The EUROs are getting closer and the team have arrived in their base camp in Herzogenrauch, at partner adidas’ ‘Home Ground’. One day before the European Championship opening game, Ilkay Gündogan and Oliver Bierhoff spoke about their impressions of the camp and expectations for the upcoming tournament. DFB.de has rounded up the most important quotes.
... the expectations of the team: We want to deliver. A Germany national team always has to deliver. however, we know that every successful team is a result of a long period of time spent playing together. After the 2018 World Cup, we had a rebuild and that takes time. I would even say that it would be even stronger in 2022 or 2024, but our aim us to deliver now.
... the upcoming first training session: The players have slowly settled in and had a look around. We had a period of rest until this morning, but now things are ramping up. The days before the first game are special - when you're thinking about where you are. You go through the final things. For the coaches, it's nice to be able to rely on all the players. We have the whole group together. From this afternoon onwards, the focus, concentration and excitement are increased, so we can deliver a top performance in the game against France.
... his impressions of the team's camp: A huge thanks goes to our partner adidas, who created conditions that could not have been better. We had thought about the conditions we'd be staying in given the Coronavirus. It's an intense period and it helps to have fantastic conditions. We have comfortable surroundings to spend time together as a group, and we’re looking forward to watching the other games together outdoors. The passion of the adidas employees is tangible; they want the team to succeed. We hope we can repay that with top performances and success.
… the opening game against France: I see France as the favourites, because they are the defending world champions and have some fantastic players in their squad who have been playing together for a long time. Their squad is packed with stars, but we also have several Champions League winners in our ranks and have quality of our own. You are a little more cautious in the opening game. Unlike during qualifying games, you don't necessarily have to win the game at all costs. I think the game will be a tactical one. In the past, we have always had interesting and tight games and that's what I'm expecting from the opening game as well.
… Leon Goretzka: Leon is ready to train with the ball and also take part in team training, but we have to manage his workload. He won't be available for the first game. He is a great person and, given his quality, a very important player. Therefore, I am convinced that he will still be able to play an important role for us during this tournament.
… competition within the team: The mood in the camp is really positive and we are all focused. You can see the players' commitment during training. The players all treat each other with respect, but at the same time everybody is trying to make their own mark. You don't notice any groups within the squad; it's a great mix.
... the make-up of the housing units in camp: Initially, we appointed seven captains, who were the seven players with the most international caps. It came about that there were two houses that only had three players. So then we drew names, but made sure that there were not several players from the same club in the same house. The aim was to have a good mix.
... possible players on standby: We haven't done that. The coaches have spoken to one or two players, but there is no specific list.
... the virtual meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel: It is the last tournament for her and Jogi. I appreciate it when the chancellor, regardless of who they are, wishes the team good luck. It is a great show of appreciation. We are looking forward to talking to her and it also makes a nice change from everything. But everyone recognises that this is important for the whole country, and that the team's success is important to everyone.
… his excitement for the tournament: I’m really excited – always am ahead of these tournaments. We can hardly wait. The mood really peaks when there are two or three games every day and you can always watch football.
… Germany’s first opponents, France: We know we’re playing against a team with lots of talented footballers. It could be that we have to sacrifice the majority of possession. We know that we can work aggressively off the ball. With two holding midfielders in a 3-4-3 formation, it’s extremely important to use the centre-backs in a way that they can help us break forward as well. It’s good to know that there are two players behind us that can protect the space. This makes it all the more important that the lads at the back support us. We can rely on that. It could be key to us winning back possession a lot and making France chase us.
… the midfield: I feel just as comfortable alongside Toni as I do with Joshua, Leon and Florian Neuhaus. Each of them has their own quality to offer. No matter who’s playing, they need to be aware of their role. The most important thing is to know what your individual role is, even when you don’t play so many games. From number one to 26 in the squad. Even if you’re not the main character, it’s important to use your position. That is another key to success in my opinion. I’ve played across every position in the midfield over the last two years. I know that every position has different tasks and that you have to adapt to each role. Whether I’m playing or not, and regardless of where I’m playing, I try to give my best to help the team be successful. That’s what matters.
… playing with Toni Kroos: The game against Spain was a really bad day with a really bad result. As a player you know that a lot of things have gone wrong. By March that wasn’t much of an issue for us anymore. We were a long way off what we expect from ourselves. Toni and I have spoken a few times in Seefeld about what we can do better as a pair. Our defending is one of them. I do think that the last game was a good start. We want to carry this momentum into the tournament.
… the base camp: Lots of people are saying that it’s similar to the Campo Bahia in 2014. The conditions here are fantastic, phenomenal. We want to make the best possible use of that in order to play a top tournament. We will watch the games together if we’re not training. It’s always more fun to watch in a big group and see what the other teams are capable of.
… defeat in the Champions League final: It’s not easy to stomach a defeat like this. We worked all year to get there – eight years for me. I lost the final again, and I’m extremely gutted about that. But life goes on, that’s the beauty of competitive sport. I had a few days off, which I needed I made good use of them. Now I’m focusing on the tasks at hand and I can look forward to the tournament, despite defeat in the final.
… the Champions League winners in the team: The Champions League win gives players a boost, gives them confidence. Especially Kai, who scored the winner, will have been given a massive boost, which we can use to help us as a team. I’m happy for them, they deserved it.
… his work in amateur football: I’ve been playing football since I was three years old. Since then, the ball has been the most important thing in my life. Football has given me so so much and I have a lot to thank it for. I am sad, that interest in football at a young age is diminishing, but I am happy that I am able to support and give something back to my old club that helped me a lot, so that more kids can enjoy football.