On Thursday evening it’s crunch time: at 21:00 CEST Die Mannschaft will face hosts France in the semi-final of the European championship. On Wednesday morning they completed their final training session in Évian before leaving the base camp and setting sail for Marseille, where the penultimate game of the tournament will be taking place.
The aim is clear: the world champions are going for their fourth European championship title. Standing between them and a place in the final is no easy obstacle: head coach Didier Deschamps’s France. In today’s press conference, Joachim Löw and Toni Kroos spoke about the situation regarding personnel, Germany’s status as the favourites and the excitement within the team.
… THE STARTING XI TO FACE FRANCE: Bastian Schweinsteiger will definitely be starting. He’s physically prepared and has the strength to play from the start. In a game like tomorrow’s, his kind of experience is of great importance. He was able to take part in all of the exercise during this morning’s training session without raising any concerns. He has fully recovered from his injury. There are no more doubts in my mind regarding the starting XI, I’ve got it in my head.
… THE ABSENCE OF GOMEZ, HUMMELS AND KHEDIRA: It’s not easy for us to replace these three players. That’s why Bastian with his experience is important. He made a good impression against Italy and got properly stuck into the game. We will try to compromise with the absentees. I trust the players who will start and those who may come on.
… THE OPPOSITION: France have a very flexible team - forceful on the attack. They have, I think, the best chance-conversion rate in the tournament so far, and I predict they will attack us with everything they have tomorrow. This means we’ll have to be strong as a unit, we need to be compact, keep things tight. It will be difficult for us if France start to open up the spaces.
… POTENTIAL FRENCH WEAKNESSES: Every team has problems with their game, there’s no such thing as the perfect team. They dominated Iceland, and still showed signs of weakness which we want to exploit properly tomorrow. I won’t speak publicly about this though - perhaps we can surprise France a little.
… BEING THE FAVOURITES: We’re the toughest team France has had to face in the tournament so far and we will give everything to reach the final. But France are better, in my opinion, than they were in 2014. It will be a very interesting encounter with more chances than in our game against Italy. We’re not the favourites, because we’re playing against an entire country. There are no favourites, it doesn’t matter anyway. Both teams have their strengths.
… THE KEY TO VICTORY IN THE SEMI-FINAL: It will be a question of desire. The motivation on both sides will be as high as ever. The desire is there. Our players will give everything they have.
… SIMILARITES TO THE 7-1 WIN OVER BRAZIL IN THE WORLD CUP 2014 SEMI-FINAL: We can’t take too much from that game. We are used to playing under that sort of pressure. But it won’t be a repeat. There’s not going to be a semi-final like that every two years. Besides, I think France are much more solid than Brazil were two years ago.
… THE SEMI-FINAL AGAINST THE TOURNAMENT HOSTS: It’s something special. So far I’ve always had the feeling that the Germany fans have outnumbered the opposition supporters inside the ground. That certainly won’t be the case tomorrow.
… RESPECT FOR FRANCE: We have huge respect for France. They’ve improved as the tournament has gone on and they have some incredible individuals. A very, very strong opposition awaits us.
… POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF THE LONG GAME AGAINST ITALY: It was a tense game, a difficult game, but both teams are fit, and I won’t be using the Italy game as an excuse if we don’t make the final.
… HIS ROLE AS POSSIBLE PENALTY TAKER: We haven’t delegated roles yet. But I won’t shy away. If it’s not going well for our usual takers at the moment, I’ll happily step up.
… MANAGER JOACHIM LÖW’S WORK: At this stage in the tournament it’s obviously important how a coach works. He always finds the right way to talk to us. He’s got us motivated for tomorrow. He’s got a lot of experience. Us going so far in recent tournaments is largely down to him.