Löw stated that he expects to start Khedira (left) and Kroos (right) in central midifeld against the Czech Republic.
Germany are set to play out their first two home qualification matches for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. After claiming victory over Norway in their first Group C game, Die Mannschaft will met the Czech Republic in Hamburg on Saturday, the game kicking off at 20:45 CEST. They will then move to Hannover for Tuesday’s match against Northern Ireland, which will also start at 20:45 CEST. Joachim Löw and Sami Khedira spoke to the press before the game, and DFB.de were on hand to take note of everything.
… THE RETURN OF ILKAY GÜNDOGAN: Ilkay had a long time out but he is putting that behind him. He has had a good start to life in Manchester, and he is a player who can always have a really positive influence on games. I hope that he can stay injury free in the months and years ahead. We really felt his absence in France and I am delighted that he is back. I think that he will be an important player for us.
… THE QUALITY IN MIDFIELD: In a two year period, players can always have problems with injuries. It is of course best for me when I have a lot of competition for players in every position. It is definitely possible that Gündogan and Khedira could play together, but against the Czech Republic it will be Khedira and Toni Kroos in midfield. During these games we will see what we need. I could see Ilkay starting against Northern Ireland but you have to keep every possibility in mind.
… GONZALO CASTRO: Castro has been playing very well for Dortmund of late. I think that in the last few months he has definitely become a better, much more dynamic and flexible player. He is playing at a good level but we have a lot of players for his position. His development has been very good. I do not rule out that he may be called up for the national team again in the future.
… THE ROLES OF JOSHUA KIMMICH AND THOMAS MÜLLER: Both play a number of different positions for Bayern. I think that we will play Kimmich at right back. He was excellent at the Euros. Kimmich and Müller both have a very good understanding of how to play their roles depending on the games. Kimmich can adapt to any position very quickly. Müller had a tough Euros but scored twice against Norway in our last game, and I think that he will keep scoring for us.
… LEROY SANÉ, JONATHAN TAH AND NIKLAS SÜLE: Bringing through as many young players as possible is our biggest aim, but it is a process that takes one or two years. There is an arrangement in place with U21 head coach Stefan Kuntz and sporting director Hansi Flick and we believe that it is possibly better for those players to play with the U21s as they will get to play the full 90 minutes and take on a higher level of responsibility. We will have a completely different situation in November when a few of the younger players could well be back in the senior team.
… THE SITUATION AHEAD OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC AND NORTHERN IRELAND: I expect us to come away with three points in both games. The team appear to be very fresh and concentrated. Czech Republic are probably the strongest opposition side in the group, but we are well prepared. The objective is clear: six points from the two games.
… THE EXTRA DAY OFF: We had a situation in which I felt that a few players needed more than a day’s break, so I decided against one day of training. I felt it necessary. The team will be well-prepared.
… THE CZECH REPUBLIC: The Czechs always have well-trained players. They can defend well and counter very quickly. I believe that the Czech Republic are the most challenging opposition in the group.
... THE FOUR INTERNATIONAL FIXTURES IN AUTUMN: After a good start against Norway, we now want to keep our winning run going. In the early stages of qualifying for EURO 2016, we were not at our best and were a bit sluggish, and we want to avoid that this time around. We are determined to get the win and put in a convincing performance out on the pitch.
... FIGHTING WITH GÜNDOGAN FOR HIS SPOT: Ilkay is an extremely important player for me – he has a lot of quality, he works very hard and he is a friend of mine. We have so much quality in the squad that any of us can play at any time.
... KIMMICH’S DEVELOPMENT: I am always absolutely delighted to see new young players coming through, as they can be a breath of fresh air. It is good for any team, and Joshua has had that effect on us. He is a fantastic lad, and a great player. He can be an example for many other youngsters to follow. I am especially happy for him because he has worked so hard for it and always puts the job first.
... THE TEAM’S STYLE OF PLAY: If you look at our development over the past five or six years, we have transformed our style of play from a more controlled, defensive approach to a more dominant, attacking game, with lots of possession. I like a good mix of both. We have to try and be a bit more flexible in how we play, although we have been gradually improving in the defensive areas. These are little things that only become apparent over time, as the season goes on.
... THE CZECH OPPONENTS: They obviously do not have some of the big names they used to have, but teams without superstars can be just as dangerous. The Czechs are renowned for their excellent academy structures, and we treat every opponent with respect. It will not be enough for us to play at 80 or 90 percent – we will have to push ourselves to the limit to beat them.
... THE EXTRA DAY OFF: It is a fine margin between recovery and hard work. Lots of people only understand the extremes, but it is really good to find a middle ground. We made good use of Wednesday and Thursday, and you have to be a bit sensible sometimes, too. If you play every two or three days, then at some point you will start to get tired and will not be on top of your game. Joachim Löw is a fine example of a modern coach who takes these things into account. You have to be mentally fresh as well so that your legs can handle the workload, and Löw has a perfect understanding of that balance.