Joachim Löw has named his Germany squad for the final three international games of the year, with the head coach placing his trust in a large group of players including two debutants, Philipp Max and Felix Uduokhai. Löw spoke to DFB.de about the players’ workload, his expectations for the new players in the squad and his aims for the upcoming matches.
DFB.de: Mr. Löw, the final international fixtures of a difficult year are now right around the corner. How are you feeling about the next few days?
Joachim Löw: There’s plenty to keep me occupied right now. On the one hand, I am really looking forward to these games because we still have the chance to end this difficult year on a high with some good, successful matches. We can also gain experience, which is so important for the development of a team. At the same time, I am just thankful that these international games are able to go ahead at all under these circumstances, when people have bigger things to worry about than football.
DFB.de: You are planning to use a large squad in November, as you did back in October. There was criticism of that last time, as the squad supposedly didn’t contain the country’s best players. What do you say to the critics?
Löw: I can understand the criticism, but I have to make decisions and I always do that based on my own conviction. That doesn’t mean that I am immune to criticism. Ultimately though, I am the one who has to take on the responsibility as head coach. What benefits each individual player right now? Where is he at? Does he need a break? Is he tough enough? What do I have to consider, looking at the development of the team? Who do we want to watch in person? An example of that is the two players from Mönchengladbach, Jonas Hofmann and Florian Neuhaus. They really impressed us in October. That alone is already a nice discovery. If we find a player here and there who could be an option for a major tournament, that’s a win from our point of view. Our plans don’t end with the Nations League – there are also some real highlights coming up later in the calendar. For the Euros, we need players who are fresh and hungry for success after a long season. There are three tough challenges awaiting us in the next three years: Euro 2021, the 2022 World Cup and the Euros on home soil in 2024.
DFB.de: Looking ahead to the Euros next year, is it at all possible for the team to settle together right now?
Löw: A team needs consistency, rhythm, assuredness and a blind understanding with one another. A team has to grow, that flow needs to develop. That’s hardly there yet, but we can still lay the foundations, build trust in our philosophy and share our ideas. The development of the team is definitely going well and we are really excited looking ahead to next year.
DFB.de: You’ve already touched on the example set by the two Gladbach players, Hofmann and Neuhaus, who have shown that the door to the national team appears to be wide open. Could Philipp Max and Felix Uduokhai follow them through that door?
Löw: We don’t select anybody who we wouldn’t trust to do so. But it’s also clear that we need to be at the absolute highest level if we want to return to the top of international football. For that, we need consistently excellent performances. You have to play at your very best all the time. We see matches like the ones against Turkey and the Czech Republic as good opportunities to test ourselves. There aren’t too many chances to do that, otherwise, and we also want to reward players like Hofmann, Neuhaus, Max and Uduokhai for their good performances. They should feel like we are taking notice.
DFB.de: Talking of rewards, you said last time around that you want the team to reward themselves for their efforts. What did you mean by that?
Löw: I saw a lot of good displays in September and October, the players gave us everything. In every training session, meeting and conversation I noticed the desire, excitement and pride to play for Germany. Obviously we all wanted to win, but you can’t forget that this Autumn has brought us special challenges in regard to workload and selection. The number one concern is that the players stay healthy, and the clubs who have contracts with and pay the players obviously feel the same way. In my role as Germany head coach, I am in quite a sensitive position. I am aware of that and I want to do things right, but maybe I don’t always do it perfectly. We have never lived through a situation like this, which is so challenging for all of us. We have no experience of this, we’re going through it for the first time. One thing is certain, though – we want to bring people joy with our matches. We are playing to win, and I’m confident we can do that.
DFB.de: Even in Spain?
Löw: Why not? It’s amazing to be able to play in a competition against world-class teams like Spain. One game at a time, though. We play Czech Republic next, then Ukraine. I’m really looking forward to these games and I hope that the fun and the joy within this team finally shines through out on the pitch.