After last Thursday’s 0-0 draw with world champions France and a 2-1 friendly victory against Peru last night, Germany head coach Joachim Löw reflects on the challenges of achieving the right balance in the team, the tasks lying ahead in the UEFA Nations League and various positions in the team.
DFB.de: How would you assess the Peru friendly?
Joachim Löw: It was a very good match for us against technically and physically strong opponents. We used a very fluid passing game in the first half with good combination play and this led to three or four very good chances. The substitutions in the second half caused us to slow down a little and we became a bit static. However, the team continued to be positive and fought until the end to get the win. The winner was a little lucky but it was deserved.
DFB.de: Has the international break played out how you wanted it to? Löw: The emphasis has been on good organisation and finding the right balance in the team. We encountered some problems when Peru hit us on the counter attack but overall, the players have worked very hard and have been very focused. The team knows that we need to deliver more good performances so that the fans can re-connect themselves with Die Mannschaft after our disappointing summer. This week has shown that we are making progress and we have hit our targets for this international break.
DFB.de: Did the Peru game show that debutant Nico Schulz still needs to mature?
Löw: Yes of course. It isn’t so easy to do this in your first senior game for your country as players are a bit nervous. An international matchday is completely different to a Bundesliga matchday. I’m pleased for Nico to score the winner on his debut. He could have cleared the ball in the build-up to the goal we conceded but I am satisfied with his overall performance and his engagement. He is a very dynamic player. I believe he will be included in our squad for upcoming matches.
DFB.de: For future matches, do you plan to use four centre-backs in a back four, like you did against France, or use full-backs?
Löw: We will have to see. Our two centre-backs, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, will continue to play in the heart of defence in our important matches as they provide us with a lot of experience and incredible ball-winning ability. On the flanks, we will vary who plays but that will depend on the opposition. Matthias Ginter, Nico Schulz, Jonas Hector, Marcel Halstenburg and possibly also Phillip Max (FC Augsburg) could all feature, the latter played very well last season.
DFB.de: Has Ilkay Gündogan brought his previous form back to the squad?
Löw: Yes, I have been satisfied with Ilkay in training this week as we saw the Ilkay we have been used to seeing from previous seasons. In the first half, he made a couple of very good passes made some good forward runs. In the second half, there wasn’t as much room for him to operate in. He has made some good progress this week.
DFB.de: Marco Reus as a central striker – a long term solution for you?
Löw: I know that he prefers to play on the left flank. Just like Timo Werner, he is very good on the wing but also good as a support player who holds the ball up well to bring the wider players into the action. Nils Petersen also impressed me, he was immediately in the game after he came on and was a constant presence down the middle. I think he can make progress into the national team.
DFB.de: Die Mannschaft continue their UEFA Nations League campaign in October – will you continue to use Joshua Kimmich as a defensive midfielder and play a 4-3-3 formation?
Löw: I think the Nations League is really good because it is a competition with very high quality. Our opponents, France and the Netherlands, both play good football and it is important that the team continues to perform regarding our tactics and mindset. Kimmich will likely play as a defensive midfielder again in our next matches as I am very satisfied with his performances in this role and the way he takes on everything the role has to offer him.