Less than 24 hours before Germany’s final World Cup group game against South Korea on Wednesday (KO 16:00 CEST), the reigning World champions’ preparations are running at full speed, even if a violent storm forced the final training session before the match to be moved. Joachim Löw’s full focus is on the match in Kazan. The head coach spoke about line-up possibilities, the situation in Group F and gave updates on the squad.
...the squad: We have 18 outfield players available for tomorrow. Sebastian Rudy won’t be able to play – the game comes two or three days too early. It makes no sense even with a mask. He’s broken his nose in several places and was put under general anaesthetic. Jerome Boateng will be serving his ban. All our other players are 100% ready to play, including Mats Hummels, who has absolutely no problems anymore and is ready to play.
...Mesut Özil and the other reserves: Mesut impressed hugely in training after the Sweden game, as did Sami Khedira. We also have the options of the other players who haven’t come on yet.
...Thomas Müller: I had a long conversation with Thomas after the Mexico game. We analysed the game using video clips. He’s a very receptive player and he’s very self-critical of his performances. Anyone who knows Thomas knows that he always has a very positive outlook and is always looking to improve. He’s a really important player for us.
...the situation in Group F: I’m not one to go through all the possible scenarios. Of course I’ll be kept up-to-date about the score in the game between Mexico and Sweden so that I can react if need be. But we have to make sure we win our own game – by two goals if possible. It depends on our own performance and we have to do all we can to make use of our strengths.
...vulnerability to counterattacks: We’ve talked about it multiple times. It’s not just down to the defence. We were much better in the transitional plays against Sweden than we were against Mexico. We weren’t always successful, but it was much, much better. We have to keep working on it.
...South Korea: South Korea have strong counterattacking players. That’s something they love to do. They try to adjust to their opponents in defence. They will play aggressively – earlier than Sweden did. They’ll want to win the ball in midfield and they have two or three players who are really strong on the counter; we have to prevent that and we can’t give up possession easily. We won’t be marking Son man-on-man because he’ll take all the freedom his coach allows him. He makes fast runs in behind the defence so our defence has to be alert. We have to make sure we don’t give the ball away – that will be very important for us.
...the feeling within the team after the Sweden game: The mood wasn’t great after the Mexico game. Everyone knew the situation we were in and the pressure was on. After the Sweden game, it was pure joy, a big relief because it would’ve been very hard to go through had we only come away with a point. On the other hand, the team didn’t get carried away because preparations were to carry on the next day. The team knew it was a small step in the direction of the knockout stages and that we have to win against South Korea. I think we will be more focused against South Korea. You can’t spend too much time enjoying the moments at a tournament like this. Whether we take the euphoria with us into the game remains to be seen. The most important thing is that we maintain our focus.
...the starting XI: I’ve seen in training how much the players want to win the match against South Korea. It will depend on many things, including how they perform in training, current form and the games against Mexico and Sweden. I know the qualities of each and every player and I look at what he can do for our team and what value he can add. What types of player are useful against this opponent? There are various criteria which will decide how the team is set up.
...the heat in Kazan: The physios will be very important for us. In 30-degree heat, it’s clear that it’ll be a factor. But we’ve proven in both games that we can play at pace even when it’s hot. I think that the team won’t have any problems with the heat against South Korea.