Werner: “We want to be involved right until the very last game”
At long last, UEFA EURO 2020 is underway! Following Italy’s convincing win over Turkey on Friday night that opened the tournament, three more matches will kick off on Saturday. Germany are not in action until Tuesday evening, when head coach Joachim Löw’s side get the EUROs underway against France (21:00 CEST). Assistant coach Marcus Sorg and Timo Werner sat down in a press conference on Saturday to discuss the opening game in Munich and Germany’s chances against the world champions.
Marcus Sorg on…
…preparations for the tournament: After the intensive sessions in Seefeld, the focus has shifted onto the details of our tactics now. We’re looking to steadily get into the rhythm of tournament football as a team.
…the late opening match for Germany: From the players’ point of view, they always want to get going as quickly as possible. However for us coaches and as a squad, the extra days will do us a lot of good.
…extra motivation for Joachim Löw: The head coach is always very committed. He’s very keen to get the best out of himself and out of all of the players. But naturally that’s the case at every tournament.
…the opportunity to win back the hearts of the fans: Tournaments always provide a good chance to win the hearts of your fans because everyone gets into the spirit. The national team has a tough time doing that during the year, as you only really get this level of excitement at tournaments. We want to excite the fans with brave performances and want to the fans to be able to identify with us.
…Jonas Hofmann’s knee injury: Jonas wouldn’t still be with the team if we didn’t believe that he would recover in time. Our priority is getting him back into full team training as soon as possible.
…the motivation in the team: The players are highly motivated and eager to get going. They all worked very hard in the run-up to the tournament and the level of desire to participate in the EUROs is extremely high for everyone. There is a great will to be successful within the squad.
…competition within the squad: The willingness to work hard is incredible. There are always different roles for players within a squad and there’s no guarantee of a starting place compared to at club level. A good team spirit is always characterised by players giving it everything they’ve got in order to try and force their way into the starting XI. At the end of the day, it can be just one bit of quality that wins a football match. That’s what we’re always working towards.
…tactics against France: France have played with a few different systems over the past few years, but the underlying philosophy is always the same. We also have a squad with a lot of quality. What will count is working hard and having the belief in ourselves so that we can make the best use of that quality out there on the pitch. At the same time, we have to neutralise the strengths that they have. It’s all about playing our own game and reacting to situations in the match.
…third group stage opponents Hungary: Just as in every game, there’s three points up for grabs against Hungary. Our focus is split equally on all three group stage matches, though they will all be very different games. The value of each game is the same, even if Hungary might have received a little less public attention so far.
…the underdog role: Of course, France are seen as the favourites by the public. But we don’t need to talk our players up; they have enough self-confidence and we want to make our mark against the world champions.
…Vincente del Bosque’s letter to Joachim Löw: I’ve not had the chance to speak to Joachim about that yet, but it’s a fantastic gesture from Vincente del Bosque. Both men are huge personalities in the world of football and I have a huge amount of respect for them.
Timo Werner on...
... excitement for the tournament: The EUROs are always special, everyone is excited. We have to wait a little while for our first game, which is nice. Everybody is looking forward to watching games on TV and is ready to play. We prepared well and that should be enough to be fit and raring to go.
…the groups of players from Bayern & Chelsea: It’s good to have groups of players from the same clubs. Football is played differently in the Premier League compared to the Bundesliga. If I can bring that physical side of the game with me that I’ve learnt in England, I can help the national side too.
…his first year in England: It’s obviously great that we won the Champions League. I have developed myself in many areas and improved overall. However, I have to be critical of myself and say I should have scored a few more goals. As a striker, you always have a season where things don’t go so well. The good thing was that I constantly got into positions to score goals, I just wasn’t clinical enough.
…his favourite position: We’re relatively flexible. I can play in any of the three attacking positions. We’ve got a number of players who can play in several different positions during a game.
…his pink boots: I didn’t design them, adidas did. I think they look good, though. Nowadays, you change your boots every few months and you can wear pink ones as a man.
…goalkeeper Manuel Neuer: Manuel has been the best goalkeeper in the world by far for many years now. If you don’t put it right in the corner in training, you expect him to save it. He’s got an incredible aura and he’s a top-class keeper.
…Chelsea teammate N’Golo Kanté: His biggest strength is his modesty, which is why everyone likes him around the world. He always gets stuck in, marks opponents closely, and is an asset for any team he plays for. The way he wins back possession to start counters is really important for us at Chelsea.
…a place in the starting XI: Obviously I want to play as many minutes as possible, but it’s a team tournament and it’s all about the collective, not individuals. I want to contribute any way I can, no matter if that’s as a starter or off the bench.
…the French defence and attack: France wouldn’t have won the World Cup if they didn’t have top-class defenders. They have so many players who are good at tackling, N'Golo Kanté and Benjamin Pavard to name just two. They’re not the tournament favourites for nothing. The front three of Mbappé, Griezmann and Benzema are world class as well. When you have players that good in your team, it’s an amazing thing. France want to be European Champions as much as we do, so they’ll be picking their strongest line-up.
…France striker Karim Benzema: You can always learn things from watching a striker as good as him. He’s achieved so much and has enormous quality. He’s very good on the ball and is always at the centre of attacking moves for Real Madrid. In the penalty area, he’s very good in the air and has enormous technical quality. He’s up there with the very best strikers like Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo for me.
…a possible role as an impact sub: As a striker, it’s important to be able to make a difference off the bench. It’s a very normal role for a forward to have at this level. It’s crucial that you show the coach that you can help the team.
…the team in comparison to the 2018 World Cup: You approach every tournament in the same way, with everyone motivated and full of desire. In Russia we didn’t perform well on the pitch, but it wasn’t all bad off it and we came together as a team. But from a sporting point of view, it did not go well. We want to be involved right until the very last game. To do that, we’ll have to bring all of our quality onto the pitch with us and we’re all working very hard on that.
...Antonio Rüdiger: Toni sometimes looks serious, but he’s a very funny guy and a kind-hearted person. I played with him at Stuttgart and now we’re reunited at Chelsea. He’s a bit of a crazy guy but that’s one of the great things about him. He leaves everything in duels and gives us the sense that we have a warrior in defence who will put his body on the line. He also contributes going forward too and that’s why he’s such an important member of the team, not just for Germany but at Chelsea too.
…VAR: Without VAR, I could have scored maybe five more goals. However, VAR is helpful and the basic concept of it is good. And I'm saying that as someone who has probably suffered the most from it this season.