DFB national teams and academy director Oliver Bierhoff spoke to the media earlier today about recent developments surrounding the Germany national team and the DFB management’s trust in head coach Joachim Löw.
...the development of the national team: We gave Jogi Löw clear goals following the disappointing 2018 World Cup and the subsequent rebuild. We wanted him to develop a team with a new playing style, we wanted to qualify for EURO 2020, we wanted to stay in League A in the UEFA Nations League and we wanted to be seeded in Pot 1 for the World Cup qualifying draw. We were all in agreement that it would require time and patience. It’s clear to say that we achieved all of our goals in 2019. The team had developed in terms of the football we were playing, and we lost just one of our ten games to qualify for the EUROs top of our group ahead of the Netherlands. 2020 has been an unprecedented year and the coach was unable to add to this development. The difficult situation meant that the team wasn’t able to develop. The boys didn’t meet up for ten months – that’s a very long time. In the three international breaks this year, Jogi had just one training session where he could work on tactics with the whole team. We were also missing a number of important players due to injury. When you don’t have much training time and have to keep rotating, then you lose quality because not as much is second nature to the players. The coach did a good job this year too considering the circumstances. We of course threw away a number of games, but we still achieved our goal of staying in League A in the Nations League.
...the heavy defeat to Spain: It’s not my job to defend Joachim Löw, but you can’t judge a head coach based on a single game. We also can’t forget that it wasn’t just the result that was damning against Spain, but also the way we played. Nevertheless, the team’s development as a whole can’t be reduced to one performance. It’s something I experienced myself; sometimes there are games where nothing comes together, no matter how hard you try. I can assure you all though that Jogi wasn’t resigned to defeat; he found the right words before the game and at half time, which is when he also switched to man marking, which worked really well against Spain in September. It just didn’t work this time.
...the squad: The team isn’t too young, but inexperienced. Serge Gnabry, who has undergone a fantastic development in recent years, has just 17 caps. Kai Havertz, who is one of Germany’s biggest talents, has just ten. We have a great bunch of guys who love joining up with us and are proud to play for their country. However, the team needs time, training sessions and games in order to gain experience and to gel.
...changes to the team’s playing style: We played much too slowly and sideways in 2018. We have to change our playing style towards a more high-intensity, vertical approach both with and without the ball. For that, we need more speed and stability going forward. Players like Leroy Sané, Timo Werner and Serge Gnabry aren’t exactly the type to hold onto the ball.
...goals for the EUROs: There is always pressure when Germany enter a major tournament. I find it difficult to define a concrete target though. It might be that we drag ourselves through the tournament and go out in the semis, or it could be that we play a brilliant group phase and suffer a really unlucky defeat in the last 16. We always have high expectations, even if we’re not one of the big favourites. Every team dreams of becoming European champions, but I will wait until the end of the tournament before I pass any judgement.