There is only day to go until the start of Germany’s European qualifying campaign. Ahead of Sunday’s game (20:45 CET) away against the Netherlands, national coach Joachim Löw and midfielder Toni Kroos discussed their memories of the opponents, the development of the young national side and the options for the starting eleven.
…HOW THE SQUAD IS FEELING AHEAD OF THE QUALIFICATION CAMPAIGN: This week we focused on this important game against the Netherlands. We are all looking forward to our first qualifier in Amsterdam. This is a special kind of rivalry and there’s always an excellent atmosphere when we play here. We want to start our campaign successfully and win the game. The most important things are getting results and continuously developing our team.
…TOMORROW’S GAME AGAINST THE NETHERLANDS: We’re not thinking about losing the game. The team is up to this challenge. We saw that during our 2-2 draw with them in Gelsenkirchen. We controlled the game with a young team. The Netherlands work together as a team, will be highly-motivated and they are in a good mood. The play with a similar set-up most of the time, but our side is capable of putting in a good shift, which I’m sure we’ll do.
…MEMORIES OF THE NATIONS LEAGUE DEFEAT: I don’t have any bad feelings about this game because of the 3-0 defeat here. That game was hugely disappointing, but it’s a completely different situation now. We have played them since in Gelsenkirchen. I have a good feeling for tomorrow.
…THE LINE-UP: Manuel Neuer and Toni Kroos will definitely start the game. I gave Toni a rest, even though he wanted to play against Serbia. There are few things for me still to decide though.
…LEROY SANÉ AND SERGE GNABRY: Both are fully fit. Leroy’s foot was slightly swollen after that foul, but on Thursday he was already sure he was fit to play. Serge has also trained since Thursday and is also available.
…THE VALUE OF TONI KROOS: Toni has been incredibly consistent for a number of years. He has played of lot of football in that time too. After watching him in training I could see he’s had a couple of difficult months. Toni Kroos is an asset for every team he plays for. His overview of the game is unique and irreplaceable.
…VIRGIL VAN DIJK: He is outstanding in the air, is so big and plays with real power. Recently we had problems with opponents’ set-pieces and this is still a topic as Serbia scored from a set-piece against us. We will almost definitely make some changes to what we have been doing.
…MANUEL NEUER DEALING WITH THE COMPETITION: Manuel Neuer has always been very professional and has always worked at a high intensity with us. He has been our number one for years now. He has dealt with the situation very well and has remained focused. I think he needs some competition so that he can keep his concentration up.
…HIS VISIONS FOR 2020: We have discussed individual players and our style of play a lot already. Some topics have completely covered. Now we have to make sure we get through the qualifying group. The team has to find their own identity first. Our team chemistry wasn’t what it should be in the first half against Serbia – we have to work hard on that. The mood in the camp is good, but we need a hierarchy to form in the squad. The team is finding itself on and off the pitch right now. This won’t happen overnight.
…THE YOUNG TEAM BEING OUTSIDERS: Just like before, we still have a really good team. Obviously a few things have changed, however the players that will start tomorrow have enough experience. We will do all we can to win the game. I definitely don’t see us without a chance.
… THE HEAVY DEFEAT IN THE NATIONS LEAGUE: It is still quite recent. I don’t think the result was a true reflection of the game. We dominated the game in large spells and just fell off in the last ten minutes. I’m not thinking about how it would feel to lose. We have a team that can definitely take something away from tomorrow’s game. We aren’t talking about a possible defeat. The home game against the Netherlands in Gelsenkirchen is a good chance to remember the positives - we played very well over 75 or 80 minutes and made space for ourselves and played high up the field.
… HIS CHEMISTRY WITH JOSHUA KIMMICH: It has been evident in the past few games that we understand each other. Although the results haven’t shown it yet, we played very well together. We complement each other well, which is a good sign for the future.
… PERSONALISM CRITICISM: Even though we have won everything with Real Madrid in the last 3 years, we aren't exempt from criticism. My style of play hasn‘t changed. I still don’t make 28 sprints in a single game.
… A POSSIBLE BREAK FROM THE INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL: We had an agreement based on the way I felt. The coach and I share the same goal – to be at the top of my game for EURO 2020. Nothing has changed.