On Friday, the previous two World Cup winners go head to head in Düsseldorf’s Esprit-Arena with the visit of 2010 champions Spain. The following Tuesday, Germany travel to Berlin to face five-times World Cup winners Brazil. These will be an important couple of weeks for Joachim Löw, who will name his provisional squad for the World Cup in Russia on the 15th May. This was discussed at Thursday’s press conference in Düsseldorf along with several other topics: DFB.de wrote down the important quotes from Germany head coach Löw.
If a player isn’t involved in any of the pre-tournament games, it’s hard to name him in the final squad. When Manuel was here on Tuesday, we sat down and talked with Andy Köpke and Dr. Müller-Wohlfarth for a while – Manuel is right on track. He’s set to play for Bayern again this season and the doctor has assured me that his scar is fine and his bones are growing back together as planned. At the moment he’s not able to train properly – he’s at around 90 percent and plans to be back to 100 by the end of the week so that he can start participating fully. Then he’ll be able to use a few training sessions to make sure he’s ready to play again. I am very confident Manuel Neuer will be in our World Cup squad.
Marc ter Stegen will play the first game. Aside from that the teams won’t be identical in both games – I would like to change things for the second game. It’s difficult to say who will be playing against Spain after just one training session; we’ll start planning tonight, but there are five or six players who I can say will definitely be starting tomorrow: Jerome, Mats, Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil and Toni Kroos will be the foundation of the team and we’ll have to see who joins them in the starting XI. Emre Can will not be playing tomorrow – he was having some back problems at Liverpool and it’s not quite right yet. He tried to participate in yesterday’s training session but had to cut it short. We decided today that he’ll train individually for the time being so that he can hopefully train with the team again on Saturday and then play in the friendly against Brazil. Sebastian Rudy is keeping me updated – he’s with his wife, who is heavily pregnant and could go into labour today. He wouldn’t have been in the right mindset to put in a good performance.
He’s made extremely good progress. His first international caps were so-so, but in the last few years he’s been very, very good. He was outstanding at the Confed Cup and he’s matured at Barcelona. This is a goalkeeper with great composure and focus. He’s become a personality in the team that we all hold in high regard. You can see how focused he is on his performances.
Mario Gomez is in great form, as is Sandro Wagner of course. They both have confidence and I’ll make sure both get the chance to play in our games.
I spoke to Mario Götze and we agreed that he’s not quite reached the form we would like to see. He is very eager to learn and very ambitious so he is by no means written off. I wouldn’t have chosen Marco Reus anyway – he’s been injured for a long time and staying fit is the most important thing for him. It’s important for him to complete the next few weeks and find his rhythm again. André Schürrle has improved of late and we know what he is capable of. If he brings back his pace and goal threat then he’ll continue to be an option for the World Cup.
Both teams want to show what they can do, but at the same time they won’t reveal everything about their game to the other team. This game is not a rehearsal of a potential game against Spain at the World Cup: The tournament will write its own stories. We know that Spain are a top side, including lots of players from Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Barcelona. The national team merges the quality of these clubs – Spain are one of the absolute favourites in my opinion. No one should write them off.
This is our last chance to train and play together before the squad is named in mid-May, before the training camp in South Tyrol and, of course, before the World Cup itself. The players all still have a very important couple of months ahead of them with their respective clubs, and after that we’ll run out of time quickly, so it’s good that we can play against two top teams like Spain and Brazil now.
The squad nomination is a little while off yet. My experiences have shown that players can get injured in this time – which we obviously hope won’t happen, then we’ll put our heads together shortly before the end of the season and ask ourselves what the club performances have been like, how they played for the national team and whether they’re fit and healthy. Performances are the most important thing to consider, but being a team player, tolerance and empathy also play an important role in putting a squad together. We have to make our decisions based on positions as well, however, and ensure that we have enough back-up. On top of this, my gut-instinct and intuition play an important role.
The first two days were more about talking things through and marketing activity. The first training session was on Wednesday and my fellow coaches and I will definitely be watching closely over the next few weeks to see who impresses. We’ll see who is in a position to perform at the top of their game this summer after a tiring season. That’s what I expect from the players as well. The World Cup is the biggest tournament there is – the players need to be able to focus on this in every game, every training session, not just with the national team, but at their clubs as well. We need 23 players who can perform at the highest level this summer – I need players who will give everything for the team, even if they have to sit on the bench at some point. We had the right team spirit in 2014, we know that the tournament will push us beyond our limits. We are the World Cup holders, Confed Cup winners – we are the team to beat, so these two friendlies have come at the right time. I will experiment with a few things to get a look at some new players, which is all important for the squad selection.
We need to take another step as a team if we want to be successful. We need to play even better than at the 2014 World Cup. It’s not easy to defend the World Cup title – anything can happen at the tournament. We need players who have reached the top of their game and we need to hope none of the important players get injured. We need to stay calm in important situations. Since we’re now the team to beat, our performances need to go above and beyond those in 2014.