It was Joachim Löw and Toni Kroos’ turn to take to the digital press conference on Wednesday, answering journalists’ questions ahead of tomorrow’s UEFA Nations League opener between Germany and Spain in Stuttgart (20:45 CEST).
...the season opener: All of the players and staff are delighted to be back. The lads have been full of motivation and focus, which is always good to see. There are certainly more important things right now you have to admit, particularly the coronavirus of course. The UEFA Nations League carries a lot of significance for us, but the EUROs are of course more important. The main focus is on next summer’s tournament, so it’s about using this time to prepare as best we can.
...team news: Robin Gosens will start – he had a good season in Italy and deserves his place. Kevin Trapp will start in goal against Spain, and we’re also planning to play Niklas Süle and Leroy Sané from the start. We will have to see how long they can go for. I certainly plan on making a few changes during the game. A number of players have already been training for several weeks, some have been playing in the Champions League and others have only just come back from holiday. I have to do what makes the most sense for each player.
...Thursday’s opponents Spain: Even though Spain have gone through something of a rebuild in recent years, they are still a top side. They don’t play the same football that they were playing at the height of their success; you don’t see that same combination play from back then anymore. They’re very good out wide though and have players who can score from anywhere. They also press very well and are dangerous on the counter. Everything is at a very high level.
...on Toni Kroos: He is a world-class footballer. He’s very intelligent on the pitch and works the space very well. He can always hold on to the ball no matter what pressure he’s under, he always makes himself an option and he can always make something happen. He is the focal point of our game. He takes on responsibility both on and off the pitch, and that makes him a very valuable player for us.
...fine details and fitness levels: We’ve already thought about those things a lot. We won’t be able to play with the same team in every game this year and we won’t be able to nail down the finer details until we have our training camp next year. When I consider the overall strain the players are under, particularly those who have played in the Champions League, I can’t expect them to play three games over 90 minutes in October and November. The most important thing is that they all get through the season injury-free and then arrive at the EUROs fully fit.
...the tactical approach against Spain: I’m leaning more towards a back-three. We can also play with four at the back and in varying formations. We could switch things up during the game though too with Kehrer and Süle. Everyone in the squad is certainly fit and ready to play.
...the game’s significance: The Nations League is an official competition, but the EUROs are of course of greater importance. Every game on the road to the European Championship can be crucial though, so we need to use them to prepare and we always want to win. There are a lot of familiar faces in the Spain team for me from club level, so it will certainly be a bit special for me.
...his move abroad: It helped me take the next step as a player. You’re very much in the spotlight at Real Madrid. When you make your mark under that kind of pressure, you can only develop further, both in a sporting sense and as a person.
...the strength in depth in midfield: Titles aren’t usually won or lost in midfield, but it’s important to control it. You have to be able to keep the ball and dominate the game there. We’re very well equipped in midfield, both in terms of quality and quantity.
...coronavirus measures: It might sound bad, but I’m actually used to it all now. We obviously hope that we can return to normal soon, especially in terms of bringing the fans back. I have a bad feeling that there will be a lot of injuries this season as the calendar is very full.
...the desire to win the EUROs: I think that winning the Champions League will help the Bayern players. You have to have that desire – that’s crucial and you can’t allow yourself to let up. I hope that we can take a lot of title winners with us to the EUROs next summer.
...Marco Reus: Marco has been out for a while and has already missed a few tournaments. But when he’s fit, his quality isn’t up for discussion. It’s just a question of his physical state.###more###