The Germany national team faces a triple-header of fixtures in October. A friendly match against Turkey (7th Oct, 20.45 CEST) in Cologne is followed by UEFA Nations League fixtures away to Ukraine (10th Oct, 20.45 CEST) and at home to Switzerland (13th Oct, 20.45 CEST), also in Cologne. Joachim Löw has named a squad of 26 outfield players and three goalkeepers. Germany’s head coach spoke to DFB.de about his selection.
DFB.de: Mr. Löw, the national team returned to action in September after a long break, with strict hygiene rules and no fans in the stands. The team played out 1-1 draws with both Spain and Switzerland – four weeks later, how do you evaluate that start?
Joachim Löw: International matches finally returned and I was just pleased to be able to work with the lads again. I wasn’t too dissatisfied with the two draws; we dominated Spain at times, which I didn’t necessarily expect when we were missing a few of our key players. With hindsight, though, I am annoyed that we missed so many easy chances and that we eventually let two victories slip through our fingers. We have to learn from that, we have to improve. Not being clinical enough is an issue that has persisted for a while now. We have to be greedy, hungry, cold-blooded and more decisive.
DFB.de: You now have three opportunities to put that into practice, as a packed schedule lies ahead of you and the team.
Löw: We have three matches in seven days, which is really demanding and reminds me playing at a tournament. It’s a real challenge, considering the players’ workloads.
DFB.de: …something that the clubs also pay special attention to. They expect the players to return in good health and that they won’t take any unnecessary risks with regards to the coronavirus. How is that affecting your plans?
Löw: We are completely aware of the situation and of the responsibility that we have to keep the players healthy. We have come up with a few solutions: each player’s training program will be tailored so that they are not over- or underworked. During this intense period, there will be time to knuckle down and time to relax. That’s why we have named an expanded squad – it gives us plenty of options for the three matches. The players will arrive in two stages and we are planning to operate with two separate sets of players. Toni Kroos will arrive a day late due to injury, as will the players from FC Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig. They will join the team for training on Wednesday, and we are not planning for them to be involved in the game against Turkey. After that match we will decide which players will make the journey to Kiev. UEFA rules say that we can have a maximum of 23 players for the Nations League matches, and with the pandemic going on we are going to take pain-staking measures to ensure that we expose our players to as little risk as possible.
DFB.de: Are you in close contact with the clubs?
Löw: Yes. Oliver Bierhoff talks to the various sporting directors and officials, I speak to the players and coaches. We understand that the clubs have concerns. As the head coach of the national team, though, I’m not just looking at it from the clubs’ point of view. I also have to consider the players’ wishes and above all our own aims. The team has to be performing at its best ahead of the Euros next summer. We have to be in top condition, both physically and mentally. We want to win every match between now and next summer, especially the Nations League fixtures.
DFB.de: What are your aims for the upcoming round of games?
Löw: It’s pretty obvious – we want to be successful again. We want to score goals and win matches so that we can collect points. We want to concentrate and work hard, but we also want to have fun both on and off the pitch. We have to show ourselves in a light that makes the supporters proud of their national team again. That’s especially important in the competitive matches against Ukraine and Switzerland – those are the fixtures that we are concentrating on. The Turkey match is a welcome opportunity for our young team to experiment and try a few new things. It’s a chance to learn about ourselves and to gain experience, so we should use it wisely. To grow together as a team takes time, patience and – most importantly – trust.