Three days ahead of Die Mannschaft’s second group stage game on Saturday versus Sweden, Oliver Bierhoff, the Germany national team manager, spoke from Sotschi about the mood in camp and more. We noted what he had to say.
… the mood in camp: It’s important not to overlook what happened and talk about everything, go deeper. It’s important that everything isn’t just coming from the coaching staff’s perspective but the players too. The symptoms that we’ve picked up on aren’t only visible in one game. Our analysis was open and honest. It’s important that we find a good mix between focus and relaxation. We have to be fully focused and talk about things but also have an eye on the game to come. We have the capabilities to do it. We just have to show them.
… the return to Sotschi: The players had some wonderful experiences here. However, the sky being blue doesn’t make a difference. The performance on the pitch is what matters.
… the reasons for the poor start: It’s not easy to pin it down to one thing. It’s not that the players didn’t want to but we were off the pace – especially in the second half. It’s crucial that we don’t repeat our mistakes. We lost our shape at times. That can’t happen. We didn’t maintain the levels we’ve set ourselves. We have to do that to be successful at this level.
… facing Sweden: Defending is their strong point. Sweden will make it a tight, tough game. We have to win. That’s clear. That puts Sweden in a different position – they can let things play out. We want to take the game to our opponents again. When we do that, it’s not as important how the opposition play. It’ll be a tough slog but that’s what you have to do during a tournament.
… the leading players: There’ll be a reaction from all the players. Everyone knows that we didn’t show what we can do. The first step is concentrating on our own game, keeping calm, taking the initiative and showing our quality.
… reaching the last 16: The situation is clear. We have to win both games. It’s in our own hands. We have to take it one game at a time and first is Sweden.
… quality in attack: We have lots of creative players who are capable of unlocking a defence. It’s very difficult when a team sits deep and hits you on the break with pace. We have to dig deeper which we didn’t manage against Mexico. We know we have the capability and the pace to do so.
… what makes him optimistic: The team has always been able to play to its maximum in key moments. Everyone is willing to give more and win the game as a team.