During the German national team’s media day at their training camp in Eppan, South Tyrol, Tony Kroos has been answering questions from dozens of journalists. DFB.de was there to jot down his responses. Kroos discusses a possible title defence, rest periods, the competition in Russia and the feeling of euphoria.
Question: Herr Kroos, you’re the man who knows how to defend a title. How do you do it?
Toni Kroos: You keep winning. (laughs) However, it’s a completely different game in a club competition. At Real, we've been together for the last three years. At a World Cup, which only happens once every four years, it’s clearly more difficult. In a team, you have to cultivate some kind of spirit. We have a broad range of players in the national team. Whether we can develop this team-spirit as we did in 2014, where we were really really difficult to beat given we always had a goal in us, remains to be seen.
Q: The Germany squad is relatively similar to that in 2014 though?
Kroos: Similar? Back then we had Philipp, Miro and Basti (Lahm, Klose, Schweinsteiger), who were the pillars of the team. I think that we’re on a par with the 2014 team, if not even better. It all depends on whether we can generate this previously mentioned, team-spirit. We’re united on and off the pitch and we’re awkward to play against because we defend well. Recently, we've conceded too many goals and so we've worked on that a lot in training.
Q: What kind of impression has Manuel Neuer made?
Kroos: For me, he’s as good as he was before his injury. Sure, he was out for a long time, an extremely long time. I don’t know how long a goalkeeper needs to get back to his prime. My longest injury had me out for two months. So in any case, I can say that I didn't notice any difference in performance when I came back. It’s great he’s back. I'm happy for him and for us as a team.
Q: In South Africa in 2010, you played in your first World Cup. In your opinion, how has national team coach, Joachim Löw developed since then?
Kroos: Since 2010, something about his elocution has changed from that of a very good coach to a world-class coach. Our game, the idea on which it’s based, it’s all developed a lot since 2010. In team meetings, he gives us important advice about prospective opponents. As a result, we've made a good step forward.
Q: Löw praises the way you always remain calm and collected. You never seem nervous before a game, whether that be a group match or the World Cup final.
Kroos: I can’t deny it. (laughs) I suppose it’s an inherent character trait. The success I've achieved in the past composes me. I'm confident in my ability and of demonstrating that ability in any game. That’s what gives me such self-control. And then I always say to myself, it’s only a game of football.
Q: What’s the competition like in comparison to 2014?
Kroos: Almost all the top nations are definitely better than 2014. France are better, Spain are better, Brazil are a different league to their last team. But that doesn't interest me at all. We should go into the tournament with a sense of humility. We are focusing on the group to begin with. In my opinion, we have a difficult task against Mexico in the opening game.
Q: And the German team, are they better than in 2014?
Kroos: We will be very good on the ball and without a doubt, difficult to play against. So we can beat any team.
Q: How inspired are you to defend your crown as World Champions?
Kroos: Of course a World Cup in itself is a massive motivation, otherwise I wouldn't play in them any more. Naturally after winning the Champions League you need a few days. We ended the club season with an incredible piece of success. It’s not normal to finish one competition and then have to set off to another so quickly. Sometimes it’s not particularly easy to do so. Sometimes you feel happy straight away to be playing with the lads again. I just always get a kick out of preparing for a tournament with Germany.
Q: After the defeat to Brazil in Berlin, you gave the team some very strong words. Did it make an impact?
Kroos: I've been here for four days now and I think we've been training well. Back then in Berlin, I felt like some players didn't give enough. That’s just my personal opinion. Against Brazil in front of 80,000 people, you should give it your all, and I didn't think that was the case for everyone in the team.
Q: A year ago, Germany enjoyed the euphoria of winning the Confederations Cup thanks to a long list of young talent. Now people believe that the World Champions should deliver. How do you see it?
Kroos: Of course we need a spine of world-class players, who have already played in a big tournament. Then there are a lot of players, who have come into the squad after winning the 2017 Confederations Cup. Anyone who brings the right ability and attitude with them, is warmly welcomed into the team.