Joachim Löw is in the building, taking centre stage for the press conference. Just a few moments ago, his squad was announced to the press for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers in Hamburg against the Netherlands (6th September, 20:45 CEST) and in Belfast against Northern Ireland (9th September, 20:45 CEST). Luca Waldschmidt (SC Freiburg) has been given his first ever call-up, as well as returns to the squad for Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Marc-André ter Stegen (Barcelona) and Emre Can (Juventus).
Löw would now like to open the floor to any questions. He is accompanied by Jens Grittner, the spokesman for the national team. Everything is the same as always, apart from one slight detail: there are no journalists anywhere to be seen. It is the first ever digital press conference for the national team; newspapers and agencies from all over Germany will be connected to the head coach via BlueJeans video conferencing. The squad has been named, the technology is in place, the head coach has been seated – Joachim Löw is ready.
...the current national team situation: I’m looking forward to returning after my break in June. I’m itching to get back to work with the team and the players. It was very difficult for me to not be there for the international games for the first time; it was unusual. I almost felt like it was more nerve-racking to sit on the sofa at home than to be pitch-side at the stadium. I would also like to say that the team and the coaching staff have been fantastic. My thanks go out to Marcus Sorg, Andy Köpke, the coaching team, our scouts and Oliver Bierhoff. I really enjoyed watching the team in the games against Belarus and Estonia. We have made a great start to the qualifiers. It was very encouraging to have won away at the Netherlands, as well as the victories in the two following encounters. We now need to push on from this. The mood around the camp is really enthusiastic. The boys have a fantastic spirit, and a lot of the players have risen through the ranks of the youth system together. It’s clear to see that they are determined to be successful in the coming months and years. Our next two games will be decisive, as Northern Ireland are currently top of the table and the Netherlands are our main rivals.
...the importance of the 3-2 away win over the Netherlands: Of course, the game was a real confidence booster for our young team. Immediately after the game I could sense just how relieved the players were to have won this game, due to the manner of how the game played out. Most importantly, we learnt a lot from this game. We were solid in the first half, and our attack was extremely dangerous. In the second half we were shaky, and lost a bit of composure. We started to lose our chemistry, and our link-up play wasn’t as fluid. However we managed to get a clear idea of which areas we need to improve in. It was particularly pleasing to see that the team really tried to implement the style of play that we’ve been working on. It was great to see our hard work paying off, and to be rewarded for our efforts with a victory. Our new-look team is certainly off to a good start. They are strong, they are energetic, and they have a strong belief in themselves. These are all qualities of a successful team.
...Leroy Sané’s injury: Of course it’s very frustrating that Leroy will be out for such a long time. It’s a huge blow for us because, since the World Cup, Leroy has developed into a crucial player for our team. He can cause chaos among the opposition with his pace and unpredictability. I have kept in constant contact with him and have been informed by our doctors that his operation went very well. There were no complications at all, and his knee is now stable again. He will come back the same player as before, and will be able to reach his enormous potential. He will have to be out of action for half a year, and will then require a couple of weeks to complete his recovery, leaving him another 6 months before the tournament begins; he is certainly in my plans for the EUROs.
...the decision to call-up Luca Waldschmidt: This is his first time being with the national team and he thoroughly deserves the opportunity. Not only was he consistent throughout the Bundesliga last season, but he also took another step forward in his career at the European U21 Championships. It impressed me how well he played his role. He was a huge goal-threat and he’s a great finisher. He’s also effective at playing between the lines, and finding pockets of space. He’s still young and we’re very interested in monitoring his development. However there are a number of other players who also fall into this category.
...Emre Can’s return to the squad: I had a conversation with Emre towards the end of last season. After his transfer from Liverpool to Juve, he needed some time to adapt to the difference in the way the two clubs play. But throughout the course of the season, he was able to gradually pick up the pace. Back in May I told him that I would like to bring him back into the squad if he had a successful pre-season and managed to stay free of injury. He has certain qualities that we are lacking. He is very physical, he carries the ball really well and he already has lots of experience. At the Confed Cup he showed us how important he can be for us in the future, with his power and his bursting runs from midfield.
...Timo Werner’s contract extension: I was always aware of Timo’s intentions and I feel he has made the right decision. I know that Julian Nagelsmann sees him as a fantastic goal-scorer, with both his pace and quality. Timo can now concentrate solely on his football and has already scored in both of his first two games. Timo is a type of player that can be extremely important for us, with his eye for goal and his ability to get in behind the defence.
...Toni Kroos’ role: It’s great that we are blessed with so many players to choose from in the midfield. I’m glad that Kai Havertz has started the season well, and that Ilkay Gündogan put in solid performances in his last two international appearances. Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich could also potentially fill those positions. But of course, Toni Kroos is still in my plans. He is a leader. He has a lot of experience, which is important for young players so they have someone to lift their morale. Toni is still a fantastic player, and an important part of our side.
...Julian Brandt’s role and his transfer to Dortmund: I believe the move will be good for him. He is incredibly motivated, both on the pitch and in training. At Dortmund he has set himself the target of progressing far in the Champions League, and to contend for the title. That’s very important for Julian. He is a joy to watch; he is full of enthusiasm and he has the ability to bamboozle his opponents with his supreme quality in one on one situations. He played well in a number of games for us in 2017 and 2018 – it would be great if he could consistently perform at this level. He also has the potential to improve defensively and when we get put on the counter-attack. But, offensively, he is a player that can cause damage to any team. He has a very high ceiling.
...on the competition between Manuel Neuer and Marc-André ter Stegen: Manuel was out of action for a long time before the World Cup, and it was clear to me that there would be setbacks for him in the following season. In our most recent international games, he proved just how good he is. During the game in Amsterdam, he made two or three incredible saves to stop them from scoring. Marc ter Stegen is also coming off the back of a world class season, however we will go into the new few weeks with Manuel Neuer as our starting goalkeeper; he is our captain.
...Jonathan Tah’s chances of starting the game in Hamburg: After the injury to Toni Rüdiger, he certainly has a good chance. Jonathan has been a part of the squad since 2016. He captained the U21s in the summer and had a fantastic tournament and, despite his late return to pre-season, he has made a great start to the season. He’s quick, he’s physically strong and he’s improved a lot with the ball at his feet. I am very happy with his development.
...Fritz Keller, candidate for the president of the national team: I have known him for a number of years now but we aren’t as close as some people believe. We occasionally come across each other, and speak briefly about Freiburg and the national team. He’s a very down-to-earth, honest man. He’s a good people’s person and he handles himself very well – I have always enjoyed spending time with him. I believe that he will able to transfer this onto the national team – with him as president, the national team will be a great place to be. I believe he is a fantastic candidate and everyone involved with the coaching staff is looking forward to working with him.