He will feature tomorrow at some point, the timing of his introduction is dependent upon the nature of the game. In Munich, he will get his chance from the beginning. He needs the game practice, although he still has some catching up to do in terms of fitness, but he, too, is aware of that. I hope that he gets some match practice at Bayern München, but we need to help him as much as we can too. He will only return to his previous level through minutes on the pitch.
...safety: This issue has rightfully been discussed a lot in recent times, as we are currently in a difficult situation. Everything you can think of is being done to ensure the EUROs are conducted peacefully. Safety is at the forefront of everything, there’s no doubt about that, but then we don’t want games in front of empty stadiums.
...his expectations of the game: They’re ideal opposition for us, games against England are always special. For me it will be important to try everything out again. I will use both games to watch certain players, looking ahead to the squad nominations. The result is not the most important thing, especially as these are the last two games before I name the squad. We are all looking forward to the match, as both teams are capable of emerging victorious. If I am able to learn a bit more about my players, then I will be satisfied.
...the U21s: You can’t draw too many conclusions from yesterday’s match, a win against the Faroe Islands is expected. We are certainly watching a few of the younger players, particularly because of their impressive recent performances. Leroy Sané has been with us before and has impressed - there are a few players who can hope to be invited to the EUROs. We have had talks with five or six players and told them that if their performances continue they will be considered for the final squad. Even if you forget the tournament this summer, it is very promising looking ahead to the World Cup in 2018.
...England's new star Jamie Vardy: He has played spectacularly this season. We have looked at England in depth in recent days, Jamie Vardy included. He knows how to score goals, and is very fast. I haven’t seen many players before that look for the free space so regularly. He looks to hurt the defence at every opportunity - an extremely dangerous striker.
...Robert Huth: He is playing very, very well at Leicester. I am very happy for him; he has also put in impressive performances for us. Were things to happen that we can’t predict, then Huth would of course be a very interesting player for us. I do prefer to build the squad around younger players though, like Boateng etc., who like to play out from the back.
...Jonas Hector: At the moment, Hector is playing on the left for us. His performances in training have confirmed our high expectations; he is developing and doing well.
...the right side of defence: We have played a few different players on the right in the past, but the final decision has not yet been made. I will try out two players there, but not make any final decisions yet. Matthias Ginter has played there, Emre Can and Sebastian Rudy too - and of course Benedikt Höwedes. We have lots of different options.