Preparations for the European Championships are in full swing. Mats Hummels and goalkeeping coach Andreas Köpke took the time to speak to the media from training camp in Seefeld.
...his feelings on his return: It was nice to see so many familiar faces again. I was a bit nervous travelling here, more than I have been in the past. There was this feeling of excitement. Overall, it was a really good day, one that I had eagerly been looking forward to.
...the time away from the team: Thomas Müller called it a personal loss yesterday. It definitely felt like that. It really hurt, I can’t lie. It was one of my personal goals to work my way back into the team. Also because it’s an honour to play for Germany. For us, it’s a nice recognition of the hard work that we’ve put in.
...fitting in again: There weren’t any issues. There was just the notion that it was time for other players to prove themselves. Over the course of the last six month, there were several calls and messages. Things became clearer about two weeks before the squad was announced. The head coach told me that I have a lot to offer the team for a tournament like this. That immediately made me want to be here.
...the two friendlies: It will be extremely important to not go into them thinking they will be like a training session. We need to play the way we want to play at the EUROs. Our friendlies ahead of the 2018 World Cup weren’t that convincing. We want to bring the same intensity and quality to the pitch right from the start against Denmark, as we will do at the EUROs.
...defending set pieces: This will depend on the players you have. My strengths are more in zonal defending. You can also adjust yourself based on your opponents. In the end, a combination of zonal defence and man-marking is the best solution.
...Antonio Rüdiger: We have several good centre-backs, and have a lot of great options in this position. Antonio Rüdiger has proven that he is an incredible centre-back. Whenever I watched Chelsea play, he always stood out. It’s easy to work together with a player like that.
...his role: I want to fully bring in what I have to offer, both as a player and as a person, to the best of my abilities. I want to take on this role as a leader, one who pushes themselves even harder when things aren’t going well, instead of hiding. Overcoming setbacks is part of playing in a tournament.
...breaks in the hierarchy: I don’t think that will happen. It’s a topic that’s being fueled from the outside. Thomas and I are here as additional support. We don’t want to take any position away from anyone. That’s not an issue, because we all want to win.
...the level of the team: If we’re able to bring our quality to the pitch, then we will be able to make it out of the group. Things always look different from the outside, when you’re not part of what’s happening. Our sessions so far have been good and the quality has been high. We have good players who really want to win. I’m confident that we will be able to bring this level to the pitch more often.
...Kevin Volland: Volland is another kind of player that we have in our ranks. He’s very powerful and strong with his back to the ball. He has certain strengths that others don’t. He knows exactly what he can do to help a team. He’s also a very positive, solid guy.
...the first few days of training camp: The first few days were very intense. We needed to do something because the lads had several more days off in order to recover. Today, we focused on set pieces in training. The mood in camp is high, even if not all the players are here yet. The conditions are excellent. For us, the EUROs have already begun in a sense. We don’t have time to slowly find our footing during the tournament. We know what to expect right from our first game. We are highly focused.
...the goalkeeping situation: Manuel Neuer will definitely play against Denmark. We haven’t made any decisions yet for the game against Latvia. We’re taking it day by day. We also aren’t letting ourselves be put under pressure. After training camp, we will make a decision on who will be the back up. Kevin Trapp and Bernd Leno are both at a similar level and are both coming off strong seasons. However, it’s still too bad that Marc-André ter Stegen isn’t able to be here.
...Manuel Neuer: At 35, Manu trains differently than when he was younger. Now, it’s more about explosiveness and movement. When you get to a certain age where you know your body well, then you know what you need to focus on. That allows you to continue playing at a high level. I can feel the excitement he has in every training session and every game. He also wants to make up for what happened in Russia. I’m looking forward to the EUROs and to being able to show what we’re capable of.
...Neuer’s 100th cap approaching: It makes me extremely proud that he’s close to making his 100th appearance for Germany. Also because we’ve been working together for all 100 of those games. That’s definitely something special! He’s a great guy and will definitely add a few more games to his tally.
...the possibility of a future under Hansi Flick: We’ve spoken on the phone two or three times. We will make a decision after the EUROs. For me, that’s a way off still. Right now, I’m focused on the EUROs and am pretty relaxed.
...Bielefeld’s Stefan Ortega as a back-up: He’s coming off a great season and is a good player. It also sends a strong message that you don’t need to play for a top club in order to make it to the national team. We think that he fits in well with our philosophy, which is why we’ve put him on call. We’re able to call up a goalkeeper in the event of an injury or positive COVID-19 case. He should make sure to keep his fitness levels up during his holiday. If we need him, then he will join us in training.
...the players from England: The majority will be coming here with plenty of confidence. We will need to do the same for Ilkay Gündogan. The plan is for them to join us on Thursday. Then, we will finally have our squad together and can focus on the details ahead of the EUROs. The key will be for us to grow close as a team.
...the goalkeepers: The relationship between them is good, and they all get along. They go get coffee together, but they also push each other. Overall, it’s a good atmosphere. We’ve experienced the opposite before as well.
...issues with adequate replacements: I don’t think that there’s much that’s gone wrong. Leno, Trapp and ter Stegen were also competing for spots at the youth level. Now, the problem is that goalkeepers in the Bundesliga simply aren’t playing enough. We need to make sure that they get enough playing time, so that I don’t have to worry.