Germany have begun their preparations for EURO 2020 at Seefeld in Austria. National team coach Joachim Löw and captain Manuel Neuer spoke to the press on Saturday.
…the aims for the training camp: The players arrived highly motivated yesterday and excited for what’s to come. A tournament begins with the first day of training. From today, we are fully focused on EURO 2020. It’s important that the team develops a winning mentality. That is a key part of a successful team, alongside a good team spirit.
…midfield worries: I hope that we won’t lose the core of our midfield. Leon Goretzka is still at home training individually and will arrive here on Tuesday. We’ll have to take it day by day with him. We’ll also have to see how Ilkay is when he arrives. We’re waiting for a green light for Toni Kroos. He tested positive again yesterday and he will have to remain in quarantine as long as he is still positive. As soon as he tests negative, he can travel to meet up with us. He had mild symptoms, although only last week. I hope that they can all start training with the team soon, as they are three key players for us.
…the value of friendlies: The full squad is not here yet. We definitely won’t have every player available for the Denmark game, so there will be different formations in the two games. We have things that we want to study and work on. During this time, we have to fine tune aspects of our game. Every player must know what they need to do, so we can go as far as possible in the tournament. We want to see progress made in training and in the Denmark game. The team need to grow together and pick up some match experience. Our tactics won’t change for the two matches, whereas our line-up will.
…the aforementioned winning mentality: We’ve had a lot of changes to our team in the last few years for several reasons, which makes it important that we’ve got the majority of the group here with us now. I expect a high intensity from the first training session and the lads to be fully focused. We need players in a tournament who lead the way and also players that are patient but still ready. Experience from previous tournaments is proof of that. That’s what you need for a winning mentality, which needs developing. We need this from day one.
…tactics: Our work from set pieces recently definitely needs improving and will be something we work on. The balance between attack and defence needs to be spot on in a tournament. We have created lots of chances, but you need to take them. We need to work on our compactness at the back and be better in challenges. Those are the basics and we have to improve on them.
…who will be number two behind Manuel Neuer: We haven’t made a decision yet. Andy Köpke is close with the goalkeepers, but we’ll give ourselves a little bit more time. I had the feeling from day one that Manuel Neuer would be a really great goalkeeper. You could see that from his presence during his first few games with us. He’s gone on to prove me right, even in 2018, when he went into the tournament on the back of some problems. I feel like he’s getting better and better still. There’s not much that needs saying about his character. He’s honest, a good communicator and has a positive attitude. He has lots of respect for others and has values too.
...the return of Mats Hummels and Thomas Müller: It’s like they were never away. Neither of them have found it hard getting started again. After all, they were involved for a long time and helped shaped the national team. I have the feeling that both of them feel really happy. They are both people who like to have a say at their clubs and that’s what we want from them here as well. However, there is a process involved. They will both play an important role – their experience and ability can definitely improve the team. I haven’t guaranteed them a place in the side – in a tournament, you have to decide what’s best for the team.
…competition for places: You generally always want competition for places. That’s what we want to achieve here. The situation can change incredibly quickly, so we need to prepare all the players for potentially playing in the tournament at any stage. You will not keep the same team for every single game. All players need to be at a certain level and need to be ready.
…corona restrictions: Being able to go home for a couple of days after the training camp always did us good. The players always enjoyed being able to spend some time with their families. Obviously, we can’t do that this time. We will try and do some different activities when we’re not training. We can’t predict how bored and down people may become. It can depend on our success and the individuals themselves. Personal interests aren’t the most important thing, the team is.
…his expectations: I’m really pleased that things are finally underway. It all began for us yesterday. I was excited for the first training session with the national team for the first time in a short while. Our full focus is now on the tournament. We want to enjoy it both and off the pitch – you have more success when you are more positive. On the pitch, though, you still need to be completely focused – that’s really important.
…his aims: I think we’ve got a good squad and we can achieve a lot. As players, we need to give our all for our country and put things right from 2018. We will need the support of the fans and I’m sure we’ll get it. We’ve effectively got finals in the group stage, so we can’t waste any time. We’ve got high hopes for the tournament.
…coming up to 100 caps: Playing so many internationals isn’t that easy as a goalkeeper. It’s an achievement that makes me really proud. I’ve been getting close to 100 caps for a while now, but then I had that long injury break.
…incoming national team coach Hansi Flick and his own future: Everyone knows that I have a good relationship with him and we have enjoyed many successful periods together. It’s a good decision to appoint him from the DFB. Nevertheless, right now we have an important tournament ahead of us and we want to focus on that. With the current coaching set-up, we have the right team in the right position. We have a lot to thank Joachim Löw for and we all want to give him a good send-off. I always have a lot of fun and enjoy playing for the national team. As long as my body is able to carry on, I’ll keep playing for Germany. I'm fit and able to perform at this level, and I have no plans to end my international career yet. I also wouldn’t make it dependent on whoever is the coach.
…a big FC Bayern presence in the team: Hopefully it’s something that will have a positive effect. We have had a very successful period together in recent times. Of course, we’ll do our best to work as well as we usually do on the pitch. But it’s all about having a positive mix of players in the national team. We need every player, no matter what team he plays for.
…the warm-up matches for EURO 2020: These matches are crucial for us. We have to take all the training sessions very seriously. The impression that we make on the coach is very important. Every single player can play a decisive role in how the tournament will end up going. A competition can go on for a long time and you might find yourself relying on someone who you might not have played with so much. Because of this, it’s even more important that we don’t treat these warm-up matches as friendlies and give our all as a team.