Ahead of the games against Russia and the Netherlands, Germany head coach Joachim Löw spoke to DFB.de about the current squad and EURO 2020.
DFB.de: There was a lot of criticism following the defeat to the Netherlands in October. The team then also lost to the world champions, France. You said that it wasn’t about the results, rather about being pleased with the team, who were quicker, more courageous and fresher than before. What did you get from the games, and how did this influence the current squad?
Joachim Löw: You have to look at the bigger picture and include September too, after the World Cup was so disappointing for us. I’ve had discussions with a lot of players. They were saying that they know they can do better and they want to show that. That was a good sign for me, and I don’t want to just drop players who have played at the highest level for years and brought us a lot of joy and success. Not in September anyway, as we started our new campaign against the world champions straightaway. I saw a chance there. The team showed promise and carried out a lot of what we wanted to see. However, after the game against the Netherlands, it was clear that we needed to make further changes. The team needed something more, that I had to introduce.
DFB.de: With the introduction of Kehrer, Gnabry, Werner, Süle, Kimmich and Sane in Paris, there were six players in the starting XI who were 23 and younger. Is there finally fresh blood coming into the team?
Löw: When developing a team, you can’t just push a button and change all the players from one day to the next. The young players in particular need to get to grips with everything, in terms of the basics as well as personnel. They also need a certain level of maturity. The mix of experience and fearlessness has to be right. We started a process in Paris that we want to continue with. It’s also important that we create room for the younger players. They both should and must take on more responsibility, but they already know that. We saw that in Paris, the players who were on the pitch showed it. The team gave off a good feeling and we want to keep that going.
DFB.de: What are your thoughts on the potential relegation in the Nations League?
Löw: Obviously we want to do all we can to stay in League A, but it’s not in our hands anymore. We’re looking at more than just the Nations League. EURO 2020 is our next main aim. Until then, we want to have a powerful team on the pitch once again. To this end, the qualifying games for EURO 2020 are obviously important for us, whether we’re playing in League A or League B. I’m quite sure that they’ll be a lot of changes before 2020, but they’ll be well-planned and we won’t do anything hasty. There’s no reason to do that. We’ll find the right solutions and answers. The squad is always a snapshot between big tournaments; it’s not set in stone. Not everyone who is playing currently will be on the pitch at EURO 2020 in two years’ time.
DFB.de: Marco Reus and Thomas Müller are two experienced players who are currently in the squad, but they’re in different form at the moment. What do you think of the pair?
Löw: I’m glad that Marco’s finally hit a rich vein of form for Borussia Dortmund once again, of course. He can also help the national side when he’s in this form, that’s what I’m anticipating from him. I hope that he can carry on playing like he is. Thomas Müller has been around for a while and knows how to deal with difficult situations. He’s always energetic and he identifies incredibly with and does a lot for the team. That’s why he’s in the squad. However, he’s also got to compete for his place, and he knows that.
DFB.de: Marc-André ter Stegen and Jérôme Boateng aren’t in the squad. What are the reasons behind that?
Löw: Marc has been in good form for weeks at FC Barcelona, but he’s had shoulder problems for some time. He discussed sorting them out with Andy Köpke during this international break. He needs a few days without doing anything; it’s a long season. I’ve spoken with Jérôme Boateng. I’m convinced that a break will do him good at the moment. I told him that we’ve got a lot of alternatives for his position, especially with younger players. They have to prove that they can perform at the same level of Jérôme first, though.
DFB.de: Toni Kroos will only be involved with the team against the Netherlands, and not Russia. Why is that?
Löw: I had several conversations with Toni after the World Cup and I know of course that he’s been under an incredible strain for years. Toni is highly-professional and would have no doubt made himself available for both games. He said that to me on the phone, but a couple of days to recover will do him good. For me, it’s important that he’ll be fit and ready to go against the Netherlands.
DFB.de: How are you expecting the team to finish the year against Russia and the Netherlands?
Löw: Obviously I’m hoping that we can sign off well with two games in front of our fans after a difficult year. It’s good that we’re playing both games in front of our own fans. We want to show the enthusiasm that we’ve been showing for years. We have to play well, especially against the Netherlands.###more###