After a positive COVID case in the Germany Men’s national team squad, the team’s focus is completely centred on the upcoming World Cup qualifying matches. Ahead of tomorrow’s game against Liechtenstein in Wolfsburg (20:45 CET), head coach Hansi Flick and midfielder Thomas Müller spoke about this current focus. DFB.de brings you the key remarks from the pair during the press conference.
... the personnel situation: We’ve called up several players because some of the lads have had to leave us for various reasons, which, of course, we weren’t expecting. Julian Draxler was training very, very well and I’ve been in close contact with his club head coach, who also sees a lot in him. However, he has suffered a muscle injury and will be out for some time, and I do feel sorry for him. But in Jonathan Tah we have a player who is coming on well at Leverkusen, and Ridle Baku has been with us in recent times. We always keep an eye on Maximilian Arnold and Kevin Volland travelled to join up with us last night: we won’t be calling up any more players.
... the team’s mindset going into the Liechtenstein game: It’s been very positive, on the whole. We’ve trained well, and have our final session today. We’ve not had much time to really go into depth about certain aspects of our game, but we’re looking forward to the fixture and to Joachim Löw’s farewell. It will be a special game for any player who played under Jogi with the national team, and it’ll be special for me too. If he hadn’t had called me, my life would be completely different to how it is now. We need to show our gratitude on Thursday.
... upcoming opponents Liechtenstein: They put up a real fight against us in St. Gallen, and they’ll be looking to pull off a shock in this game. Our aim is to do the things which we were not so good at last time out better – by that I mean play with more tempo, more initiative, more intensity, occupy the spaces better and believe in ourselves more in the challenge. I’m expecting us to be clinical in front of goal and that we take our chances as soon as possible. I’m feeling very positive about the game following yesterday’s training session. We have a clear goal: to put in a good performance in front of a full house in Wolfsburg.
... the team’s aims for the final matches of the year: We want two successful results and competent performances. Ideally, we’ll finish with 27 points. Of course, our team has plenty of quality. Everyone who is here now was on our initial shortlist, and now some players have the chance to raise a few eyebrows, that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking forward to the chance to see a few of the lads in action.
... strikers in the squad: We’ve got a few alternatives. Jonathan Burkhardt is coming on heaps and bounds, and Lukas Nmecha proved yesterday why he deserves to be here. We’ll have to see whether he’ll start the game at his home ground or not. I rate Volland as a player too: he’s got real quality and is in good form at Monaco. Unfortunately, Timo Werner is unable to be here, and Adeyemi has had to leave the group. But the players we’ve got here are all top-quality, and we want to see a strong performance from them.
... Joachim Löw’s farewell: I’m looking forward to seeing him. I’m very thankful for what he’s done for me – his phone call changed my life. He’s an extraordinary man who never passed the buck on to anyone, which is a real quality of his.
... the positive COVID cases and some players leaving the camp: We’re responsible to ensure that we all stay healthy, but no one is forced to get vaccinated. We mustn’t judge those who haven’t been vaccinated because they have concerns about it. But my viewpoint is that we should all get the jab so we can come out the other side of this pandemic. We’re all role models and so have an even greater responsibility to set an example. I want all of my players to be vaccinated, but at the end of the day it’s their decision. I hope things change so that we don’t have another incident where we have to send five players home. We need to see how we can best protect ourselves. The atmosphere within the group is OK, but the recent events have caused a bit of unrest. But we’ll carry on, and our goal is to deliver a good performance and result tomorrow.
... preparations for the World Cup in Qatar: We’re going to fly to Qatar just before Christmas to have a look around the place.
...the Liechtenstein game: I expect us to perform well, get forward with dynamism and to play how we want to. It won’t be that easy. I want us to do things that make sense for us. The issue in the reverse fixture was that we didn’t take our first couple of chances and then it becomes a psychological thing. Liechtenstein defended really, really well. You have to be disciplined to be able to do that and they’ll show that again tomorrow. I hope that we’re more clinical in front of goal, but I can’t promise a goal fest. I always want to score as many goals as possible, however the most important thing is that we win the game. We’ve got more quality than our opponents. We have to take the game seriously and play as a team.
...the current squad: We’ve got a formidable squad here. Players will always be missing – you just have to deal with that. I follow the philosophy that our former coach and Oliver Bierhoff installed in us back in 2014: those who deal with the conditions and issues the best will become World Cup winners. That’s how you need to deal with changes in day-to-day business too. It’s a challenge and it’s a fun one to face. Looking at who we’ve been able to call up as replacements shows how much quality we have in German football.
...Joachim Löw’s departure: I’m looking forward to seeing him. A lot of my 108 caps came under Löw and we’ve got a lot of memories together – not just from sporting moments. That includes all the time spent together off the pitch. We always really got on and had a lot of fun together. That was the nicest thing, excluding the sporting highlights. We’ll always have this relationship.
...Lukas Nmecha: Lukas Nmecha is close to having it all. I hope he can continue his good run – he’s looked good in training. He’s definitely someone who likes that position and being in the box. He’s hungry for goals.
...his attitude: My personal aim is to be the best possible footballer I can be 365 days a year. I always want to be working on my game and the team’s game – that means working on both strengths and weaknesses. If you’re pro-active about things, you can add a couple of percent to your performances.
...the positive Corona test and several players leaving camp: There’s no problem with the mood in camp, we’re all professionals. It doesn’t need to be overdramatised. The whole of society is affected.