Germany head coach Joachim Löw has announced his squad for this summer’s EUROs. With his side’s campaign set to get underway in 27 days time against reigning world champions France in Munich (15th June, 21:00 CEST), Löw today confirmed his 26-man squad ahead of his final major tournament in charge. The 61-year-old took part in a press conference following the announcement, together with Manuel Neuer and Jonas Hofmann.
...the goalkeepers: It was unfortunate for us when Marc-André ter Stegen told us of his patellar tendon issues. On the one hand, it’s unfortunate for both him and us, since we know that he’s delivered strong performances for Barcelona in recent years. It’s too bad that he will miss the tournament, but on the other hand, we have two other great goalkeepers to back up Manuel Neuer and we trust them all completely.
...the defenders: Mats Hummels is back in the squad for the first time in a while. Shelving our rebuild completely makes little sense, but it is possible to put it on hold. We have lacked stability at the back of late, which may have been down to a lack of experience. We’ve called up Mats because he is able to have a positive influence on other players, can organised a backline and has taken part in several major tournaments already. He knows how to approach games like this and how to deal with problems. Antonio Rüdiger has also delivered several strong performances. Robin Gosens has proven capable of scoring goals in Italy. Matthias Ginter, Robin Koch and Niklas Süle have been part of the team for a while. Lukas Klostermann and Marcel Halstenberg have plenty of experience at Leipzig. Christian Günter is a player that I’ve been able to observe a lot at Freiburg. He’s undergone a tremendous development over the last two, three years and has improved in several areas. He’s very dynamic, both in offence and defence, and always brings a lot of energy into the game, as well as being a threat in front of goal.
...the midfielders and forwards: We’re well equipped in this area. There are some key players who have been part of the team for a while like Ilkay Gündogan and Toni Kroos, who has unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19 recently. But, we’re assuming that Toni will be fit in time for the tournament. We also have players like Leon Goretzka and Emre Can, who are physical in addition to being technically skilled. Joshua Kimmich brings both leadership and mentality. Up front, we have a variety of players: some with speed who are good in one-on-ones like Timo Werner and Leroy Sané. Youngsters like Kai Havertz. We’ve decided to call up Kevin Volland after witnessing him play for Monaco this season. He is a strong physical presence, can push his way through and be of benefit to us.
...Thomas Müller and Mats Hummels: In 2018, it was time to give the young players the opportunity and the space to develop themselves. We had also undergone a rebuild in 2010, and went on an exciting run at the World Cup that year. We didn’t manage to achieve our goals in 2019/20, and our development didn’t proceed as we had hoped it would. The EUROs are the priority, and it’s extremely important that we do well there, which is why we have decided to bring back Hummels and Müller. Both are coming off strong seasons and will be able to be leaders within the team. They know our approach and philosophy, and are respected figures within the team. We also thought about Jérôme Boateng. I respect him a lot, he has given a lot to Germany and has had an impact at Bayern this season. However, we have other players that have delivered strong performances for us in defence which is why we have elected to only bring back Mats Hummels.
...the decision-making process: It was definitely a very intense time, during which we analysed the last year and a half, while also making plans for our pre-tournament preparations, both logistically and in terms of the content. We spent many hours together, discussing things. We said that we would take a close look at everything again, leave no stone unturned and inspect every player closely in order to make the best possible decision. There were several criteria: games played with the national team, how the player performed, how they met the expectations and challenges in their position. We observed them at their clubs, and used video footage for players abroad, as we weren’t able to travel there this past year. It’s about how they see the game, what players can bring to their position, what the demands are. It’s important to have back-ups at each position for a major tournament. You also have to see how the energy is within the team and how the players handle the frustration of not playing right away. That all plays a role, as does their current form and injuries, of course. These decisions were made with the aim of being successful, which is the priority. A special challenge was, and remains, the pandemic. We had come up with several tasks we wanted to implement at the end of 2018, but weren’t able to complete them all due to the current situation.
...the larger squad: Overall, it’s a logical decision by UEFA. We’ve seen how players have dropped out on short notice due to COVID-19 over the past months. The decision makes sense, but we have elected to not call up more players because we feel that 26 are enough. The challenge is that we can only name 23 players in the matchday squad, meaning that three will have to sit out. That’s something you have to consider as a coach, because even those who don’t feature have to remain at the top of their game.
...the training camp: We know that players competing in the Champions League final (Ed. note: Ilkay Gündogan from Manchester City as well as Antonio Rüdiger, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner from Chelsea) will only join up with the team later, and we don’t want to deny them the chance to compete in a game like that. We need the players to arrive both mentally and physically ready. The players won’t be overworked coming out of the season, which means that we will be able to increase the intensity in a way that we couldn’t in March. During training camp, we will focus on our defensive shape as well as our attacking options and set pieces, which are crucial ahead of a major tournament. We will also work on team building.
…hopes and expectations: We want to get the fans behind us again and convince them to back German football again. Since 2018, we’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions. After many years competing at the highest level in international competitions, we were eliminated in the group stage at the World Cup, and we were all deeply disappointed about that. We didn’t manage to get the results we needed at the UEFA Nations League either, and then came all of the difficulties with the pandemic and the results that many people weren’t satisfied with. But there are always phases in the development of a team that have to be endured. We know that we have to convince the fans again. We want a team that is bursting with energy and enthusiasm and that stands united on the pitch in a way that the fans can get behind. The impression that I had in March was of a team in which the players are ready to make a difference at an international tournament. They have a strong desire to play for the national team and they are ready to give it everything they have. The goal is always to progress as far as possible, but we aren’t among the strong favourites. It’s a tournament so it’s crucial to approach every game with absolute focus as every match is a knockout game. We have to maintain total concentration and go into every game as if it’s a final. If we get into a good flow, anything is possible for our team.
…the influence that fans would have at the EUROs: We have experienced empty stadiums for long enough. Emotions, cheering, applause, whistles and chants are as much a part of football as the ball. We would be delighted if fans are there at the European Championship. Fans always help and inspire the team.
…the preparations for the tournament: There isn’t long until the European Championship starts so it’s starting to play on our minds. We’ll celebrate the Bundesliga title and say our farewells to a few players and coaches, and then we’ll start physically preparing for the EUROs.
…fans at the EUROs: It definitely gives us an added push. The more fans there are in a stadium, the better it is for the atmosphere. We play football for the fans and we’re looking forward to the support, as long as that’s possible and safe.
…his call-up to the national team: It’s fantastic for me to be able to take part. It’s my first major tournament. To have made the cut shows how much faith the coach has in me. I will try to help the team to progress as far as possible.
…his emotional preparation: There are a lot of emotions involved. Big tournaments don’t come along every year. We’re eager to progress as far as possible, but first and foremost we have one more match in the Bundesliga. Then we have a few days off and then we’ll meet up with the team. Following that it’s all about training and being as prepared as possible. We’re playing our first game against France who are obviously a team with a lot of quality.