After announcing the Germany squad for the upcoming friendly against Serbia next Wednesday (20:45 CET) and the first UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier against the Netherlands on 24th March, Die Mannschaft head coach Joachim Löw spoke about his squad selection and the upcoming fixtures.
…the situation before the squad announcement: I wanted to use this squad announcement as an opportunity to speak about a couple of things from my point of view. March starts a new cycle for us, one which continues until the 2020 European Championship and of course it was necessary for me to make certain changes based on our performances and results last year. After the Nations League reached its climax, we came together as a coaching team and spoke about how the team should play in the future and who should be part of the team in 2020. We reached the decision of making certain changes to the team. We put a set of criteria in place but this wasn’t instantly implemented looking straight ahead to the future. Instead, it was a long process. We were clear we had to make some changes. We reached this decision after watching a few matches in February. We also wanted to have a younger team for the European qualifiers. It was obvious that we had to announce these changes relatively quickly.
…no longer considering Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels and Thomas Müller for international duty: The most important thing we did was speaking to the trio in a personal meeting. That was vitally important. We wanted to hold a personal, open and honest meeting with each of them. It is sometimes strange to hold a meeting if the player isn’t there. We obviously appreciate everything they have done. They have performed exceptionally well. Each of their Die Mannschaft appearances have occurred since I took over as coach. We’ve achieved a lot together. There’s been disappointment but also a lot of lovely highlights along the way. I truly felt emotional making this decision as we have so much to thank the players for. However, my task is to make decisions. I have to make decisions for the future and we have chosen to select players for the European Qualifiers are prospects. We’ve given them the responsibility and they have to prove to us whether they can do it for their country. My task was to speak to the three players honestly and fairly. I have said to them that I wasn’t including them in my plans for the European qualifiers and European Championship as want to give younger players the opportunity to develop.
…the actual squad for the upcoming fixtures: There are three debutants in the squad. We made an agreement with U21s head coach Stefan Kuntz to call up Lukas Klostermann and Maximilian Eggestein to the squad for the first time. They should make the step up to the senior team to give them the chance to make an impression to us. Niklas Stark has been in very good form in recent weeks and has also won two titles with the Germany youth teams. Marcel Halstenberg was in our squad shortly before the World Cup and played well in his only Die Mannschaft appearance to date. Unfortunately, he has been out of action for a while with injury but is back now and playing well.
…the new style of play: Since the World Cup and the Nations League, we’ve been thinking in detail about how we want to play. The recurring themes consist of keeping the ball and dominating the match. This will continue to be important for us. Possession based football certainly isn’t dead. However, we need to be more dynamic, determined and play faster. We have to improve on these areas. These were things which made us strong in recent years. Breaking down opponents is something we failed to do at the World Cup last summer. In March 2018 and in World Cup qualifying we continued to play well but our play turned predictable both at the World Cup and towards the end of last year. It was defined by long ball and slow play without the intention of driving into the final third. This is something we have to correct and get right. We are likely to enjoy more possession against several teams in the European Qualifiers but we need to raise our dynamics. We need plays who have a faster speed of execution and can find solution quicker under pressure.
…new leaders in the squad: I could name several players who need to step up in these matches. It is a learning process for them. I have led several generations of player and people such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira or Philipp have led the team and not just had to think about their own individual performances. We have several younger players who we can deliver responsibility but we need to see how they take on this responsibility. You can’t expect it to suddenly work straight away. It needs time to develop.
…the goalkeeper situation: Manuel Neuer is still our number one goalkeeper. I spoke to him about this in November and confirmed this was the case. He is also our captain. Marc-André ter Stegen is currently playing at a world class level and he will get his chance to play this year. Then we will see what happens. Manuel has to naturally show through his performances that he is our number one goalkeeper. There is competition at every position for a place in the team. …Jonas Hector and Mario Götze missing out on the squad: We have a lot of different options in attack and I’m happy with the squad in that aspect. I have seen that Mario is playing very well. Jonas is currently not playing as much on the left side for his club. However, I’ve said to him that he could return to the national team soon.