After completing their final training session before travelling to Reykjavik to face Iceland in their third World Cup qualifier of the international break (Wednesday, 20:45 CEST), national team coach Hansi Flick and midfielder Leon Goretzka took questions from the media in Stuttgart.
Marco Reus will miss the Iceland game due to what Flick described as a “small knee issue”. Ridle Baku will also not travel to Reykjavik, but “this has nothing to do with his performances,” insisted Flick.
... the game plan: It’s a game plan which we have wanted to implement as a whole coaching staff. Danny Röhl is fully on board, of course, and I have to commend Marcus Sorg on the part he’s played. The game plan is always something you come up with as a whole team – to implement something like that on your own is too difficult.
... what Leon Goretzka means to the team: You need players like Leon, who performed brilliantly against Armenia. He was unplayable, winning so many duels and set up two goals. We always try to play the best players we have and stop as many of our opponents as possible. He did that very well and had an enormous presence on the pitch. This game will become his new benchmark.
... Wednesday’s opponents: We know that Iceland are in a rebuilding phase at the moment. We’re focusing on ourselves, as we always have done. We have familiarised ourselves with how they will play, but the main tasks we have set in training have been on our own game, with our opponents taking a back seat. They defend well and can counter quickly. They cross early and are then dangerous in the penalty area. We haven’t actually decided our team yet – we will do that early tomorrow morning. We know their players well and remember how they played when they came to Germany. It’s important, though, that our focus stays on ourselves. It’s important to remember the quality we have, and no matter what happens, we know our opponents’ strengths, but the focus on ourselves is more important.
... the goal of the Iceland game: We want to put in a strong performance, that’s the main goal. We’ve finally played a good game for the first time in a long time, and we know that it can’t just be a one-game-wonder.
... expectations for the game: I think the last two games were very different in terms of the strategy. Against Armenia, we found a lot more room to play in compared to the Liechtenstein game, which was a bit like a handball game. We expect Iceland to be a strong team who can cause problems on the wings. We will have to find solutions to the problems they cause us on the pitch.
... his role in the team: My role is similar to previous years. I look to take on responsibility. That is only successful when you put in your best performances and constantly play at a high level, and when the rest of the team give you the security to do that. Off the pitch, I’m not afraid to give my opinion.
... the young players: You always find something to chat with them about, even if you’re very different – we’re all mature. At the end of the day, we all love football and it’s important for any player to find a coherent team with a framework to hold onto. I can only say good things about how they came into the last game and showed their class. We have to make it as easy as possible for them to gain experience.
... opponents Iceland: We are preparing for the game seriously, and trying to be as organised as possible when we’re on the ball.