The Germany national team are set to play the final three international fixtures of 2020, which, given the current climate, will be a challenge both on and off the pitch. Ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Czech Republic (20:45 CET) in Leipzig, Oliver Bierhoff, DFB’s national team and academy director, spoke about the team’s targets and Joshua Kimmich’s injury. DFB.de brings you the quotes.
… International fixtures during the coronavirus crisis: We’re very pleased that we will hopefully be able to complete our last international phase of the year. Alongside the excitement, however, there is a great deal of worry among all of us, which has us constantly checking the coronavirus numbers in the Bundesliga, in football and among the general population.
… Trust in the team: I have a lot of conversations with coaches and players, advisors, the DFB presidential board, the press, friends, acquaintances, taxi drivers, tradesmen. It is true - we are no longer Germany’s favourite child. That’s just a fact, and we’re not automatically entitled to be that. We have let the fans down and we need to earn their trust again, one step at a time through hard work and success. Since we began rebuilding, the lads have been eagerly taking on this challenge. The young players have earned our trust and they will repay it. We need success in order for this to happen, which we haven’t had much of yet. The attitude, the effort and the passion are there though.
… Germany’s targets for the coming games: We want a resounding win in our important match against the Ukraine on Saturday, then we can travel to Spain and hopefully go all out, because everything is still possible in the group. We need to be careful and alert, though, because we should not underestimate the Ukraine. We have a few newcomers, who we can try out against the Czech Republic on Wednesday. We don’t want to use players who’ve also had Champions League games in all three of our games. That would be irresponsible.
… Joshua Kimmich’s injury: I spoke to him today; he is confident and relieved that it’s not as bad an injury as was first feared. We’re pleased about this as well. It’s obviously a loss for us this time to not have him in the squad, but we’re confident he’ll be back and able to play again soon.
… The chance to grow as a team: We don’t have a lot of training sessions together, we have players in the squad who still need to find their rhythm after recovering from injuries or who haven’t played for a longer time. This leads to difficulties. Especially at the back, we need more coordination. I would have liked us to win one or two more games, but on the other hand it’s important for our young players to weather this storm, in order for them to grow. That’s what I hope for – us to grow closer together in difficult moments. We obviously can’t afford any slipups.
… The size of the squad: I don’t expect us to still have 27 players by the end of the current international spell. We had some discussions regarding whether or not to allow all the players to travel and arrive on Monday. I expect the odd player or two to return home at short notice again. We’ll decide that after the respective games though.
… Thilo Kehrer’s visit: I was pleased to see him today. He’s suffering with groin problems and he came along for some tests – we’ve got good people here, experts. He’ll be off again after that, but it was important for everyone to see him nonetheless.
… Mario Götze: I’m glad he’s settled very quickly at Eindhoven. Football is different in every country. Jogi is not a fan of knee-jerk reactions, but if he keeps up the good form, Götze could always be an option for us. We’re making efforts to keep all of our options open.
… A European Championship in coronavirus times: We have to assume that the situation will not have left us by next summer. I’m expecting strict regulations to be in place, but we’re all showing discipline, so I assume the tournament will go ahead. I doubt the grounds will be full, but I hope a few fans can attend. It will certainly be a different kind of European Championship from what we’re used to.
… Aims for the EUROS: It would be crazy to pretend that the EUROS aren’t on our mind yet. We want to be successful there – we absolutely do not want a repeat of the 2018 World Cup. We do need to be aware, however, that the team will not be able to deliver their best by that time. By 2022 and 2024 we might be even stronger. Nevertheless, we need to try and get the best out of next summer’s tournament.