This summer’s World Cup in Russia (14th June – 15th July) is fast approaching and the Germany national team are making their final preparations for the tournament with the current international break and competition hotting up for places in the squad. The international friendlies begin with a game against Spain in Düsseldorf on Friday (KO 20:45 CET) and a second against Brazil in Berlin on Tuesday (KO 20:45 CEST).
National coach Joachim Löw’s team met on Tuesday in Düsseldorf, and today (Wednesday), national business manager Oliver Bierhoff and Thomas Müller answered questions for the first press conference. There was good news from the training pitch – only Sebastian Rudy was unable to make the first session as he went to visit his heavily-pregnant wife. Emre Can left the session after 20 minutes due to mild back pains, which was purely a precautionary measure. DFB.de brings you the Bierhoff and Muller’s most important quotes from the press conference.
... THE COMPETITION WITHIN THE GERMANY SQUAD: I see it as a really positive situation when you look at who’s come to the national team. Almost all the squad is available. Just Sebastian Rudy has gone to visit his wife, who is heavily pregnant. We’re not sure yet whether he’ll be able to return in time. Other than that, I could sense that everyone was happy to be back together. Although there’s great competition between the players, everyone is supporting each other. We have an unbelievably deep squad with quality players. That can be difficult for the coach and a challenge to juggle. Overall, it’s a positive that we’ve become more flexible and that the coach has more options available.
...THE UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL OPPONENTS AND THE SOLD-OUT STADIA: For me, Spain are one of the favourites for the World Cup. We’re facing some big opponents, prestigious opponents. The international friendlies also give a view for the World Cup call-ups. They’re important games for the coach. The focus is narrowing down more and more. The coaches want to use the international break to speak with the players, to work and to learn lessons from the games. For the team, the games are a great opportunity to show their abilities and it’s a chance to show that this team really is something special, despite current speculation, and to present German football in the best possible light. I’m delighted that both games have sold out. We’re always scrutinising ticket sales. We’re facing two strong sides and people and people are sensing that the team are going to take the games really seriously and want to play great football. We always strive to play quality football against top-class opponents.
...MANUEL NEUER’S VISIT: Everyone was delighted that Manuel came along. The visit was planned a while ago in order to exchange ideas. I’m still positive, as is he, that he will play a part at the World Cup. From our side, there’s no pressure. It’s up to him and the doctors. As a player, you develop a inner feeling. We hope and wish that he can cope with the strain on his body if we do select him. There is one big difference to the run-up to the 2014 World Cup, when he was also injured – lacking practice. But I think, with intense and varied training drills, he can quickly return to becoming the goalkeeper we’re used to seeing.
...THE DEVELOPMENT OF GERMAN FOOTBALL: I’m strongly of the opinion that German football is working at full capacity. The national team is proof of how good this work is. But we have to pay attention to the development. You don’t have to be an expert to see that we have to take an important next step forwards. I’m convinced that no other country is set up as well as us in terms of infrastructure, working with the clubs and youth development. It’s important that we invest in football in general and that we support footballing academies.
...BAYERN HEAD COACH JUPP HEYNCKES: We’re thankful to Jupp Heynckes for developing players. He gives Germany players a certain importance and he provides the players with a setting in which they can develop. In addition, the players receive useful feedback and instructions. That helps us in our preparations for the World Cup.
...FIRST WORLD CUP OPPONENTS, MEXICO: Mexico is a big footballing nation. We’ll continue to watch them closely. The game will be special because no one knows exactly what level the teams will be at. They’re also our most prestigious opponents in the group. We have a lot of respect for them and we’re expecting them to be aggressive opponents, just as in the Confed Cup.
...THE SITUATION WITH GERMANY’S FORWARDS: We saw it again at the weekend – Mario Gomez scored two goals, while Timo Werner and Sandro Wagner also scored a goal each. We have strikers who can score from the tightest angles. They live for goals and it’s good for the players to push each other.
...EXCITEMENT FOR THE WORLD CUP AND THE FRIENDLY OPPONENTS: The World Cup is just around the corner. I’m really excited, even if both games come ahead of an even more important period. They’re two first-class international friendlies, it’s always fun to play against the best, so the excitement is there and the World Cup will be in the back of our minds during the games. We’re all heading into the games with the right mentality to win them; that’s always the case, whether it’s a competitive game or a friendly. If they go well, it’ll give us a boost, but it won’t throw us off course if they don’t go so well. Spain always play very attackingly. They played excellently in the qualifiers and they have a huge amount of quality and power. It’s going to be a really interesting match, even for the neutral.
...THE COMPETITION WITHIN THE GERMANY SQUAD: The internal competition is always there. It helps us maintain our high levels. Every player knows that they’re being challenged by others and they can’t afford to let their foot off the gas. We have a good mix of experience and youth. Germany always have top players. It’s a great situation for the coach to be in.
...HIS CLUB COACH JUPP HEYNCKES: He drives us along. He’s breathed new life into the team, even though he’s been at the club for a very long time. Despite our big advantage in the table, he keeps his foot on the gas and doesn’t allow any slacking in training. He deals with the players exceptionally well. It’s a good mix between incentive and allowing the players freedom. He demands strong performances from us constantly.
...MANUEL NEUER’S VISIT: He sets a good impression. I don’t know too much about the medical side of things, but I haven’t heard any talk that he won’t be in our plans. In my opinion, you can never write off Manu. I think he’ll be able to make the World Cup.